How to deal with festive stress

How to deal with festive stress

Author -  Good Health

Christmas can create serious emotional stress and as much as it can be a time of togetherness, it can also be a time of the year when many feel very overwhelmed or lonely. We know that a state of stress is not ideal, but our naturopaths have taken the time to outline just how harmful both short-term and long-term stress can be to your body.

Stress depletes energy levels

Although it’s an exciting time of year, the additional stress that accompanies the festive season has a huge impact on our nervous system. Chronic stress depletes energy levels because it has a negative effect on our nervous system due to the effects of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. The body produces these so that we can cope with the stress response. In order to maintain our energy levels we need to take regular breaks to calm down and restore the nervous system. That’s why it’s important to take a 5-minute break every now and then to calm your mind and body. 

Stress causes indigestion

When we’re stressed the body diverts its focus from digesting food to focusing on dealing with the more important job of coping with the stress response. Stress reduces digestive activity by diverting the blood supply away from digestion and putting it where it is needed, like in muscles and the heart. As a result we produce less digestive enzymes and are unable to break the food down and digest it, causing bloating, diarrhea, constipation, excessive wind and other symptoms such as heartburn and reflux. It’s best not to eat while we’re in this state and wait until you feel more calm. However, this is not always possible so if you’re hungry it’s a good idea to eat foods that are easier to digest such as soups or fruits. If you still experience problems, take a broad spectrum digestive enzyme formula to help relieve indigestion.

Stress lowers immunity

Chronic stress has an effect on the immune system's response to infections because it causes a reduction in white blood cell counts. This makes us more susceptible to infections such as colds and flu or even viruses that lay dormant in the body. Ever wondered why that cold sore comes out when you are stressed? It all makes sense now huh. Also, stress increases inflammation in the body and can make pre-existing conditions such as heart disease and autoimmune diseases (thyroid conditions, asthma, heart conditions, and diabetes) worse.

Stress makes you fat

Stress is related to weight gain and obesity. Weight gain not only occurs due to cravings as a coping mechanism and to ease tension, but also due to the release of cortisol, the major stress hormones that increase the deposit of fat around the middle. Weight gain in this area increases the risk of diabetes and heart problems. Stress increases cortisol and insulin which then causes cravings for sugar and salt, particularly carbohydrates. The body is being clever, because carbohydrates increase levels of tryptophan, an amino acid which is involved in increasing levels of serotonin important for healthy mood. This is okay short-term, but long-term causes weight gain. Interestingly enough, studies have shown an increase between stress and an increase in eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa.

Stress ages the skin

Ever noticed that when you are going through a stressful period your skin, hair and nails go to pieces? What is going on internally will eventually show up externally. Some skin disorders are triggered by stress; particularly acne (acne rosacea is a typical symptom), dry skin, eczema, psoriasis and cold sores. When you’re under stress, your blood flow is directed away from unimportant organs such as the skin and diverted to muscles and the heart to cope better with the trauma of stress. The reduction of blood and oxygen to your skin results in dull and dehydrated skin or with an increase in breakouts.

Stress and heart health

Stress greatly affects the mechanism of the heart, causing an increase in heart rate and a restriction of the arteries that causes high blood pressure. For people with pre-existing heart conditions, an increase in stress can affect the heart rhythm which causes a faster heart rate also known as tachycardia or a condition known as stress cardiomyopathy. This results from emotional or physical stress that can result in heart dysfunction, producing symptoms similar to a heart attack but without the usual obstructive coronary arteries.

Stress reduces fertility

Stress has a negative effect on the reproductive health, disrupting hormones which greatly affect the menstrual cycle and reduces men’s sperm count.

Stress  increases memory loss

Ever noticed how you seem to forget everything when you’re stressed? If you experience stress for a long period of time it can have a negative effect on your memory. The long-term effects of excess cortisol on the brain causes shrinking in the area of the brain known as hippocampus – which is where our memory is stored. It is still debated whether this shrinkage can be reversed.

Stress & Vitality Support is a triple action adaptogen tonic that supports your adrenal glands and the body’s natural resistance to stress. Stress &Vitality Support contains 3 adaptogens at clinically researched doses; Ashwaganda for nervous system support and rejuvenation, Siberian Ginseng for energy and vitality and Rhodiola for stamina and physical and mental performance.  Good Health’s Stress & Vitality Support helps you to feel recharged and in control. Try it as part of a holistic approach to stress management to get you through the additional stresses of the festive season.

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