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How to reduce your stress levels this festive season

By Dr Andre Comrie

The festive holidays should be times of fun and celebration, but often we simply feel over-stressed and wish it would all just go away! Why?

We tend to over-reach ourselves, spending too much, partying too much and generally overdoing things. Our bodies don’t react at all well.

Now read about avoiding heart disease, the number one killer.

Stress puts us into fight or flight mode. Hormones are released which increase our breathing, heart rate and blood pressure, shutting down essential functions like digestion and the immune system until the crisis passes (after New Year, if we’re lucky).

Being on high alert for long periods damages our health, leading to ailments such as heart disease, anxiety, irritability and even depression, diabetes and digestive problems.

We can reduce our stress responses with some ordinary daily habits, and now is the time to do something about it.

Reducing your caffeine intake will go a long way towards reducing stress. Picture: Elizabeth Tsung on Unsplash

Reduce caffeine intake

Caffeine is a stimulant and causes the adrenal glands to release even more stress hormones! Nervousness, anxiety and insomnia increase. It also depletes magnesium levels in the body, compromising energy production.

Reduce intake of sugars, refined carbohydrates and processed fats

Sugary foods set one on the debilitating rollercoaster of energy bursts, followed by lows as blood sugar levels crash.

Studies show that diets high in processed fats increase the risk of depression by up to 58% compared with a whole food diet, and also have negative effects on cell membrane and nerve health and energy production.

And don’t forget to laugh.

Alcohol tends to increase stress

It stimulates the release of adrenalin, affects blood sugar levels and leads to sleep problems, nervousness and even skin irritations.

Picture: Brooke Lark on Unsplash

So, what to do?

Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, also complex wholegrain carbohydrates. These stabilise blood sugar levels and stimulate the production of serotonin – the feel-good hormone!

Calcium-rich foods are also important.

Supplement with vitamins B and C, and calcium and magnesium, to ensure you’re not running on empty.

Switch to healthy snacks, including nuts and seeds, raw vegetables and fruits. Don’t let yourself get too hungry, as the temptation to reach for processed or sugary foods can become overwhelming.

Dabbling in vegetable gardening?

Omega 3 is essential for brain health and moderates psychological and physical stress. Odds are that you don’t eat enough oily fish to meet your needs, so a good supplement is essential.

And remember, there are supplements worth taking and some that really are not so good.

Contact me on 084 506 3643 for more information.


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