It’s that time of year. We have arrived at the last month of the year and December can often be a hectic and stressful month between finishing off work projects, studying for exams for those of you in school, trying to run around get all your Christmas shopping done, decorating the house for the holidays, and to top it off, attending all the social celebrations that occur this month. With this being the first “normal-ish” holiday season, social events are happening in increasing numbers again. We also know that there are a few viral bugs floating around right now. Stress makes our immune systems less efficient to deal with the bugs so here are my top 6 wellness tips to help you manage stress, support your health, and get you through this holiday season.
Cold and flu season has already started and everyone is getting sick on a rotating basis – if you have kids, you have probably had a virus circulating within your family multiple times by now. With social events occurring again, germs will continue to spread so you want to ensure that you are doing what your body needs to support your immune system. The stress that comes with this time of year doesn’t help because when we are stressed, the hormone cortisol rises which can dampen our immune response to viruses. This enables the virus to do its thing and when our stress and subsequently, cortisol comes down, this is when we get sick (think of those times when you would fall sick right after exam period). Supporting your adrenals during times of stress to modulate your cortisol is an important part of your immune support regime. There are so many ways to support your adrenals and it depends on which stage of the adrenal curve you are in so work with a naturopathic doctor to determine the best adrenal support for you.
Zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, probiotics and immune supporting herbs are other great options for supporting your immune system during this season (doses vary based on your health status so speak with your healthcare professional) and, don’t worry, if you can’t get a hold of Tylenol or Advil these days, there may be natural options to help you fight infections. IV and intramuscular nutritional injection treatments can be a great option to get some of these immune-supporting vitamins and minerals directly into the blood in the short-term as well.
Even though the holiday period can get a bit crazy for the reasons mentioned above, I hope you can find some time for rest and relaxation, even if this means intentionally opening up your planner and scheduling a couple of “nothing-to-do” days or a “spa day”.
You may be feeling the exhaustion from the combined stress the last couple of years has brought. Worse, you may be feeling like you are burnt out. Did you know that burnout feeling can be linked back to your cortisol levels? And worse, when your cortisol is off balance, it starts affecting your other hormones too like thyroid, estrogen, and progesterone. Let’s move into 2023 feeling energized rather than exhausted and soak in the excitement a new year is supposed to bring. In order to feel this positive energy, we have to make time for rest.
Our healthy eating regimes can often fall off the wagon during this time of year with all the cheese, baking, and gluten that will be at all the dinners. Know the foods that you are sensitive or react to in a negative way and try to avoid those. Most restaurants and individuals are sensitive to people’s dietary restrictions and expect people to have restrictions these days so they are accommodating.
If you do end up swaying from your optimal eating regime and start experiencing heartburn, bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, or even a flare-up of your eczema or skin rash, have your key supplements and/or digestive support aids (such as digestive bitters, digestive enzymes, lactase, antimicrobial herbs if you need them, natural constipation support, probiotics, or natural diarrhea relief agents) with you. If you are looking for some natural relief to your digestive symptoms or skin flare-ups, book an appointment with a naturopathic doctor for your individualized support plan because certain supplements, especially herbs, may not be for everyone and can interact with other medications.
This goes together with making time for rest and re-charging yourself. If you are lucky enough to have some time off during the holidays and have unused extended health benefits that expire at the end of the year, consider making the most of them and get in for some wellness care from acupuncture, massage, IV or injection nutritional support to keep your energy up or even getting a head start on planning your health goals for the following year and maybe even some comprehensive nutritional, hormone or digestive testing (many benefit plans cover diagnostic testing done by a licensed naturopathic doctor) if you have wanted to put “numbers” to your health.
This can often be a hard one during the holidays when there is so much to do and people to see but you can turn some social time into active time. Staying active will support your physical and mental health because exercise releases endorphins which can uplift our mood during the cold, dark days of the year. Go for a walk after dinner with family/friends or plan some sports activities with your family. A bonus is that you will burn some of those calories you indulge in over the holidays!
This is often a hard one for many people. We (yes, myself included) often struggle saying “No”. Know that it is okay to say no if you don’t want to eat something because you know it will negatively affect you. If you don’t want to drink alcohol, you shouldn’t feel pressured to and be okay with opting for a non-alcoholic beverage instead. Be okay with saying no to friends / family if you are tired and need time alone and away from social stimulation. Try to give them notice ahead of time rather than backing out at the last minute and ruining their plans because nobody likes being bailed on.
Saying “no” can be very powerful because it can help you re-claim your time and maybe even give you time in your busy schedule to find time for self-care and relaxation so you don’t feel burnt out.
Those are my 6 wellness tips to get you through this busy holiday season and hopefully you can move into the new year feeling refreshed and energized unlike last January when many of us felt the new year was a continuation of the previous year and were feeling tired.
If you are looking for some naturopathic support and care, visit the link below to book your consultation.