I love this time of year--Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, the New Year. What a great time to celebrate. But let's face it, although the holidays can bring great joy, they can also bring some stress. The long lines and empty pockets. The back-to-back social calendar. The in-laws. The homemade pies, apps and egg nog. The holidays are meant to be a time to enjoy family and friends, rather than be stressed about the little things. Here are some ways to make your holidays more joyful and less stressful this year.
Eat for energy. Snacking on sugary treats is common during the holidays. While you don't want to miss out on the pumpkin pie, you can avoid unhealthy eating habits by planning ahead. Eat a light, balanced snack before you head to your holiday party. For example, if you have an apple, add almond butter. If you have crackers, add hummus or avocado. Whatever you do, it's important to avoid eating carbs alone because they can spike your blood sugar and lead to feeling more hungry and tired later.
Stay active. Go for a 20 minute walk outside. The cool air will awaken your senses and is a great antidote for stress. Spending time outdoors will also help your obtain adequate levels of vitamin D, which is known to help lower blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels and promote a healthy immune system. Although you can get your vitamin D with a supplement, the sun stimulates the production of feel-good serotonin and can help releive symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Up your key nutrients. For supplements, try B12 for extra energy in the morning and magnesium before bed to help unwind from a long day. Don't forget about your Omega-3s which can help reduce inflammation after a late night out; the best sources are cold water fish like salmon and trout, walnuts, flaxseed and olive oil. Or, if tea is your bag, a cup of chamomile or yerba mate can do wonders for the senses and stress.
Drink extra water. Though this sounds simple enough, many people underestimate the power of hydration. Dehydration actually serves to increase our stress levels and appetite. Try to alternate a glass of water between cocktails at your holiday party. if you're not a water fan, try making your own flavored water. Some refreshing combinations are rosemary+orange, ginger+lemon or cucumber+mint.
Take some time for yourself. Santa shouldn't be the only one making a list and checking it twice. When you feel the stress coming on, refer to a list of your favorite stress-busting activities. It's important to take time for things you enjoy, like going to a movie, taking a nap, yoga, going to the gym. Whatever it may be, don't forget to put yourself first.
Contributed by Laura Lemon
Student at Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition, Nutrion Consultant Program
Bauman, E., Friedlander, J. (2013). Therapeutic Nutrition. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College.