For some, the holiday season is a time for celebration and sharing time-honored traditions with family and friends. Shopping, cooking, parties, more shopping and let’s not forget our out of town guests.
It’s also a season that many of us experience higher levels of fatigue, stress and anxiety often linked to a weakened immune system and sickness.
Studies indicate that Americans tend to get less sleep, consume more calories, and suffer from more stress-related syndromes during the holidays.Chronic stress is implicated in many well-respected studies linking it to cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, anxiety, sleeping disorders and can influence Cancer and upper respiratory disorders.
Spme experts suggest the first step in dealing with holiday stress it to identify and write down your primary “stressors”. Make a list, check it twice and decide how you can plan a defense strategy against the health damages linked to stress.
List Your Stressors – Make a Plan – Take Control!
List your top “stressors” along with proactive stress busters.
- “I hate holiday crowds and parking at the mall!”
Solution: Order gifts online and pay the extra dollars to have it shipped quickly. If you have to shop, and hate the traffic or parking, ask a friend or call an Uber driver/taxi to take you to the mall.
- “Family members stress me out!”
Solution: Dig deep and find something about that “stressful family member” that you can compliment them about. You will feel great and so will they! Then do your best to avoid them the rest of the day 🙂
Schedule Exercise! Who’s got time to exercise?
Studies show that high intensity muscle resistance, as little as 10 minutes once or twice a day can lower blood pressure, increase lean muscle, boost metabolism and help release endorphins (natural anti-depressants).
Sit on an exercise bike, warm up for 3 minutes, then increase the resistance to high and peddle your buns off for 2 minutes, rinse and repeat if you have time.
Limit you sugar consumption and boost Vitamin D!
The over indulgence of rich foods, desserts, and alcohol will elevate your blood sugar, pack on the holiday pounds and can affect your mood and energy level. Eating smaller meals and snacks consisting of protein (60%), complex carbohydrates (20%) and healthy fat (20%), every few hours has a positive effect on blood sugar and hormones.
* Take 4000 units daily, of an organic emulsified Vitamin D supplement to help boost the immune system. Research continues to support the immunological benefits of Vitamin D. (www.VitaminDCouncil.org)
* Don’t attend holiday parties on an empty stomach! If you plan to have alcohol, eat a small protein snack before you drink. Plan your limit and drink 8-ounces of water before and between drinks.
Keep it Simple Silly (KISS Principle)
If you are already feeling the dread of the holidays, avoid the overwhelming schedule of doing too much, and consider the benefits of simplifying your holiday season. Don’t take on added responsibilities and over commit to events that may interfere with your routine schedule – as this is a common source of stress. Work with a friend or a coach that can help provide outside prospective!
If exchanging gifts is a big tradition for your family and yet a potential source of stress, downsize this year, limit the number of gifts and keep the focus on quality, not quantity.
Don’t Sweat The Little Things…
From time to time we all make the mistake of taking the important things for granted and allow “the little things” to become a distracting source of stress.
Take a few minutes each morning to plan your day and think about those things that make your life great, take time to express gratitude, and as someone wise once said, “Don’t sweat the little things, as they are all little things.”
Battling the Holiday Blues
For those already experiencing anxiety and depression, the holiday season may often be a trigger that could worsen these symptoms particularly if you consume more alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant and can lower Serotonin and GABA levels (Brain Neurotransmitters) and increase your depressive state.
Limit your alcohol levels, increase B-vitamins and consider natural type of antidepressants as prescribed by an experienced practitioner such as a Naturopathic physician, Clinical Nutritionist or holistic Medical practitioner.
- Consume daily B vitamin supplements, especially B6, which supports the production of both GABA and serotonin. Some researchers also think that low levels of vitamin B12 are associated with anxiety.
- Research shows that L-theanine helps curb a rising heart rate and blood pressure, and human studies have found that it reduces anxiety. Theanine also seems to increase levels of GABA receptors in our brain that also have significant calming effects.
If stress is impacting your health, schedule a consultation with a qualified health care provider and discuss personalized nutritional programs and quality supplementation to support your metabolism and boost your immune system.
I would like to wish you and your family a safe and healthy holiday season!
Dr. Robert Xanthos is Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist and Director of The Wellness Center at Spine In Motion, 5112 N. 40th Street, Suite 101, (602) 264-4040. For more information about Nutritional Consulting services visit www.spineinmotion.net.