• Amber Swords, DPT

4 Tips to Reduce Stress and Improve Health During the Holidays

In light of Thanksgiving, the Be Strong Therapy Team wants to thank all of you for your kindness and support throughout our first year of business ownership. To say we have learned a lot throughout this process is an understatement. We are so grateful to each and every one of our clients! During the holiday season, we wanted to share with all of you some tips for staying healthy and reducing stress. We have certainty learned first-hand what works for us to minimize stress while not giving up our healthy habits during this past year.

In order to give some perspective about your author this month, I am a 35 year old mother of two young children and I am a full-time business owner. I am all about BALANCE in my work and every day life. I LOVE to workout, LOVE to eat, and LOVE to help people meet their true potential. I am writing this blog while sitting outside at one of my favorite locally-owned restaurants with a glass of wine and a plate of blue cheese chips in front of me. Tomorrow, I am scheduled to run 6 x 400s with a friend of mine at 5:30 am and I spent a couple of hours yesterday meal-prepping. It is all about BALANCE.

In life, it's all about taking care of your health while also having a little bit of fun!!

During the holidays this is especially important. I understand 100% that eating healthy is NOT always fun, but I'm here to tell you that there are ways to eat healthy, workout, and to create balance in your life that will leave you feeling fulfilled and accomplished.


Here are 4 tips to reduce stress while improving your health during the Holidays.


1. Exercise is, without a doubt, one of the most important ways to boost mood and improve overall health and wellness. Research has shown that exercise helps to increase endorphins in the body, which is similar to what an antidepressant would do. Antidepressants work to increase neurotransmitters in the body to assist in elevating mood. Exercise also releases these "happy hormones" that include dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. The best exercises to release these "happy" hormones are cardiovascular exercises, such as walking, running, cycling, aerobics…any exercise that will increase your heart rate for an extended period of time. According to the Mayo Clinic, doing 30 minutes or more of exercise a day for three to five days a week may significantly improve depression or anxiety symptoms. My advice to you would be to choose activities that you actually enjoy doing, otherwise you AREN'T GOING TO DO THEM! Doing exercises that you enjoy will help you to be consistent and actually stick with it!


2. Cheat Days. There, I said it…allow yourself a cheat day (or two) without beating yourself up or completely giving up. I'm here to tell you that I eat WHATEVER I WANT on Thanksgiving. The most important thing is to "get back on the wagon". Don't continue the behavior of "holiday eating". You are allowed to have a day (or two) of self-indulgence. Typically, you'll feel so bad physically that you won't want to keep doing it, but sometimes we get caught up in the habit of eating poorly because it's easier in the short-term. You will probably want to start some type of healthy eating plan in order to physically feel better! Treat yourself to delicious food, but don't keep repeating the destructive behavior of eating poorly and feeling badly. The most important thing here is that if you eat healthy foods, you will ultimately feel better. You will feel better about how accomplished you are for choosing to be healthy. You will no longer feel like food controls you or that you are addicted to food because it makes you feel good in the short-term.


3. Self care is especially important during this time of year during a "normal year". As we know, 2020 is anything but "normal" and this year has been stressful, to say the least. With respect to COVID-19, self care might look completely different than it used to. Self-care will also look different for each individual. Some examples might include: setting time aside for meditation, prayer, or self-reflection. Others might refresh by being around loved ones. This is especially difficult during this time, but gatherings can be modified and still be safe. As we have all heard, modifications include using zoom/video chat, wearing a mask, and hosting outdoor, socially-distanced gatherings. For me, self-care includes setting aside time to exercise. This is "me time" and it is much needed to help manage my crazy life.

4. Organization, will help to clear your mind and help you to feel prepared for whatever lies ahead. Organization can be applied to your schedule AND your environment. Sunday afternoons are my time to organize and plan for the following week. This is a great time to meal-plan or to organize your environment to prep for the week. According to Psychology Today, your brain will work better in a less cluttered environment. An organized environment will help to reduce stress and improve productivity.

These are just a few tips to help you stay on track and reduce stress during the holidays. We live in a time where we are "trying to do it all", which creates unwanted stress. Remember that having balance in your day-to-day life is going to help you stay on track with your healthy habits while helping you limit stress.


We hope you have a happy and healthy holiday season and we are truly thankful for all of YOU this year!

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495