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5 tips for managing extra stress (and bloat) this Christmas

By Natalie Burrows, resident nutritionist (and senior marketing manager) at Bright

It’s been a challenging year. A lot of us have now been working at home for 9 months, juggling childcarehome schooling, changing tiers and adapting to a ‘new’ way of life — stress levels have been tested. At Bright, we’ve been getting in the Christmas spirit and counting down to a well-earned break, but we’ve also been reflecting on the impact of this year and how Christmas brings its own, unique level of stress 

We’ve put together 5 simple tips to help you keep your stress levels in check, jeans buckled and energy up until the end of Christmas day. 

Dealing with seasonal stress 

When you’re surrounded by family, the pressure of cooking Christmas dinner, calming overexcited children — and maybe this yearmissing loved ones  — can keep your nervous system in the fightor-flight mode (the state of high alert and stress). Ever felt butterflies when nervous? Our gut is known as our second brain’. The two are intrinsically connected, and stressful events and feelings can leave you bloated or with aupset stomach that affects your mood.   

How to beat it: 

Focus on your breath. The 4-3-7 breathing technique is a simple method that can be performed anywhere and anytime you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. It will help increase your oxygen levels too, preventing you from wanting that post-lunch snooze. Try it now:  

  1. Exhale completely through your mouth 
  2. Inhale through your nose, counting to 4
  3. Hold your breath for the count of 7 
  4. Exhale out your mouth for the count of 8 
  5. Repeat this cycle 3 more times 

Over-indulging with festive grazing 

Who doesn’t love the nibbles on offer during ChristmasTins of chocolate, different flavoured crisps, assorted nuts, and not forgetting cheese and biscuits. It’s easy to graze all day long, but the continual demand on your stomach to digest food constantly leaves it little time to properly digest. Remember that you’re also swallowing air every time you eat — the more we snack, the more air we swallow and the more bloated we become. Add in the increased amount of carbs, crisps and sweets over Christmas and your energy will start crashing early on in the day. 

How to beat it: 

Make sure your meals include a mix of protein, carbohydrates and fats to balance out blood sugars, and moderate your snacking, aiming for 3 hours of digestive rest in between enjoying delicious food. For example: Breakfast at 9am, lunch at 12 or 1pm, snack at 4pm, and dinner at 7 or 8pm. It’s important to eat regularly too, and not ‘save’ yourself for one meal. 

Managing your jubilant drinking 

What’s your favourite festive tipple? Cider, mulled wine or bucks’ fizz (one of our favourites)? Don’t worry, we’re not about to tell you to give it up — enjoy itresponsibly  but there’s a couple of things to bear in mind. Not only can the carbonated drinks like prosecco, champagne, lager and cider lead to a full and fizzy stomach, but alcohol is an irritant for the digestive system that increases chances of bloating and gastric symptoms. Not to forget, the more we drink, the more likely we are to need that afternoon nap.  

How to beat it: 

Check the amount of carbonated, alcoholic drinks you’re having throughout the day and break up the flow of alcohol with a glass or two of water. Which leads me nicely onto the next point… 

Ensuring holiday hydration 

The need to stay hydrated doesn’t go away just because it’s Christmas day. Lack of hydration can leave you feeling foggy, fatigued and forgetful — not very festive feelings. It can also reduce the motility of your gut, leaving you feeling full and uncomfortable. 

 How to beat it: 

Keep the clear fluids up and start your day with a pint or half a litre of water, so you’re on to a winner before breakfast. Alternate other beverages with a glass of water to help get to the recommended 1.5 litres of water a day. You and your body will be grateful you did. 

Encouraging a little merry movement 

Do you get out for a walk on Christmas day, or scrap the usual movement routine for a day on the sofa? As tempting as it is to stay in pyjama’s (we hear you), reduced movement could be responsible for bloating and energy slumps. As we move, we increase blood flow to our muscles and digestive tract and increase oxygen to the brain. Time in nature is proven to be very supportive in reducing stress levels too. 

How to beat it: 

Enjoy the great outdoors on Christmas day, dance around the houseplay a game that involves moving around or simply continue your workout routine like any other day.  

We hope these tips help you and your family stay energised, and stress and bloatfree on Christmas day. After such a tough year, so we’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very merry Christmas and a brighter 2021 from all of us here at Bright.

For more great tips from Natalie on life and marketing, don’t miss our next Agile Marketing Bootcamp, Targeting financial services.

Lydia Kirby5 tips for managing extra stress (and bloat) this Christmas

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