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Condition - Beat the stress!

By Jenny Bodenham BA (Hons) DipION MBANT

Seasonal stress levels can soar in the build-up to Christmas as you juggle shopping trips, entertaining and preparations for the big day, while trying to keep the children calm! Then, of course, there are the parties, where you may over-indulge in rich foods and alcohol and miss out on valuable restorative sleep.

Raised stress levels can have an effect on blood pressure and may also deplete the body of nutrients, putting additional strain on the immune system and wreaking havoc with energy levels. Forward planning and delegating jobs among family and friends can be helpful. A long soak in a warm, relaxing bath can help relieve tired, aching muscles and soothe away the stresses of the day. For greater benefit, why not add alkalising mineral salts, which help to cleanse the skin and draw out toxins, balancing the system after too much party food. Supplementing a mix of botanicals, such as Melissa officinalis and passion flower with theanine and taurine, may further help to maintain an inner sense of calm and a relaxed outlook. The herbs rhodiola and ashwagandha may also be beneficial in supporting the body’s resistance to stress and anxiety.

Too much stress can have a detrimental effect on the immune system, depleting essential nutrients, such as vitamin C and magnesium, leaving you vulnerable to colds and flu just when you are looking forward to enjoying the Christmas festivities. Keep the immune system healthy by eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits which are in season, such as satsumas, berries, leafy green vegetables, sweet potato, squash, carrots and red cabbage. Herbs, such as olive leaf, echinacea and black elderberry, may be supplemented, as well as nutrients such as vitamin C and zinc, to provide extra support.

During the winter months, sunlight is in short supply, so vitamin D produced naturally in the skin is likely to be at its lowest level. Studies suggest that vitamin D may have a role in maintaining immune system balance. Supplementing extra vitamin D may, therefore, be beneficial, not only for immunity, but also to support mood at a time of year when SAD (seasonal affective disorder) affects one in 50 people in the UK.

Often, stress and fatigue can make a caffeine and sugar fix seem very tempting! Unfortunately, this can disrupt blood sugar balance so that, following an initial burst of energy, you may feel tired, irritable, anxious and hungry for another quick fix of sugar. Snack on nuts and a little dried fruit rather than cakes and biscuits and, instead of tea or coffee, why not try a warming and invigorating, caffeine-free, cat’s claw tea? Chromium is important for regulating blood sugar levels, so supplementing may be beneficial, while B vitamins and ginseng will help support energy production and resistance to stress, giving the body a timely lift.

Enjoy a healthy and relaxing Christmas! 

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