The Surprising Dangers of Stress and The Top Ways to Overcome Them This Holiday Season

Stress is something we all encounter from time to time. Thanks to covid, quite a few of us have felt quite a bit of stress over the past 18 months, and there’s a good chance will probably experience more in the near future. We are now entering the holiday season, which can be a stressful time as well. Here are some of the best ways to deal with stress naturally.

Full body of young man in sneakers and jeans pushing and falling boxes saying Work Problems Anxiety Stress and Deadline while fighting with problems

 What Exactly IS Stress?   How Can We Deal With It? 

 In its simplest terms, stress is something that causes mental tension. Stress is considered a bad word by some, but not all stress is bad. Some stress is good, like the butterflies you might feel when you’re about to play in a big game, or when you prepare for that important job interview. That type of short term stress can be good for you because it gets your blood flowing. The stress we need to be concerned with is the bad stress.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What keeps me up at night?
  • What makes me angry?
  • What upsets me?

These are examples of bad stress and what we need to be concerned with.

For some, trying to pay bills while dealing with rising prices and inflation is stressful. Others are worried about vaccine mandates and job security. Some people are stressed by obnoxious drivers or sitting in rush hour traffic. Unruly kids, marital issues, or other challenges. can quickly make a pleasant day extremely stressful. Any of these situations can quickly ruin your mood and put you in a stressed mind state that must be quickly dealt with.

Effects of Long Term Stress

Whatever the cause of your stress, it could have an impact on your health in many different ways. Click on the links below to view scientific studies on each health issue:

How many people are dealing with health issues caused by stress and don’t realize it? How effective is medication when the cause of the ailment (stress) isn’t addressed? In other words, getting to the root cause of the problem must addressed in order for healing to begin.

For example, a patient diagnosed with high blood pressure may be given medication to keep keep blood pressure levels in check. But what is the root cause of the elevated blood pressure? The doctor may advise to stop eating certain foods, but why is the patient eating those foods?

A Doctor Measuring His Patient's Blood Pressure Using a Sphygmomanometer
Studies indicate chronic stress may have an influence on increased blood pressure.

Upon further analysis, the patient is a stress eater: when worried about their bills and money situation, they ease their mind by turning to comfort foods such as fast food, potato chips and sweets, which are high in sodium. Medication may help their blood pressure over the short term, but the key to keeping it low over the long term will be to find healthier ways to deal with worrying about money and bills.

Coping with Stress

How do you cope with stress? There are many ways to deal with stress, some good, some bad. Here are some of the most popular ways to effectively deal with stress:

  • Exercise
  • Hobbies (playing an instrument, jigsaw puzzles, etc.)
  • Watching a funny movie or tv show
  • Fixing (or eliminating) toxic relationships
  • Spend quality time with friends or family
  • Take a break from social media
  • Talk to someone you trust
  • Say “no” more often
  • Schedule some “me” time
  • Prepare for various tasks the night before
  • Meditation

Stress and Comfort Foods

During the pandemic lockdowns, millions of people were stuck in their homes with nothing to do. To ease the stress (and boredom), many turned to comfort foods.

What is your favorite comfort food? What food makes you feel better when you’re stressed or going through a tough time?

Here are some of the most popular comfort foods:

  • Fried chicken
  • Pizza
  • Hot dogs
  • Chocolate cake
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Apple pie
  • Ice cream

As you look at this list, ask yourself the following questions:

If stress affects insulin and could increase your risk of getting diabetes, is it possible that cake, cookies, and chocolate may do more harm than good?

If stress is known to raise your blood pressure, how wise is it eat foods high in sodium such as hot dogs and fried chicken?

Next time you’re stressed, instead of filling up on comfort foods, eat these instead:

Blueberries: Blueberries contain high amounts of vitamin C, which along with other beneficial antioxidants, help to combat the stress hormone cortisol.

Water: There’s a strong possibility you’re dehydrated when under stress because your heart rate may increase and you’re breathing heavier than normal. As a result, you lose fluid.  On the flip side of binge eaters, you have those who DON’T eat or drink, thus making their dehydration and nutritional needs worse.

Oranges: Oranges are an excellent source of Vitamin C, which helps your immune system function under stress more efficiently.

Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are a good source of iron, which is important for red and white blood cell production.  Iron is also resistant to stress, assists in proper immune functioning, and the metabolizing of protein.

Green veggies:  Spinach and other green vegetables like broccoli, greens snd romaine lettuce  have magnesium, which is a mineral that helps lower your stress level by keeping you in a calm state.

Low fat Milk: Milk actually helps your nerves stay healthy and it can stabilize your blood sugar. It also stops you from feeling those extreme highs and lows when you eat sugar.

Putting It All Together

The past 18 months have been stressful for us all. Some people can handle stress effectively while others struggle with finding ways to cope. The key is to know what your stress triggers are and how to neutralize them before they become harmful to your health. Exercise, eating healthy foods, laughter and other options are excellent ways to ease and manage stress.

In order to become the best you can be, you must change your mindset. No one can do it for you, you must want it for yourself. Get more great tips in my award winning Amazon Best Seller: The 3 Pillars of Strength: Increasing Your Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Fitness and The Diet of Success: Healthy Eating Tips for Hard Working Professionals. Available in paperback, kindle, and audible formats. 

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