Whatever you do this holiday season, DO NOT allow this time of year to stress you out!
I know, I know…
It almost seems inevitable, doesn’t it?
All the cooking, the shopping, the shopping CROWDS, trying to figure out what to buy for whom, folks fighting over who’s house you should go to for dinner THIS time, since you went to your in-law’s house last time… yada yada yada.
I get it. But PLEASE, don’t let all of that overwhelm you and cause undo stress. It’s just not good for your health.
In fact, while you may THINK stress is just a part of life….
According to the Mayo Clinic, persistent stress is one of the biggest factors in cardiovascular health. YIKES!
Over time (when you’re stressed) blood vessels can weaken and blood pressure can rise leaving you more susceptible to heart attacks. Blood sugar also increases, immunity decreases and thinking becomes cloudy. – Debra Daniels-Zeller, author of The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook.
So, check out these 5 tips to help combat some of that stress & keep it at bay, as shared by Author, Debra Daniels-Zeller:
1. Reach for whole foods.
Recent research suggests that stress increases the body’s requirement for vitamins A, C, E, and B-complex.
Stress also increases requirements for minerals, especially potassium, magnesium, zinc, and calcium.
One super food, the avocado, provides nearly 20 nutrients, including potassium, a mineral that helps balance blood levels of sodium and keeps blood pressure low. Avocados, nuts, seeds and whole grains offer B-vitamins.
Fruits and vegetables, especially hearty greens, are rich in minerals, especially magnesium, a mineral known to aid relaxation.
Indulge in dark chocolate. A study in 2009 found that eating dark chocolate reduces stress hormone levels.
Also, eating dark chocolate releases endorphins in the brain, giving you a natural happiness boost.
Ask yourself: “What would happen if I don’t send holiday cards, or say yes to every invitation I receive?” and trim your to-do list.
Practice saying no to invitations and let the answering machine take your calls while you breathe deeply and visualize a peaceful place.
Take a media (both TV and social media) vacation and embrace the slow movement!
Take a slow walk, paying attention to your surroundings, and pushing other thoughts away.
Go for a restorative run or a brisk walk.
Exercise has a unique ability to stimulate and relax. Use exercise as meditation in motion as you focus on a single task and improve your mood.
Some psychologists say that a brisk 10-minute walk is as therapeutic for your mood as a 45-minute workout.
Exercise consistently for six weeks and exercise will to turn into a habit.
4. Inhale relaxing aromas.
Based on the idea that soothing scents can trigger emotions that cause pleasant memories, aromatherapy can relax you.
You can also take warm bath with aromatherapy bath salts.
5. Try some herbs.
No time to meditate? Too rainy for slow walking? And if the idea of squeezing relaxation time in is stressful, here are some herbs that help soothe tension:
• Lavender helps slow the central nervous system and promotes sleep. Keep a lavender sachet in your desk or purse for stressful moments. Sip lavender tea, take a lavender bath or soak your feet.
• Chamomile has had a reputation for calming children and is used in tea blends to help induce sleep. Sip a warm cup of tea and relax. Lavender teams up with chamomile in many tea blends, offering the benefits of both herbs.
• Valerian can help you relax during the day and sleep at night. It is available in capsule, tablet, tincture and tea. Go easy on the dosage until you find the right amount.
• St. John’s Wort helps relieve mild depression. As your mood improves, stress fades.
Adaptogenic herbs, called tonic herbs in Chinese medicine and Rasayanas in Ayurvedic medicine, also relieve stress by balancing the body. Eleuthero or Siberian Ginseng, Ashwagandha, maca powder, and astragalus are examples of adaptogenic herbs.
If you’re taking pharmaceutical medications, it’s best to discuss drug interactions with a healthcare practitioner before beginning an herbal regimen.
If you feel stressed and don’t know the reason, keep a diary to see which events are stressful for you.
Background stress adds to daily tensions.
Take a break from caffeine and the nightly news.
Lighten up, rent a comedy, and create a quiet night at home from time to time.
Debra Daniels-Zeller is author of The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook: 200 Recipes That Celebrate the Flavors of Oregon and Washington (Timber Press, 2010). She is a regular contributor to Vegetarian Journal magazine and writes a delightful food blog at http://foodconnections.blogspot.com. She can be reached at (425) 776-4689.
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