A Guide to Managing Holiday Stress & Anxiety
The most wonderful time of the year is officially here. I absolutely love the holiday season. I enjoy the parties, getting together with family and friends, shopping for gifts, and creating memories with my husband, Xavier, and our daughter, Elle. While there is so much to enjoy, such as festive music, beautiful decorations, and family gatherings, managing holiday stress can be difficult for all of us, including me.
The holiday season presents many demands on us all from cooking meals, to entertaining guests, to shopping. If you’re trying to stay healthy and follow a strict diet, it can even add more stress trying to navigate parties full of sugary treats and alcohol.
Managing holiday stress and anxiety is so critical during this time of year, yet difficult for many of us. Don’t worry, I’m about to give you my true and tried tips for managing holiday stress and anxiety so that you can enjoy the holiday season.
7 Tips to Manage Holiday Stress
If you already struggle with stress, the stress from the holidays can pile on. Relentless stress can contribute to leaky gut, adrenal fatigue, insomnia, heart disease, anxiety, and a plethora of autoimmune conditions. Here are 7 ways you can manage your holiday stress so you can enjoy this joyful time without added holiday anxiety.
1. Commit to Your Health
If you’ve spent the year taking back your health by changing your lifestyle and diet, you don’t want to derail all the progress you’ve made. I know firsthand how much hard work and dedication it takes to stay committed to your health goals.
With the holiday season comes a lot of temptations with delicious sweet treats and cocktails at all the holiday parties and in your office. Staying committed to your health can be challenging with all these temptations and holiday anxiety. One of the best ways to manage holiday stress and anxiety is staying committed to your health and being prepared to avoid temptation.
It’s not the end of the world if you indulge in that occasional holiday cookie or cocktail. However, repeated indulgences can derail the progress you have made. One way to stay committed is to make a healthy dish to take with you to the holiday party. Try these healthy holiday treats that are AIP and Paleo diet friendly.
2. Limit Sugar, Starch and Alcohol
It’s a safe bet that sugary treats, starchy foods, and alcohol will be everywhere during the holiday season. Those holiday cookies, dinners, and drinks are full of sugar and starches.
We are consuming far greater quantities of sugar than we were ever designed to handle, already. In the course of a normal day, your body simply doesn’t need all those quick, intense bursts of energy that sugar provides because, unlike our ancestors, we aren’t running away from animals trying to eat us.
As I said, it’s ok to have the occasional sweet treat or drink. At this time of year, moderation is essential when it comes to sugar and alcohol. Even if you’ve completed a 30-day elimination diet and don’t have a sensitivity to sugar, alcohol, and starches, these foods are still toxic and can lead to autoimmune disease, insulin resistance, heart disease, as well as Candida overgrowth and SIBO — which are fed by high-carb foods such as sugar, starches, and alcohol.
If you’re prone to these Candida overgrowth or SIBO, I recommend Candifense® and Caprylic Acid. The enzymes in Candifense® create an inhospitable environment for yeast overgrowth in the gut. It is a safe, effective and gentle approach to maintaining a healthy balance of microflora throughout the digestive tract, especially when holiday anxiety can disrupt the microorganisms that live in your gut.1
I also recommend that instead of Candida-feeding alcoholic drinks, make “mocktails” such as this Cucumber “Cocktail” with Ginger, Lemon and Fresh Mint Leaves. It will allow you to stay healthy but still feel like you’re part of the fun!
3. Be Prepared
I said earlier that holiday parties, traveling, shopping, and events can lead to a lot of holiday anxiety and stress. One of the best ways to manage holiday stress is to be prepared. If you’re traveling, prepare plenty of healthy snacks so you won’t have to settle for food that could derail your progress.
Preparing snacks isn’t exclusive to traveling. One way I like to manage holiday stress is to prepare to-go snacks if you’re spending the day shopping or taking your little ones to see Santa Claus. My go-to snacks for on-the-go include Coconut-Chocolate Energy Bites and Gluten-Free Garlic Rosemary Crackers.
Your holiday anxiety can increase with the idea of going to a party or out to eat. You may be tempted to avoid those social situations because of the fear of there being foods you are sensitive to or not having enough healthy options. Don’t worry! I’m here to tell you that you can eat a range of different kinds of food and still live healthy!
If you’re going to a party, ask the host what foods will be served and offer to bring something such as this AIP Blueberry Crisp. If it’s a potluck, make a healthy dish such as this AIP Charcuterie Board with Tzatziki Dip. Being prepared is a great way to help manage holiday stress.
4. Set Aside Time for You
The holidays are a great time to reconnect with family and friends. However, it’s also important to make time for yourself to help manage holiday stress. I know that can be hard with so much demand on your time. However, even something simple as taking a bath or meditating for 30 minutes can help reduce stress.
I strongly encourage you to set aside time out of every day to do something that helps you unwind. Some of my favorite activities to help manage holiday stress include:
- Taking a hot bath with epsom salts.
- Meditating and breathing exercises help calm my holiday anxiety and manage holiday stress. I use the app HeartMath.
- Listening to music
- Spend 30 minutes a day in my Sunlighten Sauna
- Reading a book
There are many ways to take time for yourself to manage holiday stress so find something you enjoy doing and set aside time for yourself to do it. No matter how busy you think you are, it’s possible to find pockets of time to devote to yourself.
We live in a “smart” world, where so many things are wireless. From our phones to our computers, and even our electrical meters, the world is truly becoming more and more connected. While this has many benefits — I can’t imagine not using my cell phone! — it can make your holiday anxiety worse.
Many of us like to watch TV, scroll through social media, or use our computers before bed, but these devices emit light, which disrupts your sleep cycle. We’re surrounded by bright lights and technology at all hours of the day which can delay your circadian rhythm in the evening, when it is most sensitive to light.
6. Know when to Say ‘No’
I have such a hard time saying “no,” especially during the holidays. With so much demand on your time, it can be difficult to tell people no. This can lead to more holiday anxiety and added stress. When you say yes to everyone, it can over-commit you, make you tired, and stressed out. Setting boundaries and saying “no” will help you manage holiday stress.
Keep a calendar and stick to it. It’s easy to rearrange your calendar to try to please everyone. I’ve done that so many times. If it means you have to sacrifice time with your family, sleep, or stress over an already busy calendar, don’t do it. It’s ok to prioritize your own mental health and take time out of the day for yourself.
7. Create Reasonable Expectations
A good step for managing your holiday stress is creating reasonable expectations, not just with your time. The added holiday anxiety can lead you to believe you’re superwoman or superman. You expect yourself to work without breaks and face difficult tasks like a to-do list. We often overestimate how much time we have, or base our expectations on others. The truth is, you cannot live like that. Here are a few tips to help you set reasonable expectations to manage your holiday stress:
- Anticipate something will go wrong.
- Know that you will feel tired after staying out late at a holiday party or with friends and don’t make any taxing plans the next morning.
- Set your expectations for just you. You cannot control other people.
- Focus on what you can control – your time and yourself.
Bonus Tip: Prioritize Sleep
Since it’s the holidays, and I’m in the giving spirit, I wanted to offer one huge bonus tip to help managing holiday stress and anxiety: Sleep!
Sleep is important to help manage holiday stress. Ideally, you spend at least a third of your life asleep, however that can be very difficult during the holiday season. I have been there.
It is why I formulated Rest and Restore™ or Rest and Restore Max™ to support optimal sleep for a good night’s rest.
Rest and Restore Max™ also features three additional essential ingredients to help those who have particular difficulty falling and staying asleep – melatonin, valerian root, and 5-Hydroxytryptophan.
Getting enough sleep helps make all the rest of these tips easier to accomplish. When you’re well rested you can think more clearly and plan your time well. I wish you a low stress and happy holiday season!
- How to Improve Your Gut Health and Mental Health. WebMD. 2021.
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