The holiday season is once again upon us with all of the usual festivities, and unfortunately the additional stressors on our minds and bodies. Take heed of these 5 tips to keep yourself in very merry shape and avoid being a yuletide basket case.
1. Support your adrenal glands: Tip number 1 focuses on supporting the hormonal balance that our body needs to maintain for happy and harmonious function. More specifically, we will be giving attention to the often-neglected adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system, which you can think of as your body’s’ own internal chemical messenger system. Messages are sent through the bloodstream so that different parts of your body can communicate with one another. The adrenals are primarily responsible for secreting cortisol, which is our main stress hormone. This time of year, with all the stress, our adrenal glands are working overtime to keep up with the demand. Why not give them a little bit of support? There are many different herbs, vitamins and hands on treatments that can be used just for this purpose. Talk to your ND about what is right for you!
2. Bed-time/wake-up time regularity: It is very important to go to bed and wake up at the same time most nights in order for your internal clock, or circadian rhythm to function optimally. Normally cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, is high in the early morning and gradually decreases throughout the day; cortisol helps wake you up and gives you energy. Melatonin, your body’s sleep hormone, is usually high in the evening and supports sleep. You can see that these two hormones oppose one another. When your bedtime varies too much from night to night your hormonal system can get disrupted. Cortisol might spike later in the day or in the evening, making it both difficult to go to sleep when you want to and also to get out of bed in the morning.
3. Start the day right with a good breakfast: Make sure that your breakfast includes both protein and healthy fat so that it will absorb slower and your blood sugar will be more stable throughout the day. This will also keep you feeling full longer and decrease your cravings for unhealthy mid-morning snacks like pastries! Avocado, coconut oil, almonds or almond butter, cashews or cashew butter, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds are great choices for healthy fats to include in your breakfast. Some suitable protein ideas are organic eggs, nuts, lean meats and organic yogurt (if you can tolerate diary).
4. Healthy eating – Its what you do most of the time that counts: There will inevitably be some indulgences over the holidays, and this is OK! Remember that it’s what you do most of the time that counts. Take good care of yourself and eat healthy throughout the week and leading up to the big events so you can feel ok about enjoying them, and to give yourself a little bit of grace! This brings me to my last tip…
5. Digestive enzymes: If are going to indulge in rich foods over the holidays get yourself a secret weapon: digestive enzymes. When our digestive systems are functioning optimally, our bodies make enough digestive enzymes to break down the food we eat. But, when we overload the system, say at Christmas dinner, it is difficult for the digestive system to keep up. You might experience symptoms like over-fullness, bloating, cramping, gas and pain! Taking a good quality, full spectrum digestive enzyme with your indulgent meal can do wonders to help your body deal with the aftermath. Seek out your digestive enzymes from a health food store or your naturopathic doctor. A couple great brands to try are Thorne Bio-gest and Cyto-matrix Cyto-Zyme.
I hope these simple tips will help to alleviate some of the stress that you may experience over this busy time!
Dr. Nicola Bennett, NC