Keep the joy and say goodbye to stress this Christmas!

The pursuit of perfection has to go!  Be real this Christmas.

It’s so easy to get caught up in decorating the tree with the latest colours, baking Pinterest perfect cookies and shopping for hours for the best gifts.

I really do love Christmas but instead of feeling joyful I often feel grumpy and tired.  

Especially if my cookies ended up like those Pinterest fail photos. haha

My daily TO DO LIST gets too long and my stress level gets way too high.

But this year I’m taking back my joy. I’m setting new priorities!

christmas to do list

I’m making spending time with people my priority this Christmas.

TODAY’S little STEP:  Reduce the stress and increase the joy! Let go of the picture perfect Christmas and be real!

If this has encouraged you please share it on Facebook or Pinterest.

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A nutritionst shares – 2 tips for dealing with stress!

Ever wish you could ask a licensed nutritionist some questions free of charge?  Well your wish has come true today!

Charity Elliott my wonderful daughter in law is doing a guest post for us today!  I asked her 2 questions. 

#1.  Which vitamins help our bodies cope with stress?  

#2.  What should we eat to help us cope with stress?

Charity says….”A huge factor to consider when talking about stress, is our perception of stress and how it relates to our mental health.

For some people, spilling their coffee in the morning is a huge source of stress.  For others, they mentally don’t perceive stress unless they are in crisis.

While our perception of stress can be a product of our upbringing, it can also be linked to our mental health and ability to cope with the curve balls life throws us.

For years I was very sick, during those years the smallest things could cause me to feel anxious and stressed out.

Now that I have regained my health, I have a much better grasp on my mental health and am better able to handle the stressors that come into my life.

A huge part of regaining my health was learning what foods and vitamins I needed for optimal mental health.

Regular blood work is an important part of managing your health, you should request blood work at least once a year from your doctor if it hasn’t already been recommended. They should check all your nutrient levels and help you set up a plan for reaching optimal levels.

Before starting a new vitamin/mineral you should consult your doctor or Naturopath. Here are a few of the vitamins/minerals that are important to your mental health.

Vitamin D

Up here in the North we see very little sunlight. From October to April we can go weeks, even months, with cloudy grey days.

Our body needs sunlight to synthesise vitamin D, without it we need to supplement.  

Recommended dose is 1000 IU every day, but your doctor may recommend a higher dose depending on testing. Vitamin D serves many functions that can help decrease anxiety and depression.

Magnesium

Recently, magnesium has been making headlines in the news as a possible supplement for treating depression. Magnesium is needed in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body.

It supports your immune system and your heart health. It also helps regulate bloodsugar and aid in the production of protein and energy. Your magnesium levels can easily be tested with blood work.

B Vitamins

B vitamins are crucial to a healthy body! They have a direct impact on your energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism. The B vitamins help prevent infections and helps support cell health and the development of red bloodcells.

Being deficient in certain B vitamins can be life threatening, low B12 is also known as pernicious anemia and can have life altering side effects if not caught early enough.

Eat Your  Vitamins

Even more important than supplementing, is eating a variety of whole foods that provide your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs.

I recommend at least 50% of your diet be made up of vegetables and fruit.

Vegetables are some of the most nutrient dense foods on earth.  Most people aren’t eating near enough of them.

You also want to make sure that you are intaking enough protein and fat in your daily diet.

Including eggs, red meat, fish, chicken, nuts, seeds and avocado oil are all ways to increase your protein and fat stores. Your brain is made up of mostly fat, hence, it is so important to include it in your diet.”

O.K. friends now we know which vitamin supplements to talk to our doctors about.

Adding more protein and fat may be a bit of a surprise.  I was part of the low fat diet for years and I was always hungry.  Since I have added healthy fat into my daily choices I am satisfied and I feel full for much longer.   The same goes for protein.  When I eat a handful of mixed nuts as a snack I have the energy I need until my next meal.

Charity has a heart for everyone who struggles with health and well-being.   Charity has a cool website to checkout.  She features regular blog posts and recipes.  She also offers individual nutrition services.

 Charity Elliott Nutrition

But she is taking the month of December off as she is expecting her first baby.  Which also happens to be our first Grandbaby!

Today’s little step: Check with your doctor about vitamin supplements.  Eat more veggies, protein and healthy fats!  

How to reduce your stress in just 10 minutes!

Feeling stressed? 

Can you carve out 10 minutes in your demanding day? 

Just 10 minutes of your crazy life that will reduce your stress, increase your metabolism, lower your blood pressure and improve your mood.

Are you surprised that –  “Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries”? Mayo Clinic

That’s good news!

In my quest to reduce my stress I was reminded of just how important exercise is. Exercise needs to be part of my stress management plan and yours too!

If you have any health issues that make movement difficult it is imperative that you visit your Doctor and have a wellness checkup first.

Our bodies were not designed to sit around all day.  Just getting up and moving causes blood to flow, muscles to work and makes us breath deeper.

So before you think we have to spend an hour in the gym to reap the benefits of the stress reducing components of exercise, read this good news!

“Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise  (like walking) has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.” Link

Within 5 minutes of exercise our bodies start to receive the benefit.  Even on our craziest days we can find at least  5 to 10 minutes to move our bodies!

Walking one of our best choices! http://littlestepstohealth.com

Walking is one of our best choices.  It’s easy to do. It can be done outside, inside, alone or with a friend.  All we need is a pair of good walking shoes.

How do our bodies respond to a short walk?

Physical activity causes our brains to produce endorphins.  Endorphins are naturally occurring chemicals in our brains. They can make us feel happy.

That’s why we usually feel “better” after a good walk.

Walking gets us breathing deeper, which triggers the body’s relaxation response.

Walking can help us forget the cares and irritations of day.  Focus on just one task at a time.  Focus on the movements of our bodies.  Focus on taking deep breaths.  Focus on our surroundings.  Enjoy the sights and sounds.  If you walk with a friend you have the added benefit of processing life.  A walk and talk with a good friend helps reduce our stress. “Walking releases tension from the major muscle groups, deepens the breathing and quiets the nervous system.  It also gets us out into nature, which is relaxing.” says Jeff Migdow, M.D., an integrative physician in Lenox,Mass.  Reduce stress

Exercise can also improve your sleep.  Stress often affects our ability to fall asleep or stay asleep.  Improved sleep helps us combat stress.  Things often look ‘better’ after a good nights’ sleep.

Walking outside is my favorite exercise.  It is my best strategy to beat stress and win! I walk with my husband most evenings. When winter comes we walk in a Mall. There’s a small one near by that has only a few stores.  It’s warm and dry and free.

When we don’t walk together I use a walking DVD. I really like Leslie Sansone’s walking DVDs.  I own dozens of them.  There are no crazy dance steps – just walking, side steps, kicks and knee lifts.  She has real women like us walk with her.  Leslie is in her forties and a great encourager.  I can walk in the comfort of my living room.  She has posted quite a few of her walks on YouTube.

Here’s the more advanced one!

If walking is difficult, then try some chair exercises.  I recommend Anne Burnell.  Her programs improve strength, flexibility, energy and coordination.  The exercises are all done in a chair.

Click on this link Anne Burnell. This video is about 8 minutes long.

If the computer is not for you then set a timer for 10 minutes and walk outside or inside.

Say it with me and believe it.  Walking reduces our stress!

Today’s little step:  Walk for 10 minutes everyday.  It will reduce your stress and help you cope better!

3 Tips to deal with stress!

Are you stressed or anxious? 

There are big stressful events in our lives that we have little control over.  But some stress we bring upon ourselves. 

These little stressors of everyday life are under our control. 

I’m on a quest to learn how to identify my stressors, reduce my stress or handle it better.

I don’t think we need to go into all the scary details about how stress and anxiety affect our health.  We know it does.

What we need are the strategies to identify everyday stress,

reduce it and handle it better.

What causes me stress? 

What makes my heart beat a little faster? 

What makes my blood pressure to go up?  What causes butterflies in my stomach? 

A) Procrastination is a big one for me.  I think I have lots of time so I leave tasks to the last minute. 

Then I get stressed because I don’t have enough time to do the task well.  Then I also beat myself up a little because I didn’t get the task done earlier.  If my procrastination affects other people then I feel badly about that too.

This is a stressor I have control over.  I can do something about it.

How will I reduce this stress?

I will schedule time to get tasks done early, by actually blocking off a chunk of time. 

I will set an early deadline.  I think I will also add in some accountability. 

I will tell Don my imposed deadline and that will really help me get tasks done early.  

I will apply this principle to getting ready for Christmas this year.  (I hope to post some short videos on Facebook on how to reduce stress over the Christmas season.) 

B) Unrealistic expectations.  I am a ‘To Do List’ kind of person and I have a tendency to put too many things on my daily list. 

I think of all the home tasks that need to bedone.  I think about the preparation for the ministries I’m involved with. 

I think about all the people I should contact or have coffee with.  I think about the exercise I should do and the books I should read. 

I get stressed, because of my perfectionist tendencies, when I can’t do them all.

How will I reduce this stress? 

My new strategy is to have only 4 things on my list.  Those are the true priorities for the day.  Anything else is a bonus.

I’ve been trying this one for a few weeks and it has helped me a lot.

 My list is doable!

C) Thinking and worrying about the future. 

My Mom’s health is failing.  I’m helping her navigate doctor’s appointments and managing awful side effects from medications.

I’m wondering how she will cope this winter.  I want to fix everything and I can’t. 

How will I handle this stress?

This is a stress that I can’t reduce but I can control how I handle it.

I can’t change my Mom’s health but I can control how I think about it.  I can have control of my thoughts with God’s help.    

When I think about my Mom and start worrying about her future, I hold that thought captive for a few seconds. 

Then I say a quick prayer,

‘Thank you God for how you are already working out the details for my Mom. 

Thank you that You care about her. I will trust You.’ 

Sometimes this prayer gets said over a dozen times a day. 

But when I pray like this it puts God back in control. 

I can leave the problem in His very capable hands. 

Just insert your situation into this prayer if you like.

How about you my friend?

Identify some of those daily stressors-those things that cause your heart to beat faster and your blood pressure to go up.

After you identify them, take a few minutes and decide how you can reduce that stress or handle it differently.

Here’s a core verse to claim for our stress and anxiety. 

“You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon Him, for you are His personal concern’.  1 Peter 5:7Phillips New Testament In Modern English.  

I love how that version says, ‘for you are His personal concern’.

Wow. 

The God of the Universe cares personally about us and our stress and anxiety.

Today’s littlestep: Identify 3 things that cause you stress. Stressors that you have controlover. Then take a little step to reduce that stress or handle it differently.

I would love to hear what your stressors are and your plans to deal with them.   

Pre-holiday stress?

Is stress part of your life?  We think it’s normal to have some daily stress.

Add in the Christmas season and the lists of all the tasks to be done and it’s the perfect recipe for more stress.

For the next 6 weeks I am going to share how I am coping with stress!

A chat with my family doctor revealed that my body is demonstrating some of my recent stress.

I am going to reduce my stress!

I thought it would be a great blog series.  I’ll share what I learn with you!

How  we care for our bodies, minds and spirits really

impacts how we deal with stess.

Here are some of  the topics: foods that combat stress, vitamins, breathing exercises, self care, wise boundaries, healthy self talk, spiritual well-being, and ways to minimize stress during the Christmas season.

I am starting this week with a good list of things I am thankful for!

When I focus on thankfulness I see the good that is always there!

 

Today’s little step:  Take a few minutes and write out 10 things you are thankful for. That’s one quick way to reduce your stress!  See the good that is always there!

Looking for a yummy healthy treat?

How about Apple Nachos?  I got some tech help and that means I have some good pictures!

It looks too good to be healthy!

But it is!

 

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Apple Nachos-littlestepstohealth.com

 

 

Ingredients

1 medium apple

nut butter

maple syrup

Topping suggestions-sunflower seeds, chopped nuts, coconut

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Method

Cut the apple into slices and place in a circle on a medium sized plate.

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Mix 1 tbsp. of nut butter-(I used almond butter) with 2 tbsp. of maple syrup. Stir until well combined and until it has a runny consistency.

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Flick and drip the nut butter mixture over the apple slices.

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Then add your favorite toppings to cover the apple slices. I added sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts and unsweetened shredded coconut.

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I like to finish mine with coconut because it looks so nice on top.

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This is a fun snack or dessert to let people create on their own. You can slice the apples early just put them into a bowl.  Cover them with pineapple juice. The pineapple adds to the taste and is not near as acidic as lemon juice. That will prevent the browning that happens with sliced apples.

Just remember to check for allergies for the pineapple juice and the nuts.

Enjoy!

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Today’s little step: Make some apple nachos for dessert or snack today!

I’d love to hear what toppings you are going to try!

How to beat the Halloween munchie monster!

The scariest part of Halloween is the munchie monster that lives in my house. Me!

I can pop those treat sized chocolate bars into my mouth as easy as can be.

Before I even realize it I’ve eaten 700 calories. That’s the same as eating a double quarter pounder with cheese! WOW!

Not good!

But this Halloween is gonna be different. I’ve got a few tricks I’m going to try.

This post is so good I had to send it out again this year!

I also wanted to send it out a little before Halloween.

We all need to be reminded of a few tricks

to help us handle all the treats.

sweet-314234_1280blog

  1. Buy the candy just before Halloween. If you buy it early it’s too tempting to sample it.

  2. Buy candy you don’t like. We usually buy our favorites.

  3. If you already bought the candy put it out of sight. Or better yet, have someone hide it. Out of sight out of mind!

  4. Eat your regular healthy supper before the trick or treaters arrive.

  5. If candy is too hard to resist, then give out other fun stuff. Like pencils, stickers, erasers, toy spiders and party favors.

  6. Chew some gum while you hand out the candy.

  7. Make a plan to eat only your favorite candy. Decide how many you will eat. Stick to the plan!

  8. If you attend a Halloween party eat the healthiest choice available. Limit the treats.

  9. Mix in some physical activity into the day. Walk with your trick or treaters. If you are home, put on your shoes and walk inside.

  10. Remember it’s just a day. It’s not a license to overindulge. You’ve worked too hard to blow it all on Halloween candy.  

If you are going to eat some treats you need to choose wisely. These favorite little treats are loaded with calories and fat.

  • Reece peanut butter cup – 1 fun size, 88 calories, & 6.5 grams of fat

  • Twizzlers – 1 fun size, 50 calories & 0 grams of fat

  • Peanut M&Ms – 1 fun size, 93 calories & 4.7grams of fat

  • Hersey’s milk chocolate – 1 fun size, 50 calories & 3 grams of fat

  • 3 Musketeers – 1 fun size, 63 calories & 2 grams of fat

  • Tootsie pop – 1 full size, 60 calories & 0 grams of fat

  • Nestle Crunch – 1 fun size, 60 calories & 3 grams of fat

  • Rockets or Smarties for U.S. friends – 1 roll, 25 calories & 0 grams of fat

  • Doritos – 1 fun size, 140 calories & 8 grams of fat

  • Oh Henry – 1 fun size, 70 calories & 4 grams of fat

  • Cheezies – 1 fun size, 90 calories & 6 grams of fat

  • Cookies and cream -1 fun size, 50 calories & 3 grams of fat

Here’s my Halloween plan. I will eat 2 mini chocolate bars & one mini bag of cheezies while I give out the treats. Then I will chew some gum. I will walk inside while I wait. My husband will hide the leftover candy!

TODAY’S little STEP: Make a plan for your Halloween. Plan what you will eat and when. Add some exercise to your day. Decide what to do with the leftovers. Stick to it and you’ll beat the Munchie Monster!

You can do this!  Every little step makes a difference!

If you have found this helpful please share it with your friends.