DR. NATASHA TURNER ND'S BLOG

How to Combat Cortisol Levels During The Holiday Craziness

Posted December 1, 2015

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As we all know, the holidays ’tis the season to be stressed! All that rushing around, last minute shopping, late night partying and unhealthy habits takes its toll – especially on your cortisol levels.  Stress doesn’t just pack on the pounds, it also increases your appetite, drops your metabolism, increases cravings, lowers your libido, disrupts your sleeping patterns, and throws your hormones out of balance. Reducing stress and maintaining a positive mental attitude through the holidays are important for both your health and your sanity. The solution to stress is multifaceted but here are my most recommended five healthy habits that you can use throughout the holidays to keep your cortisol under control:

  1. Pop your vitamins. Often during hectic times our healthy habits fall to the wayside. A quick and easy way to give your body the tools it needs to stay healthy during the December rush is to keep your vitamin habit in check. If you are rarely home, try taking them with breakfast and before bed to stay on schedule, or take them to the office – five days per week is better than none. Out of sight is out of mind, so store them in a storage container on the counter or in another location that is easily accessible. It looks better than crowds of loose bottles anyway. Snack-sized plastic bags are also great for carrying supplements when you’re on the run.
  2. Tote around healthy snacks. Instead of nibbling on blood-sugar boosting treats like a muffin or pastry, try some walnuts, pecans, apples, plain yogurt with protein powder or protein bars that have a nutritional balance of 40:30:30 or 40:40:20. Aim to never go longer than three hours without eating. Eating regularly will avoid blood sugar highs and lows that can affect your mood and energy. Missing meals is stressful on your body, causing an increase in cortisol which can actually cause weight gain rather than loss because of the decrease in metabolism associated with caloric restriction. Stress-related weight gain is particularly problematic since it tends to deposit around the abdomen, which is a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. If you have an undeniable craving, have a bit of dark pure chocolate or a chewable vitamin C tablet. Having protein with your snacks and meals will also help decrease your cravings.
  3. Stay Hydrated. Get a 2 litre water bottle to keep on your desk or in the car and aim to drink it by the end of the day. Add drops of chlorophyll to your water—it is cleansing, detoxifying and has a nice, minty taste. Instead of grabbing a coffee in between shopping trips, aim for a cup of green tea. Caffeine causes an undesirable elevation of cortisol. Green tea is one of the only products containing caffeine that is not harmful because it also contains theanine which blocks the effect of cortisol.
  4. Be mindful of your stress. If you start to feel stressed or overwhelmed concentrate only on what is happening to you in your surroundings. Most people take on too much during the holidays and it’s easy to get overwhelmed, so break it down! By getting the task down on paper and out of your head it will help you reduce the stress and plan your day better. Whether it’s Santa’s Shopping List or work-related projects to finish before your Christmas holidays, the ability to cross a task off the list is a great feeling of accomplishment. You can also keep a sweet smelling hand cream or lavender oils in your purse and use this as a reminder to keep you centered and calm when you need to de-stress.
  5. Work in the weights. The best way to release pent up energy from lengthy to-do lists and overcrowded malls is to hit the gym. But be sure to balance cardiovascular exercise with weight training to ensure maintain your metabolic rate. If you are under high levels of stress, try to keep your workouts short so as not to increase your cortisol levels – overdoing it will only create more stress! Instead, a quick 30 minute circuit 2-3 times per week will combine your cardio workout and resistance training all in one shorter session. Circuit training is also the best type of workout for improving insulin response, boosting testosterone and stimulating growth hormone. So you spend less time spent exercising but realize even more benefits. Best of all, the extra effort in the gym will help you reach those resolutions early and help you manage your stress levels. Can’t make it to the gym? Go for a fast paced walk in nature – guaranteed to minimize stress.

3 thoughts on “How to Combat Cortisol Levels During The Holiday Craziness

  1. Hi:
    I have been struggling my entire life with my weight. I have spent thousands of dollars on weight loss programs and I feel very stressed about my weight. My current BMI is 43. I am a Registered Nurse and shift work is just killing me! I have been working as an RN for 36 years. I always join these weight loss programs and lose the weight so quickly ie: 60 lbs in a 4 month period! And maintain for about 6 months and some how it finds me back. I had surgery on my left knee last year from tearing a meniscus . It has slowed me down , and the only exercise I get is working on a busy Labour and Delivery Unit.
    I need a boost to get me going again. I am currently taking Celebrex for my arthritis , and Micardis for high blood pressure , Ativan to sleep, ( the shifts don’t help) and Ciprelex to help me with depression.
    I feel like my body is in constant inflammatory mode.
    Please help , any suggestions?
    I watch you on the Marilyn Dennis Show often.
    Thank you
    Brenda Schell

    1. Hello Brenda,

      Situations such as yours are something that we are very experienced in dealing with, I would suggest booking with one of my Naturopathic doctors to help to tailor the program to your specific needs. Call my clinic and ask for Jackie, she would be happy to help.

    2. Hello Brenda, we would recommend getting on the Basic Detox outlined in the Supercharged Hormone Diet Book. If you follow the nutrition guidelines it is one of the best things you can do to lower inflammation, along with taking the Hormonal Health Detox capsules as well which will detox your liver. There is also the option of booking a consultation with one of my Naturopathic Doctors who would be able to give you some great and super-effective natural alternatives to help with depression, sleep and blood pressure to name a few. You can call my Customer Relations Manager, Jacqueline Ferretti who would be happy to assist you 416.579.9105 🙂

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