imagesLDUE85EVIt’s a downhill slide into the holiday season once we get past Halloween. Stress is a hallmark of American life, particularly during the holidays.  Did you know that most Americans don’t use their vacation time?  And when we do take vacation, many of us take our devices with us to stay connected at work.  The 24-hour news cycle creates additional stress that we may not even notice.

Stress impacts every area of our life – how we eat, sleep and work. Prolonged stress causes our body to be constantly bombarded with stress hormones, which inhibits the body’s ability to utilize fat. When we are stressed and make unwise food choices –namely salt, fat, sugar, and white flour — the immediate result is that we feel “better”, but in fact, these foods exacerbate the stress response in our body. If stress is causing insomnia, your body’s resilience to illness and injury are impacted and the likelihood that you will overeat increases.  You can see that stress can create a cycle that is difficult to escape.

Managing stress is not impossible. It’s very easy to be active in Colorado year round, which is a simple solution to manage stress. It is important to maintain some level of activity to combat stress, particularly during the holidays when indulgence is the order of the day. Americans tend to be very “all or nothing” in our attitude toward physical activity.  Some activity is always better than no activity for maintaining good health and managing stress.

Meditation is a great way to manage stress all year round. If you’ve never meditated, or had difficulty meditating for a long period of time, try one minute of meditation.  Here’s why it’s great!  1) It’s easy to do because you are only committing to 60 seconds.  2) There is no pressure to increase your meditation time. If you adopt one-minute meditation, the goal is to maintain just 60 seconds of meditation; in fact, it is encouraged that you limit the meditation to 60 seconds.  3) You can take 60 seconds to meditate anytime, anywhere.

Here’s how to get started with your one-minute meditation. First, sit down in a chair with your feet on the floor. Set your phone’s timer to 60 seconds.  Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.  Every time you think about something, say to yourself (not out loud) “Hmm”, like you are pondering a question, and re-focus on your breathing.  Try not to be discouraged if you had trouble staying focused.  This is not a failure, but rather a part of the lesson that meditation teaches. Once the timer goes off, your one minute of meditation is over. You’ll be surprised how quickly a minute passes and how refreshed you will feel.

Plan your stress management strategy now to nip stress in the bud as the holidays grow closer and may help you enjoy the holidays a little more.

Andrea wants to live in a world where the neighborhoods are walkable, bike lanes are plentiful, and the food is fresh, delicious and readily available. A 20-year veteran of the health and wellness industry, she started her career in the fitness industry while earning a master’s degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, and then on to the burgeoning field of worksite wellness. Andrea has competed in collegiate level soccer, worked as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, wellness coach, and master trainer, climbed 14ers, and completed cycling centuries and metric centuries. All of these experiences give her the opportunity to view well-being from many different perspectives. When she’s not helping others to be their healthiest self, you can find her at a farm to table restaurant, down dogging at the yoga studio, or experiencing the Colorado landscape on a bicycle, snowshoes, cross country skis or on foot.