Feeling Tired and Stressed out This Season? Look to Five Healthy Habits
SIOUX FALLS (Dec. 1, 2013) – The beautiful decorations… the well-chosen gifts… the treasured traditions… the delectable meals… the unforgettable parties. It’s holiday time! But what if you’re too exhausted to really enjoy it all?
Fatigue is a common plague of the season, especially for women, said Dr. Jean Lageson, internal medicine specialist with Avera Medical Group Internal Medicine Sioux Falls. Reasons behind seasonal fatigue are many. You might be burning the midnight oil in order to get everything done. You may be eating less fresh produce and more “comfort foods” that are higher in fats and carbs. You might be exercising less, which, rather than saving your energy, actually makes you feel more tired and stressed.
And then there’s the all preparation for events and traditions. “Women often feel a lot of responsibility – like it’s up to them to make the holidays happy for everyone,” Dr. Lageson said. “It all comes at a cost. A lot of times, we do more than what’s necessary, expected or even appreciated,” Dr. Lageson said.
Battling seasonal fatigue often comes down to general good health. Yet only about 0.4 percent of Americans observe all five of these “healthy habits”:
- No tobacco use
- Use alcohol only in moderation (no more than one drink daily for women, two drinks daily for men)
- Body mass index (height and weight ratio) below 25
- At least five half-cup servings of fruits and vegetables daily
- 45 minutes of physical activity at least five days per week
If you smoke, look into quitting solutions, and consider your drinking habits, Dr. Lageson advised. “We’re seeing more and more alcohol issues with women. They use it to treat anxiety, stress or insomnia. In moderation, social drinking can be one of life’s pressures, but when you cross the line, it gets in the way of relationships, and your ability to be alert and effective.”
Both exercise and a healthy diet will help you achieve a healthy BMI. “The older we get, the fewer calories we need,” Dr. Lageson said. “Eat less of high-quality foods, and move more.”
Watch portion size, and avoid seconds. “The first few bites are the most satisfying, so eat slowly and savor your food,” Dr. Lageson advised. “Desserts are treats, not a daily event. Choose something to have once a week and really look forward to it.”
Foods high in carbs and sugar deliver a short burst of energy which soon drops off. “Using sugar and caffeine to boost your energy is a slippery slope,” Dr. Lageson said.
The recommended 45 minutes of daily exercise can happen throughout the day – walking to and from your car, walking on the job, shopping or doing chores at home. If in doubt, wear a pedometer. If you’re putting in 10,000 steps or more a day, you’re getting enough. Get creative in order to stay interested in exercise. Take a Zumba class or try water aerobics.
“Even if you don’t feel like it, just put on your shoes and do it. Most people, once they start an exercise program, enjoy it,” Dr. Lageson said. Exercise can help resolve other issues. “It’s a fantastic stress reliever, and is linked to improved sleep.”
Observing these five healthy habits will not only help you successfully get through the holidays. “These habits have repeatedly been shown to correlate with a long and healthy life,” Dr. Lageson said.