Have you ever experienced Christmas through the eyes of a child? My first Christmas with my nephew, Lorenzo, was when he was four years old. Watching his eyes twinkle as brightly as the Christmas tree lights at the near mention of Santa Claus rekindled in me that youthful magic of Christmas. I’m all in. The decorations, the carols, and even all the holiday movies send my mood soaring as swiftly as Santa’s sleigh! My two favorite movies are It’s a Wonderful Life and The Santa Clause. The lead characters, George Bailey and Scott Calvin, found themselves dealing with stress, alienation and regret. By the end of each film, both men were renewed through the love of their families and the joy of the season.
You may be thinking that now is not the time for you to reduce your stress — it’s inevitable, especially this time of year, right? It’s time to unwrap the reality before it runs you down any further. Did you know that nearly half of all adults have health issues directly related to stress? Too much stress in your life can over stress your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to infection and less able to recovery from illness and injury. Those factors may also lead to aggravation of existing and often painful conditions like fibromyalgia, migraines, herniated discs, acne, psoriasis and eczema. The long term effects of stress are even more distressing like the onset of diabetes in those predisposed, the worsening of high blood pressure and additional elevation of high cholesterol levels. Here are some tellings stats of our overburdened times:
- 75–90% of all doctor office visits are stress-related either in physical ailment or in complaints
- 48% of Americans report that they either overeat or eat unhealthy foods to cope with stress.
- 25% of people have skipped a meal in the past month due to stress.
- 6 leading causes of death are linked to stress including heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, liver damage and suicide.
Peace At Last
While you may be unable to entirely control your external environment, there are many things you can do to de-stress from the inside out. Here are seven key nutrients to help create some “inner” peace:
- Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) — a really cool neurotransmitter in the brain that has been coined as “nature’s relaxant.” It has been shown in studies to induce relaxation, reduce anxiety and stress and at the same time increase focus. By calming the nerves, it also helps the brain prepare itself for sleep.
- L-Theanine — an amino acid found in green tea that increases serotonin, dopamine and GABA. Think of these brain chemicals as stress soothers.
- B Complex Vitamins — essential vitamins that help calm and also help optimize your nervous system. During stress, you body demands more energy and the B’s respond by releasing energy from your cells.
- Valerian Root — an extract that helps reduce anxiety and nervous tension. Its benefits are often described as “alert relaxation” so that you can keep your wits about you in stressful situations without the negative effects taking their toll.
- Magnesium — an essential mineral that helps relax muscles, improve sleep and stimulate dopamine. Stress reduces magnesium levels and a lack of magnesium may result in muscle tension and leg cramps.
- Fiber — aids in digestion, levels out blood sugar and improves regularity. Stress tends to slow down digestion and raise blood sugar levels so the body may not absorb key nutrients which may result in a packing on of the pounds. Fiber fills you up, protects your heart and improves your immune system.
- Omega-3’s — these essential fatty acids help to increase our resistance to stress. Along with antioxidants, these nutrients act like a shield of armor to help protect and boost our immune system. They also help improve cognitive functions like memory, performance and behavior.
Remember to move too! Exercise is always beneficial and especially helpful in reducing the dreaded stress hormone, cortisol. Exercise increases the relaxation hormones mentioned above which in turn elevate your mood and your attitude.
Why not take a moment right now to relive a happy childhood memory? Maybe it’s dashing down the stairs Christmas morning, diving under the tree, and furiously unwrapping presents. How about helping your mom bake cookies with the sweet aroma of chocolate and cinnamon swirling through the house? (Both are good for you, by the way with great calming effects). Did you help Dad put up the lights over the front porch or light the Menorah during Hanukkah? Here’s my happy little poem for you — I warned you that I’m one of those jolly Christmas junkies!
No matter your memory, old or new
You’ll be wise to capture a few.
For a holiday season without stress
May be the way to make it your best.
Do what you can to relax today,
And you’ll be jingling all the way.
Stay tuned for next week’s article — my favorite, healthiest gift tips to share with you for the holidays and beyond!
Calming Coupon: Go to www.My24kVIP.com vip code: gold to enjoy great holiday discounts on 24KTM (healthy energy/focus shot) and access an entire line of stress-busting blends. The 24K ingredients that zero in on stress include B vitamins, Gama Aminobutryric Acid (GABA), L-theanine and valerian root, among others.
“When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy…when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”
Copyright © 2012 by Christine A.Toriello, all rights reserved.