5 Ways to Survive Holiday Stress

Author Annabelle Blythe

The holidays are a beautiful time to reconnect with your loved ones and your community.  It’s a time to come together and spread joy.  Yet the holiday season isn’t always all joyful.  For some of us, the influx of family into our lives can be stressful, or perhaps being at large social gatherings make us anxious, even cooking a large meal can be overwhelming for a lot of people.  Stress is a part of life, but an overload definitely isn’t our friend.  Stress can wreak havoc on your digestive system, weaken your immune system and increase your weight.  Not exactly things we want to add during the holidays.  Start with the tips below to prepare your body for a healthy season. 

1. Eat the Food: Yes, I am encouraging you to indulge.  Enjoy the food you eat with and prepare for loved ones and drop the guilt.  Food connects us and brings us together.  The science of stress can show us that how we feel about what we are eating is as important as what we are eating!  Eat the decadent meals and delicious desserts when the people you love come together.  To set your body up for success, cook up a big batch of veggie soup to have throughout the week.  Vegetable soups are incredibly easy to make and you can freeze a large batch in the freezer to defrost for lunches throughout the week, especially on days when you know you’ll be having a larger meal later on.  There are endless delicious recipes online and you will feel anything but deprived!  Two recipes I enjoy: French inspired green soup and the super easy, adaptable Detox Veggie Soup.

2. Supplement Your Diet: If you are already taking supplements, be sure to bring them with you if you’re travelling this season and to keep up this part of your routine.  Two great supplements to add in or increase during the holidays are probiotics and magnesium.  Probiotics will keep your whole system happy - easing your digestion, reducing sugar cravings and balancing your mood.  Find a high quality probiotic in the refrigerated section of your local health food store (I like this one) or up your intake of probiotic foods like sauerkraut and kimchi by having a spoonful before meals.  Magnesium is the natural chill pill - it reduces anxiety, relaxes tense muscles, keeps your bowels moving and when taken at night can help you have more restful sleeps.  You can take magnesium in many different forms - pills, liquids and powders.  I like Natural Calm’s Magnesium Powders because drinking the mix with warm water is soothing before bed like drinking tea.

3. Drink Up: Personally, I find it more difficult to stay hydrated during winter when it’s cold outside.  It’s important to note that the dry winter air can be just as dehydrating as the summer heat!  Be sure to drink enough water throughout your day, aiming for 2-3 litres.  The best judge is if you’re peeing clear multiple times a day.  If you’re attending holiday parties where alcohol will be a main focus, alternate cocktails with sparkling water with a dash of bitters.  This will keep you hydrated and the bitters are actually helpful with digestion!  I also find it’s easier to drink water at a party if it looks like a cocktail, as drinking can often be a social thing, and some people may feel awkward walking around empty handed or with a water bottle.  So drink up, the healthy way! 

4. Take a Hike: Aim to go for a walk every day - yes, even if it’s cold!  This is a wonderful meditative thing to do every day, even 15 minutes makes a difference, however it’s especially beneficial during the holiday season.  You will keep your body moving aiding in digestion of those delicious, but sometimes heavy, holiday meals.  If you’re lucky enough to catch a peek of the sun, you can absorb the benefits of nature’s vitamin - vitamin D, boosting your mood and lowering stress.  And on busy family days, it is crucial to take time for yourself, particularly if you are more on an introvert or find it overwhelming to be around family members 24/7.

5. Love Yourself: Remember during the stress of the season to practice self care and self love.  You are on your own team, so be kind to yourself and take care of your body.  Remember that eating a few indulgent meals (and maybe more than a few desserts) won’t ruin your health, and that taking care of yourself is crucial in order for you to be present and take care of the ones you love around you. 

Take care of yourself, and have a happy, healthy holiday season!