Take the Edge Off the Holidays: 6 Natural Holiday Stress Relief Tips

The holidays are usually a joyous and wonderful time of the year for most, but for many of us they can also be very stressful. Whether it’s related to gift-giving anxiety, travel upsets, inclement weather, difficult family dynamics, isolation or overindulgence, this time of year can make us all more susceptible to colds, flu, fatigue, depression and general malaise.

Instead of allowing ourselves to go into hibernation mode as there is less and less sunlight during the holiday season, we pull our coats tight and brave the cold weather, traffic jams, crowds, and long lines to get our gift shopping done (often at the last minute). We stay out late, drink too much, eat too much, and scramble under pressure to complete projects or plans before the close of the year.

Add the pressure of living up to the expectations of family and the inevitable weather-related travel upsets and you’ve got a recipe for major stress.

So what can you do to take a little bit of the edge off this time of year? Here are some tips to help you keep your stress to a minimum and improve your mood so you can enjoy the holiday season with some sanity:

Get plenty of rest. Stay hydrated and remember to breathe … deeply! Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night or make up for lost sleep by taking naps or sleeping in. Lower alcohol consumption and drink plenty of other fluids, especially water, to stay hydrated. And remember to breathe deeply.

Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugars. OK, I know this is a tough one, but it can make a huge difference in how you feel! Refined carbs tend to spike then deplete your serotonin levels leaving you exhausted. So, indulge a little, but try to stick to healthier treats like dark chocolate or seasonal fruits. Balance things out by eating fiber-rich serotonin-enhancing foods like whole grains, root vegetables, beans, legumes, seeds and nuts, along with a little lean protein (turkey or fish).

Load up on Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Research shows a strong association between Omega-3 fats and brain health. Definitely a case of the more the merrier! Your brain needs a certain amount of fat to function properly and remain healthy. but not all fats are created equal. Some of the ones you may think of as unhealthy are actually good for you (in spite of the conventional wisdom), while others that you may have been led to believe are healthy, are actually quite harmful for you due to their high Omega 6 content, not to mention the significant amount of processing that goes into making them. That’s why it’s important to increase you essential fatty acid intake during the winter months and times of high stress like the holidays. You can get your omega 3s from wild caught salmon, walnuts, avocados and chia seeds!

Slow down. Take time to savor and enjoy the rituals of the season. Stay present with yourself and everyone around you and practice forgiveness and acceptance. Remember, you can choose to let go of whatever is troubling you for the moment.

Reach out to others, especially those in need. The holidays can magnify feelings of isolation or loneliness for those who can’t be with family or don’t have family to be with. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and comfort if you are in need. Helping others in need also has a profoundly healing and uplifting effect, both physiological and psychological.

Surround yourself with uplifting and nurturing sounds and smells. During the holiday season it is especially important to surround yourself with soothing and uplifting smells and sounds. Listen to music that makes you happy and calm even if its not holiday music. A great place to start is with one of our Soothe collection of aromatherapy products. The combination of lavender, geranium, clary sage and chamomile essential oils in this blend help you stay calm and grounded, even when things around you are a little chaotic.

If you need a little extra help adjusting your mood try our Inspiration blend with it’s uplifting mix of citrus essential oils –sure to put a smile on even the most stubborn of scowls. If traditional holiday smells stress you out or make you depressed, avoid them as much as possible.

Reach Out and Touch Someone for Real This Valentine’s Day

The phrase “Reach Out and Touch Someone” was a clever and highly successful advertising slogan originally designed to encourage people to use long distance phone service to do just that. Its long-running success has been attributed to the way the ads effectively spoke to the emotional and “heart” connection that comes from talking to and sharing your feelings with someone you love or care about.

This advertising campaign was so effective it’s been credited with practically launching long distance phone services. We’ve come a long way since those days. Now, with the advent of email, smart phones and wireless Internet, the ability to communicate with practically anyone, anywhere, any time, has become almost ubiquitous. So much so that it’s hard not to wonder if the emotional connection that we crave and the positive feelings it normally generates are still possible with this type of frenetic and short-hand communication.

Picking up the phone and calling someone you love on a special occasion like Valentine’s Day makes perfect sense if they live far away or you’re not able to see them in person. But this year for Valentine’s Day, why not reach out and touch someone for real? Whether you celebrate this occasion with a romantic partner or by connecting with other people you love, the gift of touch can have a far more profound effect than the simple gesture of a phone call.

Studies in brain science show that touch is good medicine for both the body and the brain. Even the simple act of holding hands can significantly relieve stress and anxiety. The best news of all … the far-reaching positive effects of touch are not strictly limited to romantic gestures or even therapeutic massage. Many sensory experiences involving touch –caressing a baby, petting a cat or dog, or even receiving a handshake from someone– all positively affect your physiological well-being leaving you better equipped to manage stress which in turn, boosts your immune system.

Here’s why … your skin represents the body’s largest sense organ. Your body is wrapped in approximately eighteen square feet of it! Even a tiny cross-section the size of a coin reveals several million cells, up to 100 sweat glands, 50 nerve endings and three feet of blood vessels. The human hand contains a staggering 100,000 nerves of at least 20 different types, while each fingertip contains more than 3000 nerve receptors. Together they interpret various touch sensations, and report to the brain on joint and muscle activity, pressure, temperature, vibration, and pain.

So you see, your magnificent skin acts like the eyes and ears of your brain –faithfully receiving commands and returning messages from the outside world. With the amazing power of touch, you literally have at your fingertips a variety of ways to offer gifts of love to those you care about!