by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath
What you may not be thinking about right now is how often you find yourself fatigued, stress out and dealing with weight gain during the holidays. With all the levels of stress the holidays can bring, is this a surprise to most of us?
This is the year you do something proactive so you do not have to run into the same obstacles?
Before we get into what you can do, let’s discuss the underlying challenges with the holiday season for most of us and the impact this has on your health.
Here is a quick and easy list of challenges during the holidays with this typically starting just before Thanksgiving and extending through the New Year celebration. With Christmas just a few days away, we are hitting the peak of this season.
- We often get much less sleep
- Too much alcohol
- Simply too much food
- Poor food choices
- Stress of being overwhelmed
- Financial stress of gift purchases
- Feelings of loneliness and leading to depressed feelings
- Having to “hang out” with relatives who’s company you may not enjoy
- Holiday travel
- And the list goes on
Based on this list you see one common denominator which is stress. You have mental and emotional stress here, physical stress, inflammatory stress all of which are underlying triggers for adrenal stress.
And do you know what happens when you consistently stress your adrenals?
- Poor sleep
- Weight gain, especially around the mid section
- Poor focus and low mental clarity
- Bloating due to poor digestion
- Suspect to colds and flu
- Energy crashes
Now you can see the holiday challenges and what they lead to, doesn’t it make sense to take some action steps to eliminate or at least reduce the symptoms above?
I hope so!
Here are some tips for each of the challenges listed earlier in this article.
We often get much less sleep
Two suggestions here. Number one is to make it a point to show up at the holiday parties as they begin. This alone will typically keep you from staying out too late. You usually get the best food choices early in the party also. Yummy, right?!
The other suggestion is to simply make a healthy time frame boundary for your exit from the party. Once you have your time frame, set you smart phone or watch to go off and hit snooze until you leave. You’re the only one that can chose to head home for a good nights sleep, but these tips should help you.
Too much alcohol
A great tip here is to always drink at least 16 ounces of water between each alcoholic beverage you consume. This will help with the dehydration of alcohol consumption and also lessen the amount you consume.
Another great tip is to make sure you only drink alcohol after you get some food in your stomach. If not, the alcohol will quickly absorb via the stomach lining and have a fast track to your brain. Not good for many reasons that I am sure you already understand. We have all seen what we are capable of when we get too much alcohol to the brain.
One last tip is to make sure you take an antioxidant after drinking. A simple and easy solution is to take about 2000mgs of vitamin C after drinking. This will help with the oxidative and free radical damage that alcohol will cause.
Simply too much food
Some simply tips here. Number one is to not go to your holiday parties staving as this is an over consumption disaster.
Another great tip is to only fill one plate with your appetizers. We often take a small plate and fill is several times without recognizing that we ate enough food for 3 meals. If this is a sit down dinner just fill your plate once and skip the seconds. After all, you’re going to be provided a container with left overs to bring home anyway.
If you have enzymes in your cabinet this would also help immensely to assist with digestion and the potential of bloating. Take this at the onset of your food consumption and if you are eating with some regularity throughout the evening, because you ignored the previous tip, be sure to take another enzyme later in the evening. If you also have a probiotic at home, take about 40 billion beneficial bacteria before you leave for your holiday gathering. This will support your digestive system and also your immune system.
Poor food choices
Most of us, myself included, will make some less than optimal food choices through the holiday season, but the key is to go for the healthy food first. I tend to look for some veggies, guacamole and shrimp first, so I can get my 3 macronutrients in, which is my protein, carb (veggies) and fat. If I eat this first and keep up my water consumption there is not as much room for the bad stuff.
Also sometimes it’s not your choices that are bad, but the food itself. It is not unusual to be exposed to detrimental bacteria during your holiday gathering. You would likely think of this as food poisoning. If you get bloated, diarrhea and maybe even vomit, this is most likely the bacteria mentioned above. If this occurs for you jump on it right away. Take 100 billion count of beneficial bacteria as your probiotic after you recognize the symptoms and another 100 billion before bedtime. This high amount of good bacteria can potentially knock out the bad bacteria for you.
Stress of being over whelmed
Take a quick break and enjoy 3 – 5 deep belly breaths when you feel overwhelmed. This will help to reset your nervous system and your thought process in that moment. Understand that you cannot take a deep belly breath and be stressed out at the same time. To help you throughout the entire holiday season, get in a habit of taking 3 – 5 deep belly breaths once per hour though the day. This not only helps calm your stress but also increases oxygenation of your cells.
Financial stress of gift purchases
At this point I hope you have most of your holiday shopping done but often we start grabbing those last little gifts and add ons. Make sure you stay aware of your holiday shopping budget, you’ll be amazed at how quickly the cost of all those “little” gifts add up.
Feelings of loneliness and leading to depressed feelings
If you find yourself dropping into depression during the holidays because you are alone, get out there and volunteer. There are plenty of avenues to donate your time to help others and I would bet that the joy you feel of helping others in need during this season will sweep away those feelings of depression.
Reach out to friends and co-workers if you do not have family to enjoy. Most people are willing to open their doors during the holidays, but you may have to ask. Most will not assume that you are going to be alone.
Lastly you can just get out in the community. Go to the movies, go out for a fun meal or do something completely different; last your my wife and I played 9 holes of golf on Christmas day. She almost beat me also. LOL!
Having to “hang out” with relatives who’s company you may not enjoy
The highest level of advice I can provide here is to be the most loving and compassionate person you can be, expecting nothing in return. Often we go into these situations with our best foot forward but our downfall is expectations. When you don’t get back what you give you find yourself angry and resentful. In the end, this does what? Ruins your time. Don’t let others take away your ability to have a good time. Remember, be the most loving and compassionate person you can be, no matter what.
If you follow this tip, you’ll most likely find that your ability to maintain love and compassion will have a positive effect on those around you. And if somebody else wants to be cranky and ruin their own fun, let that be OK.
I am going to assume this involves a airplane flight. First make sure you stay hydrated, this is the number one challenge with flying for most. Drink at least 20 ounces of water before your flight and sip on water throughout your entire flight. This will also have you up visiting the bathroom a few times, with the movement providing a benefit also.
This is another time that is good to add a simple anti0xidant such as vitamin C. Take 2000mgs of vitamin C before you flight and another 2000mgs post flight.
Doesn’t it make sense to be proactive for the holiday season, so you do not have to suffer with the regular fatigue, stress, weight gain and more that you have dealt with in the past. Follow the Holiday Survival Tips and move through the holidays in the healthiest level possible!