Dec 6, 2021
Posted by: Monique Parker
Christmas is approaching fast and so are the days that a lot of people feel drained and stressed, especially with the extra worry of Covid again.
Although it is a lovely time of the year, many people feel it is also a particular stressful time. Think overcrowded shopping centres, office parties, late nights, planning Christmas dinner, family issues, travel and of course, indulging in a mince pie or alcoholic drink too many.
When you’re stressed, your body starts releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones tell the body to switch off all processes that are not needed to deal with the stress. Cortisol normally fluctuates throughout the day, but if you’re stressed all the time, your cortisol stays high, even when it should drop. Like in the evening, when it should drop, so you can relax and go to sleep.
High cortisol affects your blood sugar levels, promotes fat deposits in the liver and around your waist. It can also cause sleep disruption, fatigue, and affect your immune system etc.
Enough reason to keep your cortisol in check I would say.
So, what can we do to get through the festive season, being able to enjoy the time of the year, feeling festive and not run down and stressed?
1. Make sure you sleep enough (8 hours preferably), so when you have a late night every now and then, it doesn’t have such a big impact. Too many late nights will mess with your hormones.
2. Drink enough water so you stay hydrated. This is always a must, but especially important when you’re drinking alcohol, as alcohol dehydrates the body.
3. Cut down on the caffeine and other stimulants, as they increase your cortisol. Have a peppermint tea after dinner instead of that Espresso. It’s better for your digestion and your sleep too!
4. Make sure you eat protein, fat and vegetables with each meal. This will make you feel full, overindulge less, and will keep your blood sugar level more balanced.
Food that are high in sugar and low in fibre make your blood sugar level shoot up and then crash. Every time your blood sugar level crashes, your cortisol will go up. Not an ideal scenario, especially not if you’re stressed already.
5. Have a good breakfast, so your blood sugar level is balanced. This also helps controlling your appetite during the day.
6. Keep moving! Go for a walk and don’t cancel your usual exercise routines. Exercise is great for stress, but also for blood sugar balancing and, of course, for your waist line!
7. Planning well ahead will make a huge difference. It has definitely always been my saviour. Christmas shopping doesn't have to be done the week before Christmas, you can start any time of the year, unless you’re buying perishables of course. Planning your Christmas dinner, making your shopping lists, keeping your diary so you don’t get double-booked for parties, planning your travels….it all sounds obvious but I’m sure many people leave everything till the last minute and are in a right state by the time Christmas comes.
8. Last, but not least, don’t be too hard on yourself.
Are you not good in the kitchen? Keep your Christmas dinner simple or ask for help. You could even get the children involved if they’re old enough.
You don’t have much free time? Say no to an invitation for once instead of running around manically to keep everybody happy.
You’re at a Christmas party and the food is calling your name. Be selective and enjoy some of your favourite foods and drinks, but in moderation. And remember the protein, fat and vegetables I mentioned before.
And if you do overindulge one day and have heartburn, feel bloated or you wake up with a hangover, make a fresh start. I know it is very hard not to overindulge before, during and after Christmas (leftovers!!), but you will feel so much better if you watch what you’re consuming, especially when your stressed at the same time.
WISHING YOU ALL A STRESS-FREE, HEALTHY & RELAXED FESTIVE SEASON!