The holiday season is upon us and it can rile up the best of us. The flight or fight response has become so commonplace, that people who arenotrunning in emergency mode seem like the odd ones out. When stress gets dialed up a notch, you may be able to feel the physical ramifications of excess stress hormones.
Adrenaline and cortisol can help you in the short term, but also make your heart beat faster, your muscles tighten and your breath quicken. Long-term stress can lead to weight gain or even depression, so it’s important to recognize it and know when to put on the brakes.
You’ve likely heard the adage that you can’t control your stress; you can just control your reactions to stress. Here are some more concrete examples on how to do this:
1)Tight muscles and a quickened breath are well aided with meditation exercises. Take some time tolie down (even just 5 minutes) and go through each part of your body, from your toes to your fingers.When you reach a new area, consciously tense it and then relax.If you’re holding a lot of stress in one particular area (such as your shoulders), it may take a few rounds.Tense. Relax. Tense. Relax.This will help to turn on your parasympathetic nervous system and aid the relaxation response.
2)Have confidence in yourself.Easier said than done, but whenyou believe that you can get through anything,you’ll ride out the bumpy patches of life without all of the cognitive and physical after-effects. Quotes plastered next to your computer screen may help, as will your optimistic and supportive friends. For now, try to limit your contact with the people who contribute to your anxiety.
3)Don’t be likeTaz. When you’re feeling overwhelmed,avoid foods that will give you a real high or low, likecaffeineor alcohol. If you can’t do this, stick to one mug or glass and nix the added sugars in your diet. Although we have labelled processed and high fat food comfort food, it’s anything but comforting. Junk food will lead to an inevitable crash.Try foods high in folic acid(like asparagus or chick peas), which is needed to affect serotonin. This will directly enhance your mood in a more positive way.
And like Gandhi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed”. So give your body a break and remember it’s OK to slooooow down.