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As we enter the holiday season, managing stress should be at the very top of our lists. This year has posed many challenges for people as they navigate one of the most stressful times in their lives. Stress can have many physical and psychological side effects, so it’s important to understand how stress can affect you and ways to help manage it.

Stress can present itself in many different ways including:

• Disruptions in your normal sleep patterns
• Headaches
• Muscle tension and pain

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Physical Activity

Fortunately, there are many great ways to help manage stress. A great place to start is with physical activity. Any amount of physical activity in your daily or weekly routine is great. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week to maintain good physical and mental health. Physical activity that increases your heart rate also releases “feel good” chemicals in your brain called Endorphins. Endorphins are known as the body’s “natural pain killers” and help promote restful sleep, making them excellent in combating stress and physical discomforts.

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Nutrition

Another great way to manage stress is through proper nutrition. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important to keep the body’s natural energy levels up. The USDA recommends filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal. This may sound like a lot, but there are easy ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Try a smoothie recipe that calls for a variety of fruits and vegetables. Choose a handful of your favorites and have fun with it!

We hope these tips for managing stress will help you keep your stress levels in check this holiday season. For more workout and recipe ideas, visit the American Heart Association website.