Updated: Jan 13
With the holiday season fast approaching I feel some stress support ideas would be ideal at this time! Here is some information about ways to support your mind and body during the next few months to help you cope with and enjoy the holiday season!
Move your body
In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives most of us are over-scheduled, not sleeping enough and often tied to a desk for most of the day. These stressors can wreak havoc on the body causing a lower immune response, high blood pressure and sleep issues. For many the thought of adding in a complex exercise routine is not an option or seems too overwhelming. Good news! There are short exercises (in the form of yoga) that can be done in your chair or in a small space that can help reduce stress in the form of relaxation, lowering blood pressure and increasing blood circulation!! In this 8 minute video Monica Delius, of Monica D Yoga, will show you some easy and simple exercises and a quick meditation that can be utilized any time of the day to reduce stress.
Get out into nature
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, most Americans spend 90% of their lives indoors. People need time in a natural environment to improve physical, emotional, and mental health. A study by Science Direct found that spending time outdoors can help improve mental health. According to their research, nature excursions can lower blood pressure and reduces stress.
Spending time walking among or simply looking at trees lowers blood pressure and reduces the stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
Improves mood — Researchers have found that nature simply makes us happy. Anxiety, depression and anger are notably decreased after spending time outdoors.
Improves focus — Studies show that both adults and children who have difficulties focusing or controlling impulses are better able to concentrate after being in nature. The natural world allows our brains to take a break from all that mentally drains us, and even reduces symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
If you cannot leave your office, a study found that among office workers, even a view of nature out a window is associated with lower stress and higher job satisfaction!
Stress is the body’s heightened physiological response to stimuli, both good and bad. The adrenal glands secrete stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that are associated with a range of effects on our minds and bodies, including a rapid rise in alertness, heart rate, and/or blood pressure. These hormones act together as a normal emergency response mechanism in response to a temporary stressful situation. However, frequent and sustained release of these hormones can result in a weakened immune response, an over-active and worried mind, and damage to our bodies' tissues and systems.
Adaptogens make up a group of herbs that helps us manage stress as we encounter it. Although this classification is often complicated with difficult-to-define boundaries, there are a few generally recognized qualities that characterize the category. Adaptogenic herbs help restore overall balance and strengthen the functioning of the body as a whole without impacting the balance of any individual organ or bodily system. Adaptogens may help improve focus, support normal immune system functioning, or exercise some other broad-spectrum normalizing influence on unbalanced physiological processes.
Herbs to help with stress
Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) Like ashwagandha, research shows holy basil leaf reduces the stress hormone cortisol while improving attention, reducing anxiety, and easing stress-related symptoms, such as fatigue and insomnia. Holy basil can be beneficial for improving patience and clearing the mind. It’s the perfect adaptogen for multi-tasking individuals and those struggling to find calm amidst the chaos of daily life. Holy basil, or tulsi, is delicious as tea. It is also available in capsules—doses used in studies range from 300 mg per day to 400 mg three times per day. Considered very safe.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) When taken over time, research supports this plant’s ability to ease anxiety, improve sleep quality, and lower stress and cortisol (a biological marker for stress). Ashwagandha is fantastic for relieving nervous tension, and I often recommend it to exhausted people who struggle to turn off their brains at night. Most research conducted used 200–600 mg per day of ashwagandha root extract standardized to 2–5% withanolides (an active compound in the plant). Considered very safe.
Oat Straw (Aveena sativa)
This calming nervine is known for restoring nervous system integrity that nourishes the heart and moderates cholesterol levels. A long infusion (4-8 hours) provides ample protein, all macro and trace minerals in high amounts and very high amounts of B vitamins, except B12. Oat straw is especially useful for those whose anxiety is combined with excessive nervous energy; those prone to insomnia from these conditions. Drink up to 1 quart of infusion a day as long as needed. Considered very safe.
Planning ahead and setting boundaries goes a long way in keeping stress in check. Being mindful of your time, budget and limitations also allows you to make the most of this festive time.
Maintain your routine
When our schedules become too crowded, routines are often the first thing to go. During stressful times, eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep becomes more important than ever. Routines that give you joy or pleasure should also get a top spot on your priority list.
Keep things in perspective
On the whole, the holiday season is short. It helps to maintain a broader context and a longer-term perspective. We can ask ourselves, what’s the worst thing that could happen this holiday? Our greatest fears may not happen and, if they do, we can tap our strengths and the help of others to manage them. There will be time after the holiday season to follow up or do more of things we’ve overlooked or did not have the time to do during the holidays.
It is the quality of the event, not the quantity that can bring joy and sanity to the holiday season. No one person can and should do it all. Be realistic in your expectations and set boundaries as to what you can and will do and when.
Ask for Help
You don’t have to do everything yourself. If you’re feeling overloaded, start delegating. Asking for help is often one of the most empowering things you can do and receiving it can go a long way toward relieving stress.
Acknowledge your stress level
Trying to suppress your stress is like trying to hold a lid on a boiling pot; the pressure just continues to mount. By acknowledging and expressing how you feel, you can transform it.
Looking for ways to connect or reduce stress during the holiday season? Check out Cori Hildebrant of Coriander Living Collective who has an upcoming mini retreat, ecstatic dance event or a group hike to help you relieve tension and lift your mood!
Try one or many of these suggestions to have the best holiday season yet! Should you feel you would like some guided support on ways to support your body during this time, schedule a complimentary consultation today to see how I can support you!