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Is Christmas stressing you out?

Apart from causing anxiety and pressure, stress also creates some physiological changes in the body.

Stress causes the adrenal glands to secrete the ‘fight or flight’ hormones – adrenaline, noradrenalin and cortisol. In the days when we were hunter-gathers the fight or flight reaction was vital for enabling us to flee dangerous situations whilst out hunting.

Our modern stresses are obviously very different! Fast paced lives mean that many people are now under long-term stress, which can cause the adrenals to become fatigued.  When this happens, sleep, mood, concentration and appetite are often disrupted. Long-term stress can make us more vulnerable to illness and can contribute to many health problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis and repeated colds and infections.

Some simple dietary and lifestyle changes can help counteract the effects of stress and help you stay healthier.

Eat little and often (never skip meals), avoid refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta and cakes, avoid or reduce stimulants (alcohol and caffeine), and eat a little protein at each meal/snack. Dips in blood sugar trigger the adrenal glands to release adrenaline putting more pressure on your adrenal function.

Chew your food well and aim to eat in a relaxed environment. This will help your body to digest and absorb nutrients efficiently.

Sleep is vital for rest and repair.  Aim to get eight hours a night. Go to bed early and get up at the same time each day as this helps to set your body clock.  Allow yourself to wind down before going to bed – have a warm bath and read a good book or practice deep breathing.

And finally – don’t take yourself and life too seriously.  Just smiling can reduce your stress levels.

If you’d like to find out more on how stress is affecting your body, book in for a nutrition consultation and get some more personalised support.

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