Tis The Season for Stress Management


Article by Jeanette Chenevert

Photography by Jeanette Chenevert

Sad but true, a lot of American's gain weight over the holidays. It might be from over indulging in the holiday goodies, or maybe you have skipped the gym for shopping. These are just 2 ways that weight gain may be happening to you. But, there is a third way. Do you have any idea what it is? STRESS!

If you suffer from stress the other 11 months of the year, then this time of year may make it even worse. I promise, this article isn't about bringing you down, during the most wonderful time of the year. It's about learning ways to help keep you calmer, and the weight from piling on.

My first question to you is, how long does it take you to eat a meal? If you are eating in a stressed out state, your body is going to produce Cortisol. Cortisol, makes us gain weight around our midsection. If we are in a relaxed state when eating, then we will produce less cortisol, if any.

Do you eat when you notice you are getting hungry, or do you wait until you feel like you are starving? If you wait until you are starving, that is when bad choices are made. Let's say that you a feeling a little hungry. You have time to think about what you are wanting to eat. Maybe you go and pick up a salad. When you are starving, you want something now. Chances are you are going to McDonald's and getting a combo. Let's get curious, compare how you feel, after the salad and after that burger combo.

Do you make time for lunch, or are you eating on the go? If you are eating on the go, you are eating in a stressed out state. I encourage you to stop, breathe and find a place where you can sit down and take 20 minutes to eat.

What I'm getting at here, is that even when eating, we need to relax. I am going to give you a few tips, to help trick your brain into thinking you are relaxed.

  • Breathe in for the count of 5, hold your breath for the count of 5, and exhale for 7. If you do this before every meal, at least 10 times (takes a total of 2 minutes) This calms your brain down, and allows you to be relaxed, while eating. (this technique also helps during times of stress)
  • Make your meal last 20 minutes. Take a break by setting your utensils down between bites, chew your food more times. (this also aides in digestion)
  • Eat when you are just starting to get hungry, don't want until you are starving.

I leave you with this. It is always good to be relaxed, but in those times where we do find ourselves stressed, there are always different ways to help relax, even while eating.

Happy Holidays!

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