Guest Post by: By Valerie Agyeman, RD of @flourishheights
This year has been a wild ride filled with ups and downs, but during these times of uncertainty your wellness matters the most. Proper nutrition and stress management play a vital role in optimal health. As the holidays are approaching, it’s filled with long to-do lists from cooking meals, shopping to baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few. All of this can bring about feelings of stress and even anxiety, plus you may also feel stressed, sad or anxious because your holiday plans might look a lot different with the pandemic happening.
Stress negatively impacts health by triggering our fight or flight response in which prepares our bodies to react. The fight or flight response kicks in when our central nervous system releases the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are activated or triggered when we are anxious or stressed. As a result, you may experience rapid heart rate, increase in blood pressure, and increase in rate of breathing. Chronic stress greatly impacts the body’s ability to recover from illness and can contribute to long-term health issues. Depression, insomnia, and digestive issues can occur in individuals experiencing long-term stress and anxiety.
This is the perfect time to take charge of your overall health and wellness by following these five tips to manage your stress, especially during the holidays:
- Learn and practice relaxation techniques – Take control by finding a relaxing solution that satisfies you – this in itself is empowering. Be still! It is really important to try to relax at home too. There are many simple inexpensive ways to have a little calm in your life – listen to music, take a walk, take a deep breath, read a book, paint, talk to a friend, exercise, take a hot bath or whatever helps you to release the stress from your mind, body and soul.
- Eat satisfying, nourishing foods that make you feel good – Stress eating happens to all of us – and most of the time it may seem like the best way to escape from your stressors, especially when you are feeling anxious. Prepare foods that make you feel good. Include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and always stay hydrated so you can function at your absolute best. Also, don’t feel guilty if you find yourself reaching for all the sweet and salty things around you. For a lovely chocolate sweet fix (which we highly encourage), make a chocolate chia pudding or a refreshing chocolate latte using Lavva’s Chocolate Plant Milk. It’s subtly sweet thanks to dates and is made with other real food ingredients such as cocoa, maca root, and coconut water all to keep you feeling amazing (physically and mentally!). Your body will be better prepared to fight off negative effects stress gives when it is properly nourished. So, do yourself a favor and eat well to be well.
- Get enough sleep, when possible – Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health and quality of life. Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy, which is especially needed during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. This system defends your body against foreign or harmful substances. Ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way in which your immune system responds. For example, if you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble fighting common infections. So ladies, get that beauty sleep in.
- Set boundaries – Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and, really, a healthy life. Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that many of us don’t learn. Having healthy boundaries means knowing and understanding what your limits are. It’s time to re-evaluate your life and make sure that everything you are putting your energy towards is worth it. Sis, go ahead and say no. You’ll thank us later.
- Get moving with exercises that are enjoyable – Working out regularly is one of the best ways to relax your body and mind. Plus, exercise may improve your mood. It actually produces stress-relieving hormones and on top of that, it gives you time to escape from the world and focus on your activity alone. Find an exercise routine that works for you and your unique lifestyle. Remember, exercise shouldn’t be a punishment, it should be fun.
Take it easy, you are doing the best that you can.