You may have circled a couple of red-letter days on your end-of-year calendar – “red” as in “stressful” – but we all know that’s a miscalculation. It’s not just a couple of anxiety-making November and December holidays. People are coping with an extraordinarily stressful two-month-long holiday season.
Chocolate is a serious weakness of mine. It’s a little scary how a small square of that indulgent, rich deliciousness can change my entire mood. Turns out, I’m not crazy, there’s actually a physiological reason (I KNOW, I was relieved, too!), as recent studies have found that eating dark chocolate in moderate amounts reduces cortisol and catecholamines, the hormones related to stress and anxiety.
With Thanksgiving in a few weeks, we’re getting into the full swing of the holiday season. You may already have party invitations in the mail and travel plans on the calendar. Do you feel a bit worried about getting it all done while managing to stay fit and still enjoying the special occasions that come only once a year?
It’s definitely possible to have a healthy holiday season without having to deprive yourself of goodies and special treats. Here are a few guidelines to help get you through:
We all have those days, where everything seems to be on our very last inflamed and irritable nerve. From the car breaking down to the kids flipping out, everything feels like it’s all just too much! While we can’t control the fate of the universe, what we can do is be prepared with a few tricks to help ourselves cope.
Most people know that exercise is a great way to relieve stress. What rarely gets attention is the fact that reducing stress levels can actually improve exercise performance and recovery. Technically, exercise is a form of positive stress. Your body receives a stimulus, then adapts in a positive manner. The immediate results are better performance, increases in strength and less body fat. This is what is known as an “acute stress response” – a specific stimulus that lasts for a temporary period. Acute stressors can be very healthy, and are necessary for any type of growth.
More often than I care to admit, I fall asleep without washing my face. I live with the repercussions of blemishes, premature aging, and overall oiliness, meaning I end up needing more skin care products and costing myself more money, not to mention I’m old enough to know better. Why? Why in the world do I do this to myself? Bad habits, baby, they’re hard to break.
Dieting is tough enough. Add stress to the mix, and you may go from feeling “on edge” to crossing the line completely, reaching for the nearest bag of chips or chocolate bar to cope. That’s why stress management is a key part of any weight-loss plan. Stress increases appetite—and weight gain. When you utilize healthy coping techniques, it’s much more likely that you’ll stay on track and reach your weight-loss goals.
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