Stress and the Holidays
Monday, December 12th, 2011
“Stress is the body’s reaction to a change that requires a physical, mental or emotional adjustment or response” ~ Angela Morrow, RN.
The holidays are quickly approaching which can bring about feelings of joy, happiness, anticipation and yes, STRESS!! But you don’t have to let holiday stress rule your life over the next couple of months. I have a few stress busting tips that I’m going to pull out of my health/fitness tool bag to share with you.
#1: Take a walk
Walking is just about the perfect exercise in my book. It’s free, stress-relieving and you can do it anywhere. Cardiovascular training is proven to release feel-good hormones called endorphins. Secretion of endorphins can lead to feelings of euphoria, plus they release sex hormones, reduce appetite and enhance the immune system. The higher the levels of endorphins released, the less aches and pains we feel and the more the impact of stress is diminished. Think of them as a roundhouse kick to the old stress monster. Aim for a 30-minute walk at least 5 days a week.
#2: Resistance Training
Here’s another mode of exercise that’s free and can be done in the privacy of your own home. Resistance training builds and strengthens muscles, increases metabolism, helps to build stronger bones and bonus; releases even more endorphins. Our bodies are so amazing that literally after just one week of resistance training our muscles adapt and start to get stronger, and that’s at any age. I don’t care if you’re 90 years old, you can still increase your strength. In fact, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that after 10 weeks of weight training, people in their 80s and 90s more than doubled their strength! You don’t need any equipment to start getting stronger, your very own bodyweight provides more than enough resistance. Start now and those holiday shopping bags won’t drag you down as much. At the end of this article I’ll include a few bodyweight exercises that you can start implementing immediately for quick results.
#3: Avoid Eating Out Too Much
I know that eating out is fun and convenient, especially around the holidays. But let me tell you all of those fat and calorie laden meals can really take their toll on the old waist line. Then after the holidays you’re depressed because you’ve gained several pounds. It doesn’t have to be that way! Several years back I was eating out 3-4 times a week. My waist swelled from 31 inches to 35 and my bank account took a judo chop to the jugular as well. I’m not saying don’t eat out at all; just keep it in check. My wife and I plan out our meals a week in advance. I’m telling you, it really does save a lot of time and money. For me personally, cooking is quite relaxing. In addition it’s a fantastic way for family members to come together as a team to create a healthy and delicious meal. This day and age it’s crucial to get the kids in the kitchen to teach them about healthy eating.
#4 Set Aside Time for Yourself
Let’s face it, our lives are pretty darn hectic. Then add in the hustle and bustle of the holidays and it’s pretty easy to get full on overwhelmed. It’s so easy to get caught up in everything but ourselves. But our very own health should be the #1 priority on our to do list. What I recommend is checking in with yourself several times a day. Take 5 minutes a few times a day to close your eyes and focus on your breathing. During this short time just let the world go and be with yourself. When thoughts come into your mind (and they will) don’t hang onto them, just let them pass freely. Slowly breathe in and out and fully relax. This is a simple technique that can drastically reduce your stress levels throughout the day.« Go Back