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Another Revealing Health Tip.. Approaches To Managing Stress Before The Holidays

Published on
December 22, 2023

Emily Navas

A Few Tips On Managing Stress Before The Holidays

Do you already need to reset and refresh before the holidays?  Some of us are already spent this time of year as we manage work demands, family, possible travel arrangements, future visiting family/ friends, and the approach of the holiday to-do’s.  The holidays are supposed to be full of cheer, family, friends, good food, and good feelings but that’s not usually the case when we feel overloaded and stressed.  We may even get so rundown that we succumb to the seasonal cold and flu from an overload of stress.

Stress can affect a multitude of biological systems, from your central nervous system,  cardiovascular system to your digestive system showing up as headaches, trouble sleeping, indigestion and irregularity.  I can’t stress enough how crucial managing your stress is before the holidays is for your health.   Integrating functional medicine and holistic medicine approaches like Acupuncture can provide a well-rounded strategy for stress management.

Here are a few essential tips to consider in the coming days:

As best as possible prioritize your nutrition with eating whole foods rich in nutrients. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats to support your body’s stress response. Complex Carbohydrates foods like sweet potatoes, quinoa, and oats can help increase serotonin levels, promoting a sense of calmness and aiding better sleep. Fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, mackerel, and sardines can help reduce stress by supporting brain health. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and swiss chard are high in magnesium, which can help regulate cortisol levels, reducing stress. Some supplements like adaptogens (such as L-theanine, ashwagandha or rhodiola) or magnesium, which can also help manage stress and  generate alpha brain waves for a state of relaxation and a more healthy stress response . When your bouncing around to different parties, your ability to maintain hormonal homeostasis and mental-emotional stress for a balanced mood, energy and cognition takes a toll and you are producing higher levels of cortisol so, bringing the body back into balance at this time can look like ups and downs in mood and energy levels.  Let’s not forget the added alcohol  we may consume to the mix and our body’s ability to cope with the normal stress of the next day you find yourself bottomed out.

 

Gut Health: Support your gut with probiotics and fermented foods. Gut health is linked to mood regulation, so a healthy gut can positively impact stress levels. Ninety percent of your immune system lies in your gut and probiotic support is helpful to supporting an appropriate immune response. Probiotic supplements add to your existing supply of friendly microbes so they help fight off the less friendly types and boost your immunity against infections. Psychological and physical stress has been shown to disrupt the mucosal barrier which protects the delicate tissues of the stomach and lining of your gut so, deglycyrrhizinated licorice was shown in 1980’s animal studies to support stomach mucosal lining. It has since then become a regular ingredient to soothe and relieve occasional stomach discomfort.

 

Sleep Quality: Prioritize quality sleep by maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine. Consider herbal teas or relaxation techniques to improve sleep quality. For instance, chamomile tea is known for its calming effects or Holy Basil (Tulsi tea) for lowering stress hormones. Valerian Root is known for its sedative effects, and is often used to improve sleep quality. It can be consumed as a tea or in supplement form as well as lavender for calming properties which is often used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation. Consider using lavender essential oil in a diffuser or adding dried lavender to your pillows. Additionally, passionflower as well is used to alleviate anxiety and promote sleep, and is available in teas or supplements. Lastly almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are rich in magnesium and tryptophan, promoting relaxation and better sleep.

 

Mindful meditation and exercise and movement all calm the mind and get you breathing to significantly reduce stress levels.  Releasing endorphins and reducing stress promotes a sense of well being.  Getting out in nature or taking a 15 minute brisk walk in your neighborhood or any aerobic exercise reduces adrenaline and cortisol production, so a brisk walk around the neighborhood once a day could help support a patient’s mental well-being from now until the New Year. I also suggest yoga or gentle stretches and dancing of course!

 

Acupuncture: Explore the results of Acupuncture to relieve physical tension and promote relaxation, aligning with both functional and a holistic approaches to stress relief. Acupuncture has a whole range of positive effects on your hormones from dopamine, serotonin, cortisol, epinephrine and more.  It directly stimulates endorphins and lowers cortisol and can stimulate the HPTA axis to release endorphins that bind to the opioid receptors on the surface of Natural Killer cells and stimulate NK cells  which in turn support your immune system and nervous system. My patients always relate to me that they walk out of a treatment in that happy dreamy state after acupuncture, so who could not ask for more when you are trying to alleviate stress.  

 

Remember, the effectiveness of all these tips can vary for each person. I always encourage you to experiment and find what works best for you and the advice of your consulting healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your lifestyle or incorporating new supplements.