December is here, bringing with it cooler weather, Christmas music, pretty lights, and holiday cheer. As wonderful as all of this may be, for many of us this season can bring with it more stress than peace and joy. We don’t want you to just “get through” the holiday’s- we want you to actually enjoy them! Try our tips to help manage stress and improve sleep this holiday season.
- Acupuncture: trust your acupuncturist to help you reduce stress and relax! Points that help calm the body and mind also help promote restful sleep. Come in weekly or every other week to keep your body happy and healthy during the holiday season!
- Meditation: we love our daily meditations to keep us grounded and stress free. Try stress-relieving guided meditations before bed to put your body and mind in a parasympathetic state (relaxation mode!) such as 21 Days of Calm.
- Exercise: get your sweat on daily- even a quick 10 to 20 minute workout session per day can help relieve stress. Plus, working out balances hormones and improves sleep. Go for an evening walk after dinner or wake up 20 minutes early and do a body weight workout like this one from Popsugar Fitness.
- Healthy Diet: while the holiday season can be tricky to navigate healthy eating, it is important to protect your cells from stress. Increase fruits and vegetables like berries, squash, oranges, and avocado to get plenty of anthocyanins, B vitamins, and vitamin C. For sleep, focus on increasing foods high in tryptophan, an amino acid that the body uses to make melatonin, the hormone that plays a role in regulating sleep. You can also eat more foods that are high in melatonin itself, such as bananas, ginger, radishes, barley, nuts, turkey (organic and free range!), eggs, sunflower seeds, and whole grains.
- Supplements: with a healthy diet and exercise, supplements can further help promote sleep and reduce stress. For sleep, talk to your practitioner about melatonin, valerian root, and magnesium supplements. To address stress during the day, products such as Kalmerite glycerite, Passiflora glycerite, and L-Theanine help to calm without making you sleepy!
- Breathing Techniques: when we are stressed out, our breathing tends to become shallow and quick, leaving our body with less oxygen, which makes us tired and unable to cope with the stressors. Interrupt this cycle with belly breathing: place your hands on your abdomen and take 5 belly breaths whenever you become stressed, with a 7 second inhale, hold for 2 seconds, and 10 second exhale. More of a visual person? Try the Breathing Room on Do As One, where you sync your breath to the image on the screen.
- Get Outside: fresh air can do you a world of good! Research shows that being out in nature (or even just observing from a window!) helps you to recover from stress more quickly. Try to get outside for a 10 minute walk or meditation daily!
- Aroma Therapy: the aroma of essential oils such as lavender helps to calm both the mind and body. Get yourself a diffuser to bring these scents throughout your home. It’s especially helpful to have one in your bedroom to have on while you sleep. Oils to help with stress relief include peppermint, cinnamon, bergamot, cedar wood, rose, and clary sage.
Wishing you a Very Merry Holiday Season!
Written by Dr. Blaire Maliwat, ND, LAc, RDN
Picture courtesy of Canva