Politicians, Elephants & Christmas
2021 has been the year of politicians having too much power, not doing enough, going too far or being too silent (all, of course, depending on your point of view); a big elephant
sitting in the room when you visit people or they visit you, with nobody really wanting to ask THAT question....have you or are you getting the 'you know what'; and now it's only 4 weeks until Christmas.
I mean, come on, who EVER would have thought a couple of years ago that we would be living in days like this? It is certainly unprecedented times.
Regardless of where you sit on the above topics, this year has presented people with more stress than they deserve. The uncertainties of the future and serious concerns around choices that influence long-term health are the reality of 2021. Our bodies are equipped to handle stress...we actually need some of it to live our lives. But when it becomes too much, we run into trouble. How much is too much?
There are subtle signs of stress overload...things like changes in sleeping patterns - not sleeping soundly; trouble falling asleep or waking in the middle of the night with an overactive mind and not being able to go back to sleep easily; waking up tired; feeling anxious for no apparent reason; craving sweet carbohydrates; getting angry easily; loss of motivation and wanting to 'escape' from reality.....the list could go on.
I talk to many people around this time of the year who are just plain tired. The stresses they have experienced through the year have a layering effect....a bit like someone putting a blanket on your back day after day. You don't really notice the weight too much, but over time, the blankets become heavy and eventually you will fall down under their weight....and the number of layers that cause someone to fall down is different for everyone.
So, what about you? How are you feeling? Are you coping with the stress of life? Has 2021 been a year you'd rather forget? Has all the news and politics of the day pushed you to the brink of exhaustion? And what about that pesky elephant? Has he turned up at all your family and friends gatherings?
Are you one of the rare few who have managed to get on with your life in the midst of these turbulent times? Have you turned your eyes away from the turmoil and set your sights on the goal in front of you? If this is you, I commend you because it is no easy task to rise above the noise and focus on your own journey.
While we can't control what goes on in the world around us, the one thing we do have control over, is how we choose to respond to circumstances, and how we choose to nourish our bodies.
Responding to challenging circumstances in ways that are positive is actually good for our immune system. When we succumb to fear and anger, we are giving our bodies a signal to produce hormones that will promote inflammation and disrupt the way certain systems in our bodies function. For example, there have been studies that prove that digestion is severely impeded if you eat when you are angry (& who hasn't had some anger rear its head this year!) In Chinese medicine, fear affects the kidneys (part of our body's filtration system that deals with toxins).
Choosing peace over chaos, love over fear, and understanding over anger are all good and positive emotions that feed into our immune system and the healthy functioning of our cells.
And then there's your food choices. When people feel stressed, they tend to reach for foods that are less than optimal. Often, it's the sugary carbs or the greasy takeaways that appeal when life seems out of control. Eating these types of foods only makes things worse in the long run. They promote inflammation, cause weight gain and leave you feeling tired and sluggish. Another undesirable side effect, is that they leave you wanting more of the same, and so the poor habits become reinforced.
Choosing real, whole fresh foods is the best way to nourish your body when you are feeling tired and/or stressed. You need the micronutrients for cellular health and brain function. Flooding your body with good nutrition is the best way of fortifying yourself against the effects of stress and anxiety. Wholesome healthy food is hugely important in these days of disruption and uncertainty. And it is possible to eat healthy food on a budget. Think about foods that have no labels and just one ingredient.....fruit, vegetables, meat, chicken, fish, nuts, seeds, eggs....eating these foods and preparing your meals from scratch is the cheapest and healthiest way of feeding your body.
The last thing I mentioned above was Christmas. Christmas is a wonderful time of the year for lots of reasons....remembering Christ's birth, family get togethers, Christmas music in the shops, holidays, Christmas lights on the tree, and fantastic Christmas food!
It is possible to incorporate lots of healthy whole fresh foods into your Christmas lunch and dinner, and I encourage you to do that. But Christmas is a time of celebration and with that comes delicious treats as well. Why not see if some of your favourite Christmas goodies can be made a tad healthier by changing the ingredients a little. Maybe you can swap out the sugar for maple syrup or coconut sugar, or why not look on the internet to see if there is a healthy recipe for white Christmas, or chocolate truffles, or trifle. Do your best when it comes to your Christmas menu, but don't make it so stressful that you lose sight of the celebrations with your loved ones.
Last of all, I pray you can have some down time over Christmas, even if it's only for a day or two, and I hope you enjoy some time with family and friends and can embrace the spirit of the season.....love, joy and peace.