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Holiday Self-Care

It’s the “best time of the year,” however most of us are more stressed than ever. Back to back parties, gift shopping, and regular work hours can leave us burnt out and even impact or body’s ability to handle stress. Here are my top three ways for remaining calm, cool, and collected.

1. Eat your greens– dark leafy greens like kale, collards, spinach, and swiss chard are some of the most nutrient dense foods, which means they have a high nutrient content per gram. Massaged in olive oil for a salad or sautéed with a little garlic makes a quick and easy side dish that supplies fiber, folate, vitamins A & K. Together, the vitamins help to fight free radicals and the fiber helps to sweep them out along with other accumulated toxins. Fiber also helps to feed our microbiome, which is home to over 50% of our immune system, helping us stay healthy! Aim for a minimum of 2 cups per day.

2. Exercise– physical activity is known to not only improve our mood, but it can also help to burn off the extra calories we make have picked up during a party or two. Building muscle increases our basal metabolic rate, which helps the body burn more calories at rest and can also improve blood sugar regulation. Additionally, a regular physical activity routine can help to increase circulation, cognitive function, and improve sleep! Aim for 30 minutes per day by walking, running, or going to a class.

3. Breathe– do you ever notice in stressful situations breath becomes short and it is difficult to exhale? This is because when we are stressed the sympathetic nervous system is activated and releases our stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol causes muscles to tense up, breath to shorten, and the body enters fight or flight mode. In fight or flight our body is preparing to run from a lion or fight for our life. This was useful when we were encountering situations like this however, now situations like a deadline, traffic, or dinner with the in-laws create the same reaction. Chronic spikes in blood pressure, insulin, and short breaths can set us up for poor health outcomes. So how do we avoid this?! Breathing! When a stressful situation comes up, pause and take 10 deep breaths through the nose and into the belly. Belly breaths have been shown to decrease our heart rate by 15 points in 10 minutes.

The holidays are magical, stressful, and come once a year, hopefully these little tips can help make them more enjoyable. Lastly, don’t forget to practice gratitude this season. It is easy to get caught up in the presents, parties, and drama but at the end of the day this season is about coming together to share love.

Have any tips you’d like to add to the list? Comment below!

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