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Holistic Tips To Reduce Holiday Stress

1. The Alien Abduction Of The Belly Brain

This time of year can do strange things to people but I am not talking about your parents being abducted by aliens or even your weird sibling. We have two main brains the one that weighs a lot and sits on top of our shoulders and the one in our digestive system referred to as the “gut” brain. While we tend to say “listen to your gut” this applies to intuition which during this season can quite honestly get totally hacked. Many of us eat a very similar diet week in and week out until the holidays. Suddenly with all the commercials tempting us, parties, charity events, and family outings we may find we are indulging in sweets, even more sweets, high fat foods, and alcohol. Now I am not here to be a joy killer, indulge!! Christmas comes but once a year! I want you to be joyful but I also want to help you manage heightened holiday stress, anxiety, and depression (unrelated to medically diagnosed depression. Always seek medical advice if you suspect you have medical depression or anxiety and need help) especially when it much of it may come down to sugar hijacking your gut bacteria.

Sugar has a tendency to get into our bodies in greater quantities in the form of complex carbohydrates (ahem potatoes, bread, pasta, crackers), desserts and alcohol. This increase in sugar can upset the balance of good to bad bacteria allowing the “bad” bacteria to dominate. When this happens we may become worn down, we may sleep poorly, we may digest less of the good nutrients with ease, our mood may suffer and our ability to make decisions may become increasingly difficult, especially surrounding food cravings.  As I said, I am not out to take away your fun but I can suggest a few hacks that you can do to help with this influx of sugar! To help keep the balance in the gut you may wish to try a digestive enzyme to eat right before a meal or sweet treat, and ensure you have probiotics. There are natural foods you can get these from and fermented foods are a great idea to help this time of year too. I have a few favorite supplements that I keep in my purse while I travel and they help ensure that the good bacteria stay plentiful while I engage in merry and joy!

2. Alcohol

Speaking of sugar, let’s jump back to alcohol. Remember that alcohol can lower everyone’s vibration including yours. Sometimes the holidays are a time of grieving the passing of loved ones, and sometimes we are surrounded by blood relatives we are almost certain can NOT be related (or we wish that weren’t). Alcohol will lower your vibration as well act as a depressant. This means that you and the others in the room may be operating at less than your best selves. I love a glass of wine or two when I am connecting with friends or family but I don’t want to feel down and out because of it. Drinking water is my favourite hack. No sugar and no dye electrolyte for twice a day. This supports the body.

3. Conflict

Sometimes this time of year no amount of drinking can help you avoid conflict or discomfort in social settings. When out with large amounts of people or forced to be in places out of obligation that don’t resonate with you, try and take responsibility for how you turn up.  In any situation you can NOT control someone else. When going to obligatory meetings see if you can shift your perspective of needing to be seen, heard, or understood to unconditional love. When we operate from unconditional love we meet people where they are at and love them free of expectation. To do this means to let go of expectation of change, of expectation of them understanding you, and to completely let go of the need to fix or convince. This of course does not apply to small children or abusive situations, we are hypothetically talking about that uncle or aunt who really never has anything nice to say to you or about you but is ultimately harmless and just a common fixture at the holiday dinner table. Shifting how you turn up is freeing, liberating, and exhilarating and leaves you with a lot more energy and joy in the end. Instead of engaging in where they are at and meeting them at that vibration just notice where they are at and love them anyways. Lets remember that unconditional love does NOT mean you become a doormat, it means you hold space for those that don’t get you, are a natural downer, or drive you crazy from a place of compassion.

4. Healthy boundaries

Let’s go there. This is a word thrown around and it doesn’t mean I come first at all costs and no longer have any need to turn up as a team player or family member. Healthy boundaries are about being able to say no, about doing things from your heart not from obligation, and about keeping yourself safe in all ways. Holding boundaries is not a skill we are often taught and sadly it’s seldom modelled either. Its new territory for many and as such it may take some practice. The big thing with a healthy boundary is learning how you want to be treated and then owning the responsibility of teaching others how you want to be treated while respecting their boundaries too. Its a real dance and requires understanding who you are and what you need first.  While we are social beings, we are complex, and getting to know people requires time and effort and maintaining those relationships require constant work. A common pattern is trying to be perfect at saying the right thing, or doing the right thing or always avoiding conflict. Its exhausting and seldom authentic. I believe FOMO (fear of missing out) and lack of boundaries are possibly two of the biggest culprits behind seasonal anxiety, burnout, depression, and overwhelm (unrelated to medically diagnosed depression. Always seek medical advice if you suspect you have medical depression or anxiety and need help) . When we stack our calendars with a million “obligations” we turn up without presence and we strain our best or most valued relationships by stretching ourselves thin.  The holidays come every single year, pick out your favorite things to do and your traditions and pair down the rest by acknowledging you are not missing out by saying no to some things, and NO is a complete sentence. You do NOT need an excuse of justification to say no! NO. 

5. Grounding

This time of year can be really overstimulating. Lots of lights, sounds, lack of sleep, shorter days, people and deadlines. There are a few ways to really ground yourself back into your body that can help alleviate stress. Our feet are one of our best ways to reconnect with the earth. Try to walk around barefoot in the house for at least an hour a day even in the winter. Where possible consider boots with minimal souls and wide bridges so your toes can spread and feel closer to the earth when you are outside. And on that note GET OUTSIDE! Go outside for 10 to 15 minutes every day even if its cold. Get some fresh air into the lungs, breathe deeply, marvel at the cardinals on an evergreen, listen to bin-aural beats, get off your device and just be present in your body outside. If you can’t get outside consider working with some crystals like coral, onyx, hematite, jasper, tourmaline, or smoky quartz. These can all help bring you down and be calming. If you are into essential oils try diffusing blends with orange or blood orange, myrrh, frankincense and lavender. These blends or oils on their own can really help bring you back to earth and calm your auric field as well as soothe the nerves.

6. Gratitude

A huge part of FOMO (fear of missing out) comes with looking at what we don’t have too closely. When we focus on what we don’t have we tend to get caught up in the never ending hamster wheel of insatiability. The truth is if we can’t pause and be grateful for what we already have we will never feel whole, complete, or happy. To help take some of the pressure off of obligatory events or presents focus more on what you already have, who you already are and be grateful knowing its enough. When we want to attract more abundance in our life we need to raise our vibration and an over limit credit card or insufficient funds for a mortgage do NOT raise our vibration. As a single mom, I know as well as anyone how challenging it can be to pay the bills so instead of allowing the inability to fill a tree with presents bring me down I celebrate the walls that hold us safe and warm and the food that fills our bellies. Like everyone I have dreams and I tend to make them into reality but I do this from a place of gratitude not scarcity and it makes a world of difference to how calm I feel day in and day out. 

7. Raise the Vibration

Everything is energy. That is such a broad statement but stay with me here. When your town, or city is economically depressed, when the divide between the classes begins to show more without than with the energy of a place shifts to a lower frequency. While we can close our eyes to suffering and ignore what we see on the street the rest of our senses are fine tuned and hard wired to an interconnected system which means we all suffer on some level. This time of year can be very hard on many people in small part because of the dark, cold, but also due to personal circumstances or financial strain. It is so easy to judge but if we take the judgement and turn into responsible action we can make a difference. One of the easiest ways to ensure you have a healthy economy is to shop local. I KNOW it’s so much easier to shop on Amazon and to have things delivered to our door,  look I am guilty of this in many ways too. If however we exhaust all of our dollars and opportunities to shop local first, we can ensure that instead of factories in Asia (no offence I have travelled to Asia and love it), or large cities elsewhere are NOT who benefits most. Have a little read of the tale below (all fictional and completely impartial)

Tommy and Gina have 3 kids and live in the suburbs in a lovely home on a quiet dead end street. Gina works at the nearby car plant on the assembly line and Tommy is a banker at the credit union. When the holidays come around Tommy and Gina pool resources and begin shopping. They get all the secret Santa gifts at the local craft shows and a few stocking stuffers too. They buy gift cards for the coffee shop and the Greek restaurant owned by their friends.  The owner of the Greek restaurant sponsors a hockey team that Tommy and Gina’s daughter plays on and the daughter of the owner from the coffee shop is the paid employee at the dance studio their son takes lesson from. The dance studio hires social media company that sponsors the local cancer fundraiser and employ two other teens who have managed to avoid high risk behaviours and combat depression and anxiety through their love of teaching children. The reach of the dollars Tommy And Gina spent ripples throughout their city ensuring that the families in their communities have jobs, that the economy continues to have room to hire youth. This closed loop of local love raises the vibration making the entire city for more calm and creating peace and joy beyond the one day a year of Christmas. Once your money goes to Amazon, it may be hard to find people in your hometown that  will see the benefit or feel the ripple of love from you spending your hard earned money.

This year when you think about spending money try out the mantra LESS IS MORE. It may cost more in dollars to shop local so you may have to buy less. The effect of a resilient city will provide you more in the long term than one day with more paper to unwrap. Make it a conscious Christmas and bask in the glory of making decisions from the heart that serve you, your family, and all who surround you.  When you go shopping think first local, then Canada, and leave foreign to last result. 

*This is an energetic perspective and NEVER  intended to replace the advice of a trained and licensed medical practitioner. Always check with your licensed medical practitioner before changing any diet, starting any new supplement or new exercise. Always seek medical attention from your licensed medical professional for symptoms or diagnoses of depression and anxiety. Please use responsibly.