Avoid stress eating at Christmas

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Whether you love or hate Christmas most people will usually admit that it can be emotionally stressful.

Did you know that according to the Stress Management Society, one in 20 people considers Christmas more stressful than a burglary, and over half of Britons will have had an alcoholic drink before lunch on Christmas day – to try to cope with the stress.

Chances are that in the run up to Christmas you have already been put under a lot of stress: what presents to buy and finding the money to do so, getting Christmas cards posted – including the late ones to people who you forgot but have sent you one as a reminder, preparing for family visits (the wanted and the obligatory) and buying in all the festive food whilst coping with the manic crowds in supermarkets.

All these are classic stressors but eating a bad diet, drinking too much or being constipated will also add to the stress. This is because when you’re feeling stressed, your digestive system doesn’t work too well, resulting in bloating, acid reflux, poor bowel function and fatigue. Your body can become inflamed and achy; you’ll crave sugar and your sleep will be disturbed. All this can lead to general grumpiness, and you’ll start to fly off the handle over the slightest thing. Then, if you’re a Christian, you will probably start to feel guilty as well –producing ever-greater stress.

Sound familiar? Well, don’t be too hard on yourself! Here are some simple ways to help reduce stress levels.
1. Keep things in perspective. Ask yourself: does it really matter if the lunch is late or the bed unmade?
2. Make the choice to be positive. There will always be some negatives to drag you down but there will be many positives also so focus on them
3. Know that you are in control and that you don’t have to be a victim of stress. Don‘t allow yourself to be manipulated or feel that you are somehow responsible for other people’s happiness. Feeling empowered helps you control your emotions and eating.
4. Breathe deeply. The body associates being stressed with that kind of upper chest, short, sharp breathing. When you force yourself to use your diaphragm and breathe deeply this helps you to override your stress response.
5. Smile and laugh as this will also actively change your biochemistry and calm down the production of stress hormones.
6. Take a well-earned snooze when you need one.
7. Treat yourself to a hot bath with a large handful of Epsom salts before bed. Epsom salts are full of magnesium, which will help you to feel calmer and relax tired muscles.

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