All posts tagged: brain

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.

Natalie Burrows5 tips for managing extra stress (and bloat) this Christmas
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Brain food: 5 tips for staying bright

As the most energy-hungry organ in our body, the human brain weighs around 1.5kg but requires 25% of our resting energy expenditure every day – yep, it’s true! Our brain needs fuel to help us juggle and adapt to the new way of life of 2020. But what brain food is best for staying sharp? The temptation to reach for the snack cupboard for a sugar boost before the next meeting (or school task) is one we’ve all felt but it’s not what our brain, or body, truly desires. Check out our top 5 tips on keeping your brain healthy 🧠  and staying bright💡 throughout 2020 and beyond.

1. Oily fish for omega-3

Think salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies (did I go too far with the anchovies?). Whether you find them delicious on their own or need to hide them in a fish pie, oily fish should be a regular weekly staple. Filled with omega-3, an essential fatty acid that supports brain function and cellular health, oily fish is our best source of this nutrient. Vegetarians and vegans can still get a good intake through flaxseed, hemp, chia seeds and soybeans.

2. Green veggies for folate and beta carotene

Brain food

“Eat your greens” is a phrase I say all too often but, aside from it being my favourite colour, green vegetables encompass a multitude of vitamins and minerals to support optimal health and brain function. Specifically, their vitamin K, folate and beta carotene content has been linked to slowing cognitive decline – so pack them into your meals daily!

3. Nuts for vitamin E

Brain food

Another food to have shown promising results in regard to brain health – and heart health – are walnuts. Bursting with omega 3 and 6, antioxidants and vitamin E, the often underappreciated walnut supports inflammation and free-radical damage. It’s a great brain-shaped snack – nature’s way of telling us what it’s beneficial for 😉

 

4. Berries for antioxidants

Brain food

It’s that rich, dark colour that berries have that make them so visually appealing 👀 😋  – they’re flavonoids. Responsible not only for the colour of the fruit but for the nutrients and antioxidants that fight free radicals and support brain function. It’s berry season in the UK now, a perfect time to increase our daily portion.

 

5. Water for hydration 

Hydration is key! Our bodies are 60% water, so it isn’t surprising that dehydration is associated with headaches, fatigue, dizziness, brain fog, forgetfulness and generally feeling a bit naff! Adequate hydration helps regulate our body temperature, supports transportation of nutrients to vital organs, and the removal of waste (yep we’re talking number 1 and number 2). The average person should drink around 1.5-2 litres of water a day, throw in a hot summer’s day and some exercise and you’ll need to add at least a litre to that total!

 Get more tips for staying healthy in this stressful time

We hope our guide to brain food and staying bright has provided some inspiration for your weekly shop – and will help you minimise those all too frequent trips to the fridge for those not-so-healthy snacks whilst working from home!

Check out our other recent blogs including Tips for supporting your immune system and The ultimate working-from-home guide.

Natalie BurrowsBrain food: 5 tips for staying bright
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