Saturday, December 14, 2013

Stress-Less Holidays





Stress-Less Holidays

by Regina Ann


Stress and Depression are the chief complaints I work with throughout the holiday season. The amount of stress we tend to put on ourselves is ridiculous. Add to that the statistics of depression and the holidays and you quickly see the importance of Self-Care during this time of year. Empowering yourself with a little knowledge and some useful tips, you can enjoy a Stress-Less Holiday!

#1: BREATHE

It’s amazing how much we take breathing for granted. Breathing is said to be the number one way to reduce body acidity which automatically reduces stress on the body. Highly oxygenated blood also creates an environment where everything works together well and stress is reduced.

The breathing for stress technique I prefer is as follows:
·         Focus on your breath
·         Breathe in slowly filling your lower abdomen with oxygen
·         Count slowly as you breathe in and hold the breathe in the lower belly for the same count
·         Exhale for the same count as you breathed in
·         Repeat

Begin your day with a repetition of at least three of these. Practice throughout the day as you notice you are getting stressed. End your day with another repetition of three before you rest. 

Keeping your body oxygenated makes everything work better and reduces stress at the same time. So take some time to breathe.

#2: FOOD

Balancing the right foods can help your body produce the serotonin, dopamine and endorphins that keep you feeling calm while holding depression at bay.  While there are supplements available to help your body receive the nutrition it needs, food is nature’s way of providing our bodies with exactly what they need to thrive. Always use local, organic food as much as possible for best results.

B Vitamins are quickly depleted during times of stress. Replacing them helps the body maintain balance. Food sources of B Vitamins include:
  • Animal proteins (use local, organic, grass fed)
  • Asparagus, broccoli, spinach, bananas and potatoes
  • Dried apricots, dates and figs
  • Milk, eggs, cheese and yogurt
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fish
  • Brown rice

Liver Support is essential especially during times of stress. The liver manages toxins, both physical and emotional. Add the emotions of the holidays to the physical toxins we are exposed to every day and you can see why liver care is so important.  Liver supporting foods include:

  • Beets
  • Ginger
  • Onions & Garlic
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Dandelion
  • and Turmeric

Balanced hormones are key. Serotonin, dopamine, melatonin, and endorphins all play critical roles in our ability to cope with stress and depression. Here are some food choices that are linked to a boost production of these key hormones:

  • Almonds
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Complex Carbohydrates
  • Dark Chocolate (85% cacao, organic) in moderation
  • Teas
  • Animal protein (Tryptophan)
  • Omega 3 fats
  • Probiotic producing foods (fermented foods)



#3: MEDITATION & MOVEMENT

Make time for Meditation & Movement! Balancing inactivity with activity maintains balance in the body systems, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Balance allows all things to work together optimally for the good of the organism.

Create a sacred time for yourself daily in which you exercise and mediate. Exercise has been linked to an increase of serotonin and dopamine levels. Meditation has been linked to reduced stress, anxiety and depression.


#4: SUNSHINE & BEDTIME
Vitamin D is another essential element of mood health. Those of us who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can tell you how important Vitamin D is for the depression and other SAD symptoms we may experience. The most effective way to get your D is by spending some time in the sunshine. During the winter months take a sun break of at least 10-20 minutes during the height of the sunny part of the day for best results. Combining your sun exposure with a walk, bicycle ride, some Tai Chi or Yoga, can give you double the benefit by adding exercise to your sun time.

Maintain a regular time of rest in bed. Having a routine bed time and waking time creates a rhythm for your body allowing melatonin production to become regular. Keeping a regular sleep schedule during the holidays can be tricky. If you get off your routine simply get back to it as soon as possible and be certain to include the other components we’ve discussed to help your body get back on track.

Of all these great tips for helping you have a Stress-Less Holiday season perhaps my number one tip is to always remember you are in control. In every situation you have choices. Even if the choices are between bad and worse, you still have a choice. Since you always have a choice, you are always in control. There are those things you do not control but you always control your responses to them.

Have a Beautiful Holiday Season!


Written for an published in the Health & Wellness section of Inner Child Magazine

~*~ Regina Ann is the founder of Integrative Wholistic Solutions and a Holistic Health & Wellness Practitioner offering Complimentary and Integrative Medicines, resources and tools to assist you in achieving emotional, mental, physical, spiritual Well Being. Visit IntegrativeWholisticSolutions.com to learn more.

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