At this time of year many of us start to feel stressed because on top of all our usual workload there are presents to buy, cards to send, meals to plan and parties to go to.
We are all programmed to survive. When we perceive external physical or psychological threats an alarm system is triggered in the brain which releases a complex cocktail of hormones including cortisol and adrenaline. Those hormones raise our heart rate, inhibit stomach activity and inhibit saliva. So if you sit down to your Christmas dinner feeling stressed out, you are not going to be able to digest it very well.
Here are some dos and don’ts in the build-up to the holidays:
- Eat breakfast every day within 30 minutes of getting up. This will prime your digestive system for the day
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water during the day, hot or cold. 2-3 litres is a good volume to aim for.
- Reduce or avoid caffeine including caffeinated energy drinks. Drink green tea
- Reduce or avoid added sugars in your diet. Check the packaging on processed foods. Beware of the sugars in soft drinks.
- Sleep well. Make sure your bedroom is a sleep haven. Keep it cool, dark and quiet
- Take daily exercise. Anything more than nothing is good. Walk to work, walk around the office, park further from the supermarket entrance.
- Go outside at lunchtime to relax and get some midday sunlight to boost your production of vitamin D
- Fast to get into that party outfit. You will stress your adrenal system and may get more bloated.
- Watch the evening news or read thrillers at night.
- Keep your mobile phone or laptop in the bedroom. Those beeps and flashing lights will disturb your sleep.
- Have a hot bath before going to bed. It will raise your core temperature and disturb your sleep. A warm bath or shower is fine.
Most of all, do be kind to family and friends. It is good for your emotional resilience.
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