Handling Holiday Stress
Healthy Living Blog
Dr. Rachelle Tetreault
Enjoying the holidays should be simple, right? Not necessarily. There are many variables to stress at this time of the year. These can result from family dynamics, food allergies, the loss of loved ones seem more intense, and not to mention the responsibility of keeping up with traditions and menus while keeping everyone content. The holidays, themselves, are harmless and reflect a moment in our lives when we can share with those we love and enjoy all the pleasures that are presented. Somehow, in the midst of all this joy, there still tends to be much chaos and stress. So, what to do?
The first step is to honor the joy and significance that holidays represent to us. This allows each of us to truly respect and cherish the reason for the season we are to be celebrating. Prioritizing what means most at these special times and taking the adequate time to ensure that those choices are kept sacred. This can be as simple as reading the story of Christ’s birth on Christmas Day or instilling simple family traditions that are passed on throughout generations to come. Keeping your schedule free of chaos and planning ahead is essential. Creating new ways to celebrate should be kept simple and thoughtful .
The loss of loved ones at this time are often magnified and can leave a void which lingers. Hanging an ornament or planting a tree in their honor, or simply journaling are ways to channel this loss by giving back or reflecting on the beautiful imprint that was left on your heart by a loss loved one. Embrace those that are still part of your life and find ways to honor those that are not.
Proper sleep and nutrition are still golden standards to manage stress. Even with all the sugar plums and chocolate drops around every corner, it is important to hydrate properly and make good choices. Indulge responsibly and enjoy and savor the season. A nutrient dense diet is needed to keep a strong immune system. Sea vegetables and whole grains consist of many rich minerals which your body may lack. Cultured food with probiotics will help fight infections to avoid illness during this time. To ensure proper essential fatty acids for multiple heart, brain, and joint benefits eat cold-water fish, nuts, and seeds. Beware of major food allergens which are often chocolate, dairy, sugar, and wheat to many people.
Stress has such an impact on our bodies. It can even affect the skin by disregulating hormone levels. This can disrupt both the detoxification process of the body and even affect digestion. Good de-stress techniques are prayer, exercise, dance, gardening, tai chi, and reading. Don’t forget to enjoy both sunlight and nature by connecting daily to the outdoors and include daily stretching. For times of increased stress, it is essential to prioritize what is most important. Taking a high-potency multivitamin, zinc, and B-complex is always helpful during these periods as well.
Stress in Eastern medicine is termed liver qi stagnation. This can result in mental depression, moodiness, irritability, digestive issues, menses irregularities, and much more. Over time, the liver qi stagnation can develop into a more physical form. This is called liver blood stasis. This could result in clots, circulatory issues, pain throughout the body, and much more. Liver fire is also the result of long-term stress or what is deemed long-term liver qi stagnation. Liver fire has the heat component which also reflects in heat signs and symptoms. This can be redness, anger outbursts, dream-disturbed sleep, excessive thirst, even hemoptysis. These are all issues which can be avoided by proper stress management and being properly treated for excessive stress before it manifests to even bigger issues.
During this holiday season, embrace each special moment but also focus on health and well-being. Take time to enjoy your own health and encourage others to do the same. I am always encouraged to make my mother’s traditional fudge cream pies this time of the year. They are amazing, sweet, pudding fudge-like and there’s nothing like them. This beautiful recipe has been passed down generations and I plan to carry on as requested. Just remember, to everything there is balance and then harmony can exist. Enjoy the beautiful seasons ahead by planning and balancing both your nutrition intake along with some simple indulgences.
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