Fa-la-la-la-la Stressed?

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Fa-la-la-la-la Stressed?

Liam Echols

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It seems like every year the holiday season brings in unwanted stresses. Scientific studies have concluded that stress levels increase 40% during the holiday season, which explains the drastic increase in heart attacks during December and January. Although it seems like a challenge, fighting off this stress is a doable task if approached properly.  

Exercise: Although it may seem like the hardest thing to do when you’re feeling stressed out, make sure to get some exercise in. A good workout can help improve mood, as well as improving your energy. It’s been proven that exercise improves alertness and concentration, reduces fatigue, and enhances overall mental functioning ability. Due to the nerve connection throughout your body, when you start to feel stress, it affects the rest of your body as well. This process works in reverse, so if your body feels good (the exercise), then your mind will start to feel better. A consistent workout plan, or even just a half an hour of walking a day can dramatically increase your mood.

Get Light: Another factor for the decreased happiness during the holiday season is the shortening of days. Without sunlight, you’re more vulnerable to depression sneaking up on you. Exposure to sunlight helps release hormones in your brain called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with increased mood, as well as inspiring a sense of tranquility in individuals. Without proper serotonin levels, your stress and depression levels will increase. Try and make time to get yourself outside in the sunlight to take advantage of the natural benefits.

Stress Balls: When you’re stressed out, you have a lot of stress energy cooped up inside your body. A stress ball is a good way to relieve that energy. The motion and squeezing task of the stress ball helps take your mind away from the thing that you may be stressed about.

Get some sleep: While you sleep, your body recovers from stress, re calibrating your levels of cortisol, the main stress hormone. Research shows that a lack of sleep leads to imbalanced cortisol levels and decreased immune function, leaving you vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections, as well as many other potential health issues.

Diet: Avoid dairy products, gluten, and all types of sugar. They are known to lower your immune system and allow infection and stress building hormones to grow more easily. Allowing yourself to get sick in the winter time will only lead to increasing your stress levels and isn’t a fun experience in general. Here are a list of foods that will increase your chances of avoiding sickness throughout the winter, as well as help you out with stress prevention.

  • Nuts: walnuts, almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts — contain healthy fats and proteins which help maintain healthy cortisol levels and immune function
  • Fatty fish: wild salmon, mackerel and sardines — prevent cortisol from rising and provide healthy fats for a successful immune response
  • Berries: strawberries, blueberries and cranberries — help maintain healthy cortisol levels and antioxidants to protect your cells
  • Leafy greens: spinach, kale, chard and more — contain magnesium, which helps muscles relax, and calcium, which is calming, plus antioxidants
  • A healthy amount of proteins and fats, in addition to gluten-free carbs — to help balance your blood sugar and cortisol, which supports healthy immune function

Don’t be Cold: Science suggests that not being warm can lead to an increase in how easily you get irritated, and can quickly affect your overall stress levels. Be sure to be cozy and comfortable every time you leave your house; wear lots of layers, invest in a warm scarf, keep a hat on your head, and wear some boots. Thick fuzzy socks are a must have.

Whenever you’re feeling a little down throughout the holiday season, utilize these tips to try and ward off incoming stress.