Alleviate stress this holiday season with these simple stress busters. You’ll feel better and eat less.

  1. Get moving. Aerobic exercise is probably the best way to beat stress. The stress response is actually your body’s primitive way of dealing with stressors. Way back when most stressors were physical—attacks by animals, fire, the elements—and so your body would produce extra adrenaline and cortisol so you could run or fight off those stressors. Nowadays, most stressors are mental; yet your body still reacts the same way. Only now it can’t burn off those stress hormones, and when those hormones sit in your body, they can cause fat to accumulate. By hitting the gym, you can burn that stress response right off. Just 20 minutes on the Stairmaster or a running machine can make all the difference.
  2. Stretch out your stress. Yoga is a great way to alleviate symptoms of stress. A recent study done in Thailand found that people with hypertension—a stress-related condition—were actually able to lower their blood pressure by practicing yoga regularly.
  3. Get a rub down! Massage is also an excellent way to relieve stress—so much so that many hospitals offer it as a complementary therapy. According to a survey conducted by the American Hospital Association and the American Massage Therapy Association, 74 percent of hospitals that offer massage to patients do so for stress management.
  4. Breathe easy. Simply focusing on your breathing can be a great, take-anywhere stress reliever. Next time you feel your blood pressure rising, try this technique: Sit up straight and either close your eyes or gaze at something in front of you. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, allowing your stomach to expand. Then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat until your breaths become even and you begin to feel more relaxed.
  5. Meditate tension away. Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated or new agey to alleviate stress. Taking just 10 minutes out to meditate during the day can relax, refocus, and rejuvenate you. For quick meditations you can do just about anywhere, visit www.learningmeditation.com.
  6. Enjoy your food. Worrying about what you can and cannot eat is one way to add stress to your life around the holidays. I always want my clients to feel like they’re eating in the real world. True, to reduce weight you need to cut back on certain foods. But you shouldn’t feel like you can’t eat at restaurants, parties, and holiday festivities. That means you do get to eat when you’re out, and you don’t have to turn down every sweet offered to you. The key is to exercise a little good old-fashioned moderation. Look at the holidays and all the celebrations as a part of your healthy eating lifestyle, rather than as an excuse to indulge. Yes, you can have a slice of cake at your office holiday get-together, but have a slim one and skip your snack. Have an extra glass of wine, but count that as your dessert. And be sure to enjoy what you’re eating. Take the time to do that, and you’ll find you have less desire, and time, to go back for more food, and you’ll find holiday eating a whole lot less stressful.

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