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NDSU Extension Family
Nutrition Program
By Trisha Jessen, NDSU Extension Educator

Visit or

Nourish Your Health to
Reduce Holiday Stress

Holidays can be a stressful time and many visits to the doctor are related to stress. Furthermore, the six leading causes of death in North America are linked to stress - heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents, and diabetes. Signs of stress can include skin and digestive disorders, high blood pressure, and headaches. Research has associated stress with a weakened immune system and people may try to find relief from drugs, smoking, or alcohol.

Producers of stress can include family and social holiday gatherings, traumatic events, and changes in work or housing. Even though stress is a normal part of everyday life, itís not always bad. The difference can be how we perceive stress, interact with, and manage it. While we canít eliminate or stop all stress, we can manage it.

Good nutrition is one way to manage stress. Foods high in caffeine, sugar, saturated fats, and monosodium glutamate can induce stress. Try to focus on MyPlate and eat more whole foods.

Incorporating physical activity into your daily life is another way to manage stress. Your brain actually changes when you exercise, promoting emotional wellbeing.

Ensuring enough sleep is another healthy habit. Most people need seven to nine hours of sleep each night but are falling short.

Managing your finances is another way to manage stress. Worrying about money can affect our sleep, appetite, and promote addictions and conflicts with loved ones.

Prevention of stress is more effective than management because it is a proactive approach that allows you to change your living habits before you develop serious health problems. Even small changes in your lifestyle may have long term benefits to your longevity and quality of life. Be proactive, start today.

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