Cortisol – The (Holiday) Stress Hormone
Cortisol is the stress hormone and is produced in your adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys.
It’s the “fight or flight” hormone, so can be pumping out like crazy when we’re stressed out and strung out. Over time, high cortisol can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, sleeplessness, digestive issues, low sex drive and anxiety.
Pah Humbug to that. And to holiday stress.
Modern life is stressful. This time of year can be especially stressful. Let’s look at some ways to Keep Your Cool This Yule and balance those crazy cortisol levels.
1. Ration the Alcohol
I know, I know. Easier said than done. Especially if you’re feeling festively frazzled. It can be tempting to reach for the bottle … and then keep pouring.
But please don’t. You may feel slightly better initially but alcohol actually raises cortisol levels. You’ll end up stressing out an already stressed-out body. Bad for holiday stress.
If you’re struggling to quit or reduce your alcohol intake take a look at this free e guide to Hangover Free Happy Holidays . It’s by ace blogger and former Wine Bitch (her words, not mine), Sober Sassy Life.
There are some great alternatives to booze which won’t make you look or feel like a killjoy. Have you tried making your own mulled apple juice for example? Or get inspiration from the internet for mocktails and interesting non-alcoholic drinks like these.
It doesn’t just have to be plain, fizzy water.
2. Cut out the Caffeine
Jeez, I’m a buzzkill, right? Ezmerelda Scrooge herself.
Nah, I’m a broken record… caffeine raises cortisol levels too.
Try to limit the tea/coffee or try to substitute it with a coffee substitute like Barley Cup or some herbal tea. Avoid those fizzy drinks.
3. Balance Your Blood Sugar
Don’t face-palm. It’s quite easy really.
Basically, eat good quality protein with each meal or snack. Lean turkey not Turkey Twizzlers.
And avoid refined sugar and carbs (including the alcohol), where you can. That way you’ll avoid insulin spikes, rollercoaster energy levels and potentially, mood swings. Yep, eating well can reduce the risk of you getting bat shizzle crazy by the time the Queens Speech comes on.
So fill up on the smoked salmon, the lean meat, the veggies (hopefully not laden in fat), fruit and nuts.
Try to limit the potatoes, fatty meat, rich sauces, bread, cheese, cakes, pastries, chocolates, sweets, decadent desserts, crisps and other salty snacks.
Breathe. Slow, deep breathing. The kind that pokes your belly right out with you INHALE and sucks it back to your ribcage when you EXHALE.
It’s good to relax for 10 minute or more, but even if you only count to 10 or 20, you will feel calmer. Holiday stress relieved temporarily. Cortisol levels reduced.
Or you could try meditation, relaxation techniques or yoga. Ask Santa for a relaxation CD or a yoga DVD?
As a bonus for being such a good girl this year, here’s a FREE relaxation download from my good friend Hypno Sarah at No Longer a Problem. Give it a go when the stress levels rise. Or ideally BEFORE.
AND FINALLY…when it all gets too much.
5. Get the hell out of there
Get yourself some “me time” away from stressful situations and *ahem* people.
Even if it’s a short strut around the block with the mutt, it will help you count to ten, clear your head and reduce your holiday stress levels.
Getting away might give you a fresh perspective on situations. Remember Uncle Colin the cheating, conniving *^3_^!/ ? Maybe he’s a good lesson for the kids in the consequences of cheating?
Even better still for holiday stress, really pamper yourself – a massage would be most excellent. Some studies show that they actually reduce cortisol and support the immune system. Heck, prescribe yourself a massage! Or reflexology. Or anything that really makes you bliss out and forget the stress.
So there you have it it.
It can be the most wonderful time of the year. All you need is a plan, a fresh perspective, a relaxation download and an escape route. Oh and ask Cousin Fran to invite Uncle Colin this year. It’s soooooooo her turn.
Love, Kathy x