The festive period has arrived. For most it is a busy and stressful time of year with gift buying, food shopping, socialising, nativity plays all on top of everyday activities such as work and crammed in to a short space of time!
For many the pressure to create the perfect family Christmas combined with the very accessible tempting treats soon becomes an unhealthy situation. This then leads to a roller coaster of low energy, weight gain and for some low self-esteem, which can create us to want to drink and / or eat more before we even reach Christmas day.
Stress is obviously not just for Christmas and for many it can be fundamental to why they overeat. This can be driven by the desire to eat for comfort and / or for emotional reasons too. But why?
When we are feeling under a lot of pressure, our body’s fight or flight response goes into action. When your body reaches a certain stress level it feels that it has burnt lots of energy dealing with the issue it has faced, so it now wants you to eat! Add to that the cortisol hormone being released during a time of fight or flight. Those increased hormone levels can then cause higher insulin levels, so your blood sugar drops and you are then craving the foods full of sugar. Plus raised cortisol levels causes the body to store fat, especially around the abdominal area.
So what steps can you take to help control your stress levels over the festive period?
Prepare, Plan & Delegate
Make a list of everything you need to do, break it down prioritizing what needs to be done and when. Then give yourself just a couple of tasks to do each day. Don’t be Superwoman or Superman, delegate tasks to other members of the family. Get them involved with the shopping, cooking and preparation.
Plan your food and drink. Christmas social activities seem to start earlier each year,
so if food and drink is involved (which it probably will be) then plan ahead so you don’t overeat or miss out on nutritious rich foods. Remember that green veg as we all know eat sprouts and be good!
We are what we eat so don’t be fast, cheap or fake this Christmas!
Let’s be honest It can be oh so easy to just sit on the sofa for the entire festive holidays but this really won’t be beneficial for you mentally or physically. So every day get outside and walk for at least 20 minutes. Walk the dog and go somewhere green, where you see trees and grass. Although not gardening season, get outside and do a bit of tidying up, rake up the leaves (leave the leaf blower in the shed). If you are meeting friends go for a long walk before you start eating and drinking. Take the kids to the park, perhaps with their new scooters, bikes, footballs etc. Let them and you benefit for getting some daylight and fresh air.
Relax And Breathe!
Relaxation is one of the most important elements to good health and stress-free living. It can help to lower your cortisol levels, reduce physical and mental tension and increase your energy levels. Take time for you, to recharge your batteries and spend time looking forward and planning your goals for 2017.
Finally, breathe, yes that’s what I said! This is so important. Take time to sit in a quiet room just listen to your breathing, perhaps even say to yourself ‘in’ and ‘out’ as you inhale and exhale. Feel that you breathe from you abdomen. Then breathe in to a count of three, hold for a count of three and then breathe out to a count of three, and gradually slow down your rate of breathing to a count of five, seven – or if you’re really feeling that relaxed perhaps even a count of eight or nine.
So this Christmas prepare, plan, move and breathe to enjoy a stress free Christmas!
Until next time, Lesley x