The holidays are just around the corner, it’s time to spread cheer! You may have to change some of the typical family traditions to ensure the health and safety of loved ones, but the joy can still remain the same. We also want to provide you with resources to de-stress and relax during the most magical time of the year. Calming activities as simple as focusing on your breath or drinking your favorite beverage (kefir) may help to distract your mind from stress and anxiety.
Focusing on your breath is a great way to tackle anxiety. When you’re experiencing anxiety, your breath becomes strained and tenses the abdominal muscles that support the diaphragm, which prevents deep breathing. Practice deep breathing by inhaling through your nose and elongating your exhale through your mouth. If you find yourself unable to control your breath, find a quiet, comfortable space to sit that’s free of any distractions. Allow your controlled breath to relax your nerves and your body as a whole. Breathing mindfully, or controlled breathing, may help to calm the parasympathetic nervous system.
Controlled breathing has a positive effect on the body by:
- Lowering cortisol levels
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving autonomic (the automatic system in our body that works behind the scene) response to physical and mental stress
- Improving arterial blood flow
Easy Breathwork practice to try at home:
- find a comfortable place to sit
- close your eyes
- place your hands on your gut
- breathe in for 4 counts
- hold for 7 counts
- exhale for 8 counts
- repeat for 1 -3 minutes
Kefir is an ancient healing superfood from the Caucasus Mountains that has provided microbiome support for over 2,000 years. It’s an all-natural, fermented dairy drink that’s high in protein, calcium, and vitamin D. The 12 live and active probiotic cultures in our kefir may help to support a balanced gut microbiome and healthy immune system. 70-80% of the cells that make up the immune system are located in the gut, so nourishing it with probiotics may help to keep it balanced and ready to fight off infection. The gut plays an integral role in protecting you against pathogens and viruses. Just as your skin protects you against foreign invaders on the outside, your gut lining protects you on the inside.
90% of serotonin, a hormone that affects mood, is produced by the cells in the gut. An unbalanced gut can trigger anxiety, depression, and mood swings, which can weaken your immune system. Research has shown that probiotic foods decrease anxiety and boost mood. There are so many ways to enjoy kefir, use it as a dairy substitute in your favorite recipes, pour it over granola and fresh berries, or enjoy it on its own for an on-the-go delicious snack.
With families staying home for work and school, they’re spending more time in the kitchen and have quickly turned to baking as a way to relieve stress. Recent research shows that baking has a positive effect on mental health and wellness. It’s a slow, mindful process that requires the baker’s full attention. It takes physical strength to knead the dough, knowledge to correctly measure the ingredients, and it feels good to feed your family and friends during a time of crisis. Baking is a form of therapy known as behavioral activation. It’s a welcome distraction from the stressful state of the world and gives people a sense of accomplishment. Using kefir in your bread recipes will give your loaf a fluffy texture and 11 grams of protein per serving. Try our recipe for Banana Bread.
Moving your body in nature has a profound effect on your overall health. Exercise of any kind, such as walking, running, yoga, or biking strengthens you physically and mentally. It increases the production of endorphins in your body, improves your mood, and relieves stress and anxiety. Just like baking, exercise serves as a distraction and you feel a sense of accomplishment from finishing a workout. You can exercise any way you’d like. We recommend a low impact walk or yoga session. Schedule a workout routine every week and make sure to stay consistent and realistic with your goals. Find a friend who can be your accountability partner. You can go on walks together and keep each other in check so that you both stick to your plan. When you first start out, make sure to start out slow and gradually increase your fitness. Once you’ve gone for a few half-mile walks, you can start increasing your mileage and stay out for longer. No matter what, exercise needs to be fun because it’s your valuable time. Make sure you choose activities that you love and look forward to every single week!