Stress and the holidays…
2020 has been a bit stressful, to say the least. With the holidays coming, stress can be heightened.
A common result of stress can be overeating as well as indigestion. Not only does overeating result in consuming unwanted calories, but it also can wreak havoc on your digestive system.
You know it when you feel it; that full, uncomfortable sensation in your belly during and/or after a meal. You might even have burning or pain in the upper part of your stomach. That is indigestion, also called dyspepsia.
Indigestion can happen simply by being stressed and not paying attention to our diet.
Simple ways to reduce stress during the holidays can include:
- Find a stress-reducing exercise; take a long walk, ride a bike, even a massage or taking time for a manicure-pedicure can relieve stress.
- Engage your brain! Crossword puzzles, watching a movie or even puttering around in a workshop can take your mind off your stress and away from food.
- Eat healthy foods and stay on schedule! Skipping meals triggers your brain that you are hungry and may cause you to binge on your next meal.
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol
- Eat slower and chew your meal thoroughly
- Avoid greasy foods
What are the healthy foods to reach for?
- Oatmeal: Reach for warm and gooey oatmeal instead of those holiday cookies. It contains the healthy carbohydrates and fiber needed to boost your serotonin levels.
- Chamomile Tea: Stress time is the perfect teatime. In a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, adults with mild to moderate generalized anxiety disorder who took chamomile extract for 8 weeks saw greater reductions in anxiety than those who took a placebo. Plus, it can also help you sleep.
- Turkey: Turkey contains high concentrations of tryptophan, which is broken down to form serotonin to induce feelings of calm and even help your body make drowse-inducing melatonin.
- Almonds: Almonds contain vitamin E and B, which may protect both your immune system and mood. A handful of almonds packs about 20% of your daily-recommended intake of magnesium, which fights free radicals in the body. Not getting enough magnesium can even cause fatigue and trigger migraine headaches.
- Sweet Potatoes: Here’s a whole new reason to give thanks: With more nutrients than their colorless cousin, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of the antioxidant lycopene, which improves mood by preventing the formation of pro-inflammatory compounds, like interleukin-6, that are linked to depression. Sweet spuds are also high in other mood enhancers like B6 and magnesium.
- Salmon: All omega-3 fatty acids are good for you, but when it comes to battling holiday stress, DHA and EPA are the ones you need. Found primarily in fatty fish like salmon, they support healthy brain cell function, endorphin levels, and positive moods by keeping cortisol and adrenaline levels in check. Plus, just one serving of salmon contains more than half of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin D, which most women fail to meet during the winter because of a lack of sunlight.
- Oysters: These suggestive shellfish contain more than seven times the zinc per serving of any other food. Why does it matter? Zinc deficiency can cause depression and anxiety, and supplementation is an effective form of treatment.
What else can we do around the Holidays to reduce stress?
- Take time for sunlight: It stimulates the production of feel-good serotonin and also helps relieve seasonal affective disorder(SAD). To ease SAD symptoms, spend time outdoors or near a window on sunny days.
- Take a whiff of Citrus: Researchers studying depression have found that certain citrus fragrances boost feelings of well-being and alleviate stress by upping levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that affects mood. For an all-day pick-me-up, dab a little lemon or orange essential oil on a handkerchief to tuck in your pocket.
- Walk away your worries: The rhythm and repetition of walking have a tranquilizing effect on your brain, and it decreases anxiety and improves sleep. Aim for a half-hour brisk walk each day.
- Stick with your daily routine: Prioritize your workouts, book club, etc., and don’t try to squeeze in more holiday than you can handle.
- Go Tech free: Constant cell phone buzzes and email alerts keep us in a perpetual fight-or-flight mode due to bursts of adrenaline. Not only is this exhausting, but it contributes to mounting stress levels, especially in women. What better time to turn your gadgets off than during a holiday get-together?
- Do not overschedule: If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed by your holiday agenda, don’t over-schedule your time and take on more than you can manage. Remember: It is OK to slow down a bit.
Take care of your health and do not ignore your symptoms. Stress can take its toll on your body. Whether you are having GI issues or just feel overall sluggish, make time to see your doctor.
We are here to help. The physicians at Hunterdon Gastroenterology Associates are experts in helping you stay healthy.
Give us a call today at 908-483-4000
Explore Health. Dec. 2019
Health.com Sept. 2020