7 Ways to Stay Healthy & Energized When Stress Is Creeping In
by Kit Schumaker, BSN RN
December 17, 2018 .4 min read
We all know the holidays can be a very joyous time of year but it can also be a very stressful time as well. From the never-ending list of presents to purchase to prepping and cooking a holiday dinner for all of your guests, it’s no wonder that so many people find themselves getting overwhelmed and stressed during the holiday.
In a recent report, 88 percent of Americans revealed signs of stress when it came to celebrating the holidays.
While women are 41 percent more likely to report physical and emotional symptoms of stress than men (30 percent), which is likely due to the way our bodies process stress hormones – it’s important to note the two types of stress one can encounter: helpful and harmful.
Helpful stress creates motivation and the ability to power through your daily checklist and/or giving a stellar presentation at work.
Harmful stress tends to continue over time, becoming debilitating and dangerous and tends to arise during some of our toughest moments in life.
During the holidays, many are more likely to experience helpful stress as 28 percent of Americans reported the stress they felt over prepping the house for guests while 47 percent reported stress over the amount of money they’ll have to spend around the holidays.
However, for more challenging life moments, such as divorce, the death of a loved one, job loss, financial difficulty or serious illness – you might find yourself battling a more harmful type of stress. With that, it’s important to find a way to fight through these moments with a certain level of mental toughness.
Here are seven things you can do to make sure you survive your difficult moment(s) with your health and energy intact:
1. Make a Prevention Plan
When stressed, you might experience decreased energy, weight gain (particularly around the belly area), GI upset, body aches, rapid heartbeat, frequent colds or infections, food addiction, or even and difficulty falling and staying asleep.
To prevent any of these side effects, it’s important to create a plan to support your health. Here’s a great guide you can reference.
Keep in mind that creating an effective stress prevention plan calls for more than just steps to follow, it requires us to gradually challenge our lifestyle.
By taking a gradual approach, it allows us to develop our motivations overtime and to also be prepared for those inevitable failures and relapses.
2. Make Your Wellness a Priority
Simple changes in your day to day life can have a huge impact on how your body responds to stress! When wellness is a priority and you make necessary life changes, you are putting yourself and your health first. Do not waver on this.
3. Take Deep Breaths
When stressed, it’s very common for us to forget to take deep full breaths.
By taking slow, deep breaths, this not only allows for additional oxygen to enter our brain but it also signals it to relax the body.
To encourage deep breaths, consider doing things like meditating, taking a nature hike, walking your dog or even driving in your car.
As you take your deep breaths remember to exhale and release negativity with it. Change your mindset and think about things for which you are grateful.
Exercise is a very personal activity, and in order to continuously do it, you need to love what you’re doing. Find something you enjoy doing, and stick to it.
Exercise increases your levels of Serotonin as well as your Endorphins, which increases feelings of happiness and overall hormone balance, helping you feel your best.
If you’re looking for a more holistic exercise approach, yoga and Qi Gong/Tai Chi incorporates deep breathing, meditation, and wellness, making for excellent choices when looking to decrease anxiety and stress.
When you exercise, your managing your stress, and in many cases even preventing it.
5. Adjust Your Diet
During times of stress, take it easy on caffeine and alcohol.
Instead, opt for foods like bananas, fish, avocados, chicken and leafy green veggies which contain B Vitamins. These are known to help to relieve stress by regulating our brain cells.
You can also opt for supplements (be sure to consult with your doctor before doing so) like B Vitamins, Omega 3 Fish Oil, and Vitamin C to help with stress.
6. Watch Your Levels of Vitamin D
The next time you have blood work done, have your doctor test your blood level for Vitamin D.
Higher Vitamin D levels are associated with a much lower incidence of Heart Disease, Diabetes, MS, Cancer, colds and flu, gum disease and much more.
It’s important to remember that during times of stress, you need to keep your Vitamin D level up. To do that, you might want to consider supplementing with a quality Vitamin D3 supplement.
7. Find Joy
When you are constantly on edge you’ll often find that your health can suffer.
With that in mind, it’s important to counteract those feelings with happy ones. How you go about this is a personal choice, but consider listening to music, writing in a journal, coloring, gathering with friends in a fun atmosphere, walk outside in nature, meditating or even practicing QiGong.
These activities will allow you to feel more joy and enables your brain and body to be more prepared to get through some of the toughest times with strength and perseverance.
Kit Schumaker, BSN RN, has spent her career as a healthcare executive. She has worked in startup companies, where she helped to launch disruptive technologies that challenged established protocols, as well as for large Fortune 50 pharmaceutical/medical companies such as Pfizer, STERIS Corporation, and Johnson & Johnson. Kit is happiest when she is operating as a change agent in healthcare. Her passion is to be an integral part of the current evolution happening in healthcare: combining the power of conventional medicine (surgical and medical intervention) with integrative wellness therapies to prevent disease and optimize health. Kit is a graduate of the University of Virginia and attended the Duke University Leadership Program in Integrative Healthcare. She is a contributing writer on the subject of Women’s Health for SmartHERnews, an online/Instagram news delivery service for women.