When you think about the upcoming holidays, do you feel anxious and uneasy or happy and excited ? Does your heart pound, and mind race with details of the gathering that you plan to be the best ever?
For most of us we look forward to what should be a slower more peaceful time of the year.
THE REALITY for most of us, is that it's very busy and not so peaceful. There are extra errands to run for that perfect gift and chores to do in preparation of our house guests, add that to our day to day responsibilities and you have HOLIDAY STRESS.
The extra stressors of the holiday acts as immediate stress to the body, signaling a fight or flight response from the central nervous system. The brain tells the Hypothalamus to tell the adrenal glands to release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. When the immediate stress is over, the central nervous system tells the body to return to its normal state. However, if the body can not return to its normal state because the stressor, (the holiday season) is still present or there was no physical release of these hormones, they will build up in the system and cause havoc to the mind and body.
Our body in response to the added responsibilities of the holidays will go into over drive and release additional cortisol and adrenaline to help us adapt. In the short term this may be helpful but if we don’t manage it head on we are setting ourselves up for what could be a challenging start to a healthy new year.
Here are 3 things to help combat and meet the effects of stress head on so that it does not interrupt the spirit of the upcoming holidays
- Eat foods that lower stress -
- Foods like Steel Cut Oatmeal boosts the levels of Serotonin and calm the brain
- Oranges decrease levels os stress hormones and strengthen the immune system.
- Spinach and leafy greens have magnesium which can help fight stress headaches and fatigue
- Omega 3 fatty fish can prevent surges of the stress hormones and fight against winter depression
- Avocados high in potassium reduce high blood pressure and can curve your craving for a high-fat treat this holiday season
- Almonds full of vitamins like Vitamin E to boost your immune system and can make you more resilient to the holiday stress and depression
- Exercise - We all know that exercise is important AND during this holiday season probably a little more challenging to get to the gym. But even 20-30 minutes of aerobic activity a couple times a week; i.e. walking , running elliptical ,will help the body recreate the “flight” response releasing the stress hormones and decreasing the cortisol levels in our body. Can’t fit 20 minutes that into your day? Break it up, do stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, park a good distance away from the front of the store. Every little bit helps
- Take some time to breath and be mindful - It may seem like the impossible to take 5 minutes during this season for yourself but research shows that giving yourself time to “just be” will help bring you back to the present where you can make more conscious sound decisions, even i rewards to your spending. It can also help you relax and decompress during stressful times by slowing your heart rate , lowering your blood pressure and decreasing your cortisol levels.
Make this the year that you enjoy your holidays and go into the new year feeling healthy and prepared instead of making That your new years resolution.
- Donna Taylor
When I think of good nutrition I hearken back to the days of old. When I was just an adorable little tot not wanting to eat my vegetables. Unfortunately what the boss lady says, goes, and I’d be sitting at the dinner table while everyone else was having a raucous good time. Simply because I refused to eat my vegetables.
Looking back I was missing out on a lot. To be honest when it comes to nutrition we may know what is good for us, but many of us aren’t too clear on the why, and well sometimes that makes all the difference.
You see vegetables are chalked full of vitamins and minerals, all of which support vital functions for the body. From performance to even just looking good. Paraphrasing the wise philosopher - Mr. T, “I pity the fool who does not eat his vegetables”. Don’t worry though, there are other solid food sources too.
In order to help you better understand vitamins and minerals I am going to make this a four part series. Making easy to understand and digestible lists (see what I did there?). Today we’re going to focus on Water Soluble Vitamins.
I'm not going to discuss all the main functions and food sources, but I hope what I provide helps.
Water Soluble Vitamins - Vitamins that dissolve in… you guessed it, water.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) - Helps your body in producing energy from food
- Popular Food Sources Include; spinach, tuna, and whole grains
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) - Involved in red blood cell production, and iron metabolism
- Popular Food Sources include; spinach, eggs, yogurt, and almonds
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) - Helps to control cholesterol
- Popular Food Sources include; asparagus, salmon, and whole grains
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) - Helps with the formation of acetyl-CoA, a very important molecule for metabolism
- Popular Food Sources include; broccoli, tomatoes, berries, eggs, avocado, and sweet potatoes
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) - Helps with red blood cell metabolism, supports nervous and immune system function
- Popular Food Sources include; bananas, spinach, avocado, tuna, and salmon
Vitamin B7 (Biotin) - Formation of four vital enzymes responsible for chemical processes in the body ranging from energy production to the useof fats
- Popular Food Sources include; green leafy vegetables, salmon, avocado, tomatoes, carrots, almonds, eggs, cucumber, and berries
Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) - Assists in the formation of new proteins, and red blood cell formation/circulation
- Popular Food Sources include; citrus fruits, lettuce and asparagus.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) - Assists in maintaining healthy nerve and red blood cells
- Popular Food Sources include; Beef, Tuna, and Eggs
Vitamin C - Protects cells from dangerous chemicals by acting as an antioxidant, develops collagen, an important structural protein
- Food Sources include; broccoli, citrus fruits, strawberries, and asparagus
There you have it. I know this is about as exciting as watching paint dry, but in order to live a healthier life and optimize your performance you need to consider not just carbs, fats, and proteins, but also vitamins and minerals.
Stay tuned for next time when we discuss fat soluble vitamins.