Friday, December 06, 2019

How To Beat Holiday Stress

The holiday's and end of year wrap up can lead to unwanted stress, fatigue and burn out; here are some ways to help you cope during this hectic time of year.

  Let's face it, the holidays can bring on a slew of mixed feelings. At the beginning of the season we are joyful, filled with hope and are cheery as we set up our tree, place the elf on a shelf and turn on our twinkling lights. We set our sights on a delicious Christmas meal where we feel like Martha Stewart and envision ourselves ticking off the holiday gift list like a boss. We see ourselves breezing through all the holiday parties and concerts and for a moment, it looks reminiscent of a Hallmark Christmas movie. Then reality sets in and you're child just told you they need a dress shirt for their Christmas concert that's in 8 hours, the dish you planned on preparing for the office party burned as you were trying to bake and cook at the same time, your in-laws decided to arrive early and next thing you know, you're standing in the shopping centre yelling at some poor sales clerk because the item you wanted was suppose to be on sale and someone just bought the last honey glazed ham. We've all been there, this time of year can feel overwhelming to say the least. However by staying healthy, leaving room for some me time and making a budget, this time of year can once again feel merry and bright. 

Staying Healthy During the Holidays:

  This time of year is filled with temptation and with lack of time, it's easy to fall into unhealthy ways. By using these tips to stay on top of your health, you will feel prepared mentally and physically to take on the holidays.

Feed Your Brain
  Stress starts with our mental well-being; when we don't fuel our brain with the right nutrients and vitamins, we can't stay focused, clear headed or at ease. These three amino acids are a powerhouse at supporting your cognitive health to give you an edge up on staying cool, calm and collected.

L-Theanine: Theanine is able to cross the blood brain barrier, giving it a strong affinity for the brain and central nervous system. Among its psychoactive properties, Theanine has been shown to reduce mental and physical stress, improve cognition and mood, as ell as support insomnia, specifically for those who can fall asleep initially, but have trouble staying asleep throughout the night. Click here to learn more. 

GABA: GABA is a non-essential amino acid because the body make GABA on its own, but during stressful time, GABA production can be lower and being a precursor for Serotonin, you may start to feel the effects of stress more. GABA is a brain chemical that regulates the electrical conduction of the brain. It stops brain cells from overfilling by binding to receptor sites and blocking the activity of stimulating neurochemicals. This leads to relaxation of the mind and body. Click here to learn more. 

5-HTP: 5-HTP is also a precursor to Serotonin and Melatonin. Serotonin is a hormone and neurotransmitter that's responsible for regulating appetite and creates feelings of well-being and happiness. Melatonin is a hormone that regulate our sleep/wake cycles. Optimal levels of melatonin allow our bodies to have restorative sleep to feel rested the next day. 

Fuel for Energy:
  Now that your mind is taken care of, it's important to ensure you're eating the right foods to provide enough energy to tackle your to do list. These tips will help keep you satiated and keep your hanger at bay. 
  • Eat light meals often. This keeps your metabolism active, the energy boost from food and nutrients often keeps you from feeling fatigued and your body won't spend a lot of energy on digesting a large meal. Ever notice after you eat heavy meals you get tired? That's because most of your body's energy is going into digestion rather than keeping you active.
  • Carry power bars with you when shopping. Carrying bars, nuts or energy bites with you will help tide you over until you can eat properly. They will also keep you from grabbing junk food on the go.
  • Eat foods rich in fibre, protein, healthy fats and nutrients. Have green vegetables, brown rice, oatmeal or quinoa, lean proteins and fish as much as possible during this time of year. These foods will help keep your energy up and keep your brain from getting fatigued. 
  • Stay hydrated. It's easy to forget to drink water and rely on caffeine to get you through the day when you're being pulled in a million directions. Ditch the dehydrating coffee for an energy boosting smoothie and keep water with you on the go, you will feel more energetic, get more done and feel happier overall for it. However, if you must really have the coffee, make a deal with yourself to drink 1 litre of water first. 
  • Make time for exercise. Exercising boosts your mental clarity, mood and energy levels. Whether it's hitting the gym, weight room, yoga studio or simply taking a brisk walk outside, elevating your heart rate daily will help your mind stay sane and your body stay strong. 
  By eating well and exercising during the days leading up to the holidays, you will help keep your body in optimal condition to battle any stressful situation that may come your way. 

Take Some Time for Yourself:

  During this time of year, we focus on everything and everyone but ourselves. While this is a season known for giving, if we don't take care of ourselves, we will feel exhausted, resentful, stressed and burnt out. Here are some ways you can take 10-30 minutes everyday to yourself so you can breeze through the holidays stress free.

  • Wake up 10 minutes earlier to enjoy your breakfast, tea or coffee in peace.
  • Practice meditating or deep breathing for 10 minutes each morning or list 3 things for which you are grateful.
  • Take 30 minutes to practice yoga, stretch or go on a brisk walk.
  • Take some time to do something you love; whether it's drawing, reading or watching your favourite holiday film. 
  • Run yourself a warm bath infused with Lavender, bubbles and relax with a face mask and your favourite holiday music.
  • Diffuse this stress busting essential oil blend: 10 drops Sweet Orange oil, 5 drops Cinnamon oil, 6 drops Nutmeg oil, 5 drops Pine oil and sit back and relax. *(if you have pets make sure essential oils are deemed safe to diffuse around them).*
  Taking time to indulge in the things you love or treating yourself to a relaxing 15 minutes will help make a huge difference in what you're able to give. 

Budgeting Time, Money and Energy  

  There are many triggers that cause stress during the holidays. For some it may be time, finances or feeling run down and overwhelmed and for others it may be a mix of any of the three. It's important to know which triggers bring on the most stress and manage them accordingly. Here are some ways to help ease the stress on the situations that make you feel like you're spiralling out of control. 

  • Make a list of all the things that you have to do or that are going on. Order them from most important to least important. Next to each item, write a number on a scale of 1-5 as to how stressed that task makes you feel or the emotion you feel when thinking about attending the event (1 being not excited- 5 being super excited). Cross out anything that brings less than a level 3 excitement and spread out the situations that cause the most stress. 
  • Learn to say NO. It's ok to say no to invites, parties or concerts. You have to remember to not stretch yourself too thin and take care of your well being too. You can say no or you can alternate which parties you attend each year to help split up the time commitments. 
  • Delegate what you can to friends or family and if you don't have time to bake 100 cookies for the bake sale, go to the local store and buy baked goods. Yes they won't be homemade, but at least you'll have your sanity. 
  • Make a list of all the gifts, party favours, cooking and baking supplies; basically everything that you can think of that will cost money. 
  • Make another list of your monthly income and expenses and when you have your disposable income, put aside 15-20% for yourself and savings and then you can see what you realistically have to spend on the holidays without going into debt. 
  • From your disposable income, budget out how much you can afford to spend on each gift and event that you actually want to go to and make adjustments when needed. Or suggest a secret Santa gift exchange for your distant or immediate family to help cut costs during the holidays. 
  • Make a shopping list and if something's on sale, get it for multiple people from different social circles. Remember to stick to your list when you hit the stores. 
  • If you must use credit cards, make sure to set lower limits on it for the holidays so you don't get carried away and end up creating unnecessary debt-stress for yourself in the new year. 
  • Using your list of commitments and to-do list, the tasks that feel more overwhelming or stressful, schedule one of those tasks a day and leave a day in between where you get less stressful things done. This will help you from feeling like you are losing control and diminish feelings of overwhelm. 
  • Schedule in breaks for yourself to sit and breathe, eat, stay hydrated and do something you enjoy. 
  • Ensure you're leaving enough time to get adequate sleep. 
  • Remember to leave the list at home when spending family time and stay in the moment. By making a schedule, you will know everything will be handled so you don't have to stress about things not being done. 
  With these tips and tricks, your holidays are bound to be a little less stressful so you can enjoy this time of year and get into the holiday spirit. Remember what this time of year is really about and spread kindness wherever you go. By taking some stress off yourself, you will feel more revitalized, energetic, healthy and happy. The holidays aren't meant to be perfect, they're meant to create memories with those you love and cherish. From our family to yours, we wish you a merry, stress free, holiday season! 

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