Sugar, phone, the outdoors and your breathing: tips for checking your stress

As we start getting closer to the holiday season, stress levels usually go up - and that's especially going to be true this year. Dr. Maureen Anderson, who's with Integrative Medicine at Beaumont Health, has some tips for reducing stress this time of year. 

Avoiding sugar this time of year can be tough to do around the holidays. But at least limiting your sugar intake is recommended - and not just because of what it does to the waistline. Sugar strikes from head to toe. 

"As it turns out sugar causes inflammation. We know that your inflammatory markers go up when you eat sugar. So when things are inflamed, your brain isn't working; you get anxious, depressed; your muscles get sore and stiff; your joints get inflamed. So it's a big deal," says Dr. Maureen Anderson, who's with Integrative Medicine at Beaumont Health. 

You may have a love-hate relationship with your phone: you love to check it but you hate how it makes you feel. The doctor says put it down. 

"We have research showing that your heart rate, your blood pressure, your cortisol levels go up when you're checking your email. So we have to check our email but limit it. You don't have to check it every two minutes," Dr. Anderson says. 

And while you are unplugged, step outside. Even as we start to deal with colder days the benefit is real. 

"We know being out in nature decreases your cortisol. And so the preference is that you're out in nature but if you can even look at it through the window or have nature inside with plants or things like that, that can be helpful."

And don't forget to breathe. Dr. Anderson says your exhale needs to be longer than your inhale. So even if you don't want to do the counting, being mindful of a slower exhale can help calm your nervous system.