The holidays are time of cheer, celebration, and sometimes chaos! The pressure of meeting deadlines before holiday breaks, decorating, preparing meals, and shopping for loved ones can make for a less than happy holiday. While it may feel impossible to avoid feeling stressed or anxious there are a number of ways to maintain your mental health during the most wonderful time of the year!
The foods we choose impact our mood. Focusing on foods with mood boosting properties and blood sugar stabilizing nutrients will promote mental clarity and energy levels.
Carbohydrates- While Christmas cookies and other holiday treats look irresistibly delicious, the refined carbohydrates and added sugar they contain cause sudden spikes and drops in blood sugar and is linked to increased production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Carbohydrates are our bodies main source of energy; focus on those that are high in fiber and keep blood sugar steady. Think oatmeal for breakfast, brown rice or quinoa stir fry for lunch and whole wheat pasta at dinner.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids-Found primarily in fatty fish including salmon and tuna as well as walnuts and flax seed, these forms of fats are essential for proper brain function and play a role in keeping you positive by stabilizing cortisol and are anti-inflammatory which has been shown to help fight depression.
Magnesium-Found in spinach and other leafy greens as well as in nuts and legumes, this mineral is linked to reduced headaches, insomnia, fatigue, and generalized anxiety. Snacking on almonds during the day and incorporating beans and leafy greens into your meals will ensure adequate intake of this mineral; the original chill pill!
Take time during the day to incorporate feel-good physical activity. For some, the holidays are a time when regular exercise routines may fall off their to-do list, however this is when you need feel good endorphin-boosting exercise the most. A brisk walk or attending your favorite group fitness class is the perfect way to increase blood flow and lower symptoms associated with depression or anxiety. Meditation and reducing screen time (TVs, computers, cell phones, etc) can also promote improved sleeping habits and relaxation.
Make the most of this special time of year and share in the enjoyment and merriment of the holidays by incorporating these stress-reducing habits into your daily routine all season (and year) long!