Soothing Seasonal Stress
By Joanne Aponte, ND • December 12, 2016
The holiday season is here, and with all its beauty and joy tends to come stress for many of us. There is the stress of “so much to do” and the stress that comes with busy schedules and the expense of gift giving. Here are some tips to help support you through this busy time of year – any time of year really. I have found that reprioritizing what is important and keeping in mind what the holidays are truly about has helped me keep my stress low. Below are lifestyle tips and herbal remedies for soothing your seasonal stress.
1. Prioritize what is most important to you. Focus on these priorities (1-3 things) and put the rest to the side as much as possible. Try not to be overwhelmed by the commercialism of the season and the pressure to buy gifts if that is not a priority for you. Remember that it is okay to say NO.
For our family the most important thing about this season is being together with the people we love and having fun. We keep our gatherings simple so we don’t burn out on planning and meal preparation and everyone contributes something for the meals. We also exchange names and buy fewer gifts. The kids however, get gifts from everyone (lucky little ones!). This has helped keep our holiday season practically stress free.
2. Continue your self-care. Keep up your exercise routine. If you are feeling physically tired, take a breather from more intense exercise and focus on stretching and relaxation type routines such as yoga, tai chi, walking etc. Let this exercise time be a time to clear and quiet your mind (so turn off the TV and put your phone away!) If you don’t have 1 hour for this, give it 20 minutes instead.
3. Take time to sit quietly even if only for 10-15 minutes. Turn off the TV, computer and phone and DO NOTHING. This is a great time for breathing or mediation.
4. Prioritize sleep. Resist staying up late to clean, cook, wrap presents, shop etc. Aim to be in bed by 10pm and try to get 7-8 hours of sleep. If you don’t have enough time to sleep, then perhaps your “To Do List” is a little too long!
5. Eat a healthy diet. There are lots of gatherings and parties with yummy things to eat. Too much indulgence can cause you to become more fatigued, more stressed and makes you more vulnerable to illness. Choose 1 day per week or 1 festivity per week to indulge at – with moderation of course — the other days say NO and continue your regular healthy diet.
Herbal support during stressful times
Sometimes the stress cannot be avoided even if doing all the “right” things. If this is the case for you then give your body a little extra support.
Adaptogenic herbs are the class of herbs that can be thought of as the “anti-stress” herbs. Herbs in this class help increase vitality, support the immune system, have antioxidant properties and help you cope and adapt to stress. Taking an adaptogenic herbal formula during times of stress provides great support so that you can avoid becoming ill, over-fatigued and “burning-out”. These adaptogenic herbs are gentle acting, effective and can be taken for extended periods of time if needed. The below herbs can be taken as singles or in combination.
Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera).
This traditional Ayurvedic herb is a calming herb and is beneficial if you are fatigued, feeling anxious or having trouble sleeping. It helps restore the body’s vitality and improves the quality of sleep when taken over time. It also provides immune support – so it’s a good choice if you have been getting minor illnesses more frequently. Usually taken as a liquid tincture or capsule.
Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)
A fast-acting adaptogen and can help give you relief quickly. This energizing herb is great for relieving fatigue, both physical and mental. It improves and lifts up the mood, increases mental clarity, and improves sleep. Can be taken as a liquid tincture or capsule.
Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum),
Another herb from the Ayurvedic tradition (also called Tulsi). It is revered as the “elixir of life”. It is a sacred plant in India and is often found planted in homes. Traditionally, the leaves have been chewed daily or prepared as a tea. It is known to nourish the physical and emotional body, improve wellbeing and help people adapt to life’s stresses. This herb is a good choice when you are stressed, having trouble sleeping, having trouble losing weight or getting colds frequently. Holy basil (Tulsi) is wonderful when taken as a tea and can be found in most health food stores. Drink 1 cup of tea per day. Can also be taken as a liquid tincture or in capsule form.
For increased anxiety or nervousness try the Bach Flower remedy “Rescue Remedy”. This flower essence combination is a highly useful remedy for stressful situations and will take the “edge off”, promote a sense of calm and make it easier to fall asleep. It’s easy to take and great for kids as well. Take 4 drops in a little water or directly in the mouth. The small bottle is easy to keep in a pocket or purse so you can take it whenever you need it.
Be well this holiday season and may you experience much joy!
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.