Jan. 10, 2012
-- Almost everyone experiences holiday and post-holiday stress. But, do not let this take a toll on your health. With all the holiday activities and family gatherings all packed into one month, it is easy to get overwhelmed with stress even long after the holidays have passed. Stress causes our bodies to release high levels of cortisol, which has many undesirable effects such as irritability, increased risk for heart attack and increased appetite. Don’t let this discourage you, there are many things one can do in order to relieve stress and therefore lower cortisol levels!
“The first thing in any stress-reduction program is to exercise. It is a proven stress-reliever,”
says Anna Dornier, fitness trainer at Transform FX Fitness Bootcamp in Concord, CA. Exercise works in many ways to combat stress and lower cortisol levels. Scientific studies have shown exercise to help in naturally dropping your cortisol levels which lowers your appetite. Exercising regularly will also make physical tasks a lot easier to do and therefore lower stress associated with any physical challenge. The time you spend exercising is your time to clear the mind of anything you may be worrying about. Bootcamp workouts at Transform FX Fitness help with this as the whole workout is already set up for you and there is a trainer who will guide you through your movement ensuring proper form. In addition, you don’t have to worry about the crowds found in a typical gym.
The next step to a low stress holiday season is a healthy diet. A healthy diet will help keep your energy levels high and keep your body from feeling overwhelmed. One thing you should include in your regular diet is plenty of Vitamin C, found in abundance in bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, pineapple and oranges. Vitamin C can also help reduce your cortisol levels. One study published in the journal Psychopharmacology recruited 120 volunteers who were subjected to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). A test used to measure psychological stress. Those who took vitamin C had lower blood pressure, less subjective stress, and decreased cortisol levels than the placebo group. Another nutrient to include in your daily diet is Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts. This does not mean you have to eat fish every day but you can find Omega-3 fatty acids in pill form at any local health food store like Harvest House in Concord or Natural Life Foods in Pleasant Hill. One research study found that as little as 7-8 grams of fish oil a day can effectively reduce high cortisol levels due to mental stress.
Last but not least remember to take some time out of your day to relax, breath deep, and empty your mind of worry. “Deep breathing is very effective at calming you down and lowering your heart rate and blood pressure,” says Dornier. Always remember to take the time to treat your body right and you will be rewarded many times over.
East Bay residents can find out more stress-relieving strategies and weight loss information at http://www.transformfxfitness.com
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Anna Dornier is the owner and founder of Transform FX Fitness in Concord, CA. She's been helping busy parents and working professionals achieve their fitness goals and maintain their progress through time-saving weight loss tips and strategies.