If you haven’t yet heard, Wednesdays are our Guest Blogger Series day! It’s a day where Stacy and I get a bit of a mid-week break while getting to share with you some of our favorite online bloggers. And for their hard work, they get the benefit of your readership – we encourage you to please show all of them your support by visiting their blog and social media links at the end of this post!
This week, we are joined by Iris Higgins of The Daily Dietribe and coauthor of The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guide Part 1 and Part 2. Not only is this wonderful blogger supremely talented, but she also has a fascinating story to tell of how she is working on her health and dealing with her autoimmune issues. In this post she shares her tips on how to destress during this stressful month in order to keep yourself healthy.
As readers of Paleo Parents, I know you’re more aware than the average person of how inflammation works in the body. You know that chronic inflammation can lead to and compound various diseases, especially autoimmune diseases. As someone who suffers from Hashimoto’s (an autoimmune thyroid disorder), I know firsthand the damage that inflammation can do on one’s body. Because of this, I’ve steeped myself in learning about ways to decrease inflammation. I started by going gluten-free and following an elimination diet. I went raw, went vegan, began eating paleo, stopped eating paleo, then began again, this time following the autoimmune protocol. When it comes to food, I’ve tried it all. I went back to school to become a nutritionist, then eventually left grad school, knowing the answer wasn’t there for me. While I continued eating paleo, my gut was telling me to focus on something other than food. Something I had been ignoring for years in my desperate attempts to reclaim my health.
I already knew from research I’d done in school that stress can increase inflammation exponentially. I knew from personal experience that my symptoms were always worse when my life got too hectic. And I realized that if I were ever to fully heal, I would have to address the stress in my life, which can be just as difficult as making dietary changes.
For me, reducing stress has meant completely restructuring my life. But I recognize that not everyone is able to do that. After all, I don’t have kids (yet) to think about. So for those of you who need to take smaller steps right now, I want to give you some simple tips for reducing stress. This is always important, but is especially necessary around the holidays, when inflammation often spikes due to the combined forces of stress and holiday parties filled with cheer (a.k.a. sugar and alcohol).
10 Ways to De-Stress During the Holidays
1. Make a list of everything you have to do today. Then choose three items on that list that are the most important. Make a new list with just those three top items on it. Throw the old list away.
2. Stop yourself before saying yes to every invitation you receive. The holidays are jam packed with get-togethers, parties and events. That doesn’t mean you have to attend all of them. You don’t need an excuse to stay home and relax with a good book. Just ask yourself what will make you feel happiest and healthiest. Go with whatever the answer is, no guilt allowed.
3. Turn off your computers, cell phones and TV. When was the last time you had all your technology devices turned off? Being connected to others at all times can be wonderful. It can also be an extra cause of stress. Give yourself at least thirty minutes a day where you pretend technology doesn’t exist.
4. Take a walk, preferably outside. Just ten extra minutes a day of walking can help you to reach your heart-healthy cardio goals and clear your mind.
5. Cozy up to your child, friend, partner, or pet. We don’t always have time or money for a massage, but the simple act of touching another living being can reduce stress. Give your daughter a hug, pet your dog, or spend a few moments on the couch cuddling with your husband.
6. Make a playlist of your favorite dance songs. When you get home from work, put on the music and dance around. If you have kids, turn it into a dance party! You’ll burn some extra calories and get out any lingering stress from your day.
7. Sit down to a cup of caffeine-free tea. Having a daily habit like this can be a great way to take a breather. Give yourself at least ten minutes to sip and enjoy without the pressure of thinking about anything else.
8. Prioritize sleep. Sleep is one of the first things to go when we get busy, but it’s more important to our health than many realize. 8-10 hours of sleep a night is optimal, so if you’re habitually getting less than that, consider aiming for an extra hour of sleep each night. Start by noticing what you do before bed. Are you staying up late watching TV or surfing the internet? Try a technology curfew. Turning off your technology at a pre-determined time can make all the difference when trying to get more sleep.
9. Give yourself at least ten minutes a day (lying in bed at night doesn’t count!) where you do nothing. You can focus on your breath or you can lie on the floor and stare up at the wall. One of my teachers once called it, “time for your aura to get centered.” This is your time when you give yourself permission to let go, because there’s absolutely nothing you need to be doing at that time.
10. I’m leaving number ten blank for you to fill in. Come up with one thing you can do today, perhaps even for just ten minutes, that will relieve stress.
Always remember the oxygen mask metaphor. In order to take care of your loved ones, you must first take care of yourself. You deserve to be a priority in your life.
Iris Higgins, MA, CHt is a gluten-free blogger and the co-author of The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guides. After years of trying every diet imaginable to heal her autoimmune disorder, she experienced profound relief through hypnotherapy. She is now a certified hypnotherapist and works daily with women to help them deal with chronic health problems through alleviating stress. You can find her at www.thedailydietribe.com