Holidays Got You Feeling Stressed? Here’s What to Do

It’s so easy to get frazzled during the holidays. Gifts, parties, outfits, in-laws — it can be challenging to manage your stress and energy with so much going on, especially because stress tends to sneak up on you if you don’t keep an eye on it.

Many people don’t realize that the more stressed you are or you feel, the more you get fatigued, suffer from brain fog, put on weight, and feel low. It’s tempting to try to avoid that stress, but life is always stressful, and trying to get away from it isn’t sustainable. Instead, stand up to your stress and manage it. You’re a lot stronger than you might think, especially when you have a few good tools and tricks to help you.

Here are my five quick tips to help you manage your stress and energy over the holidays.

Take your B vitamins every day

B vitamins do a lot of different things for you. The three big benefits of B vitamins are:

Mental clarity. B vitamins are essential for cognition (your ability to think clearly), as well as memory and focus [1]. When you don’t have enough B vitamins, you tend to get brain fog.

Energy. B vitamins also give you more physical and mental energy. You feel more vigorous after a good dose of B vitamins [2], which is why a lot of energy drinks have high doses of vitamins B6 and B12.

Mood and anxiety. Depressed (but otherwise healthy) adults saw a significant lift in mood and were less anxious after taking a B vitamin complex [3].

When you’re stressed, your body benefits from extra B vitamins. People who took high doses of B vitamins every day were significantly more resilient to symptoms of work-related stress [4]. Alcohol also depletes vitamins B6 and B12, so if you like to have a few drinks during the holidays, B vitamins are particularly important for feeling your best.

You want to get the complete spectrum of B vitamins: B1, B2, B5, B6, and B12. Make sure they’re methylated so you absorb them well. You should also always balance vitamin B12 with folate — the two work together, particularly in your brain, and if you have one without another, you can develop an imbalance that saps your mental clarity.

My EastWest Boost supplement has all the B vitamins and folate you need, in the right forms and doses. It will help you boost your energy, memory, and mood, even during holiday stress.

Eat plenty of protein and fat

Your first meal of the day should be high in protein and healthy fat. The combination of the two is key to keeping you focused and on point throughout the day.

Carbs (especially sugar or refined carbs) will spike your blood sugar, which gives you quick energy, but the energy won’t last; you’ll crash and end up with fatigue and cravings a couple hours later [5].

Fat keeps your blood sugar stable and you burn it more slowly than you do refined carbs, which means fewer cravings [5]. Protein is the most filling macronutrient (more than fat or carbs), so you won’t get hungry after a higher-protein meal [6]. That makes fat and protein the perfect pair: they’ll give you steady energy without hunger for several hours, which is especially useful if you’re dealing with extra stress.

Make sure your first meal is high-protein and high-fat. If you eat breakfast, maybe have an avocado, bacon, and eggs. If you’re doing intermittent fasting and don’t eat until lunchtime, maybe have some wild salmon or grass-fed steak and veggies sauteed in butter. You’ll feel ready to take on the day, whatever it brings

Get your ZZZ’s

Skimping on sleep lowers your stress threshold, making it easy for you to get overwhelmed and end up exhausted during the day. In the busy holiday season, stay committed to 7-8 hours of consistent sleep at least 5 nights per week. You can also use a few tricks and supplements to get the deepest, most restorative sleep possible:

Wake up at the same time every morning. You’ll train your body into a steady circadian rhythm — the daily rhythm of your sleep-wake cycle — and you’ll end up sleeping better and feeling less groggy when you wake up in the morning.

Sleep in a cool room. Heat and cold stress your body overnight and can keep you from getting into deeper stages of sleep [7]. Ideally, you want to sleep in a room that’s around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Black out your room. Get some light-blocking curtains or shades, and cover up electronics, smoke alarms, and any other light, no matter how small. Light, especially blue light, interferes with your melatonin production, which will keep you from falling asleep and decrease your sleep quality [8].

Take magnesium, melatonin, and magnolia bark. Magnesium is a wonderfully calming mineral that eases stress and helps you sleep more deeply [9]. Melatonin is your body’s natural sleep hormone; taking a little bit of it at night will make it easier to fall asleep and keeps you asleep throughout the night [10]. Magnolia bark contains magnolol, which eases restlessness by activating calming GABA receptors in your brain [11]. You can find all of these in the right forms and doses in Sleep Savior!

Move your body

Exercise is nature’s stress reliever. It dramatically improves mood and relieves anxiety, and increases your ability to deal with stress [12]. It also wakes up your brain and gives you mental clarity [13].

The holidays are not the time to start training for a marathon — you already have enough on your plate. Instead, go for sustainable daily exercise that challenges you but doesn’t leave you exhausted. Go with a friend if you can; you’ll hold each other accountable and provide moral support.

Avoid mind traps

Five to ten minutes of mindfulness a day can rewire your brain for relaxation and help you calm your nervous system down. People who do daily mindfulness meditation can handle significantly more stress without reacting and have lower levels of anxiety [14].

Set a morning routine that works for you, or use time in your car to meditate, listening to apps as you drive or walk. My favorite mindfulness apps are BrainWave, Headspace, and Calm. All three are great options. See which one you prefer.

The holidays can be stressful, but you have the tools and resilience to make it through them feeling good. Use a few of the tips above to keep yourself happy and even. You’ve got this.

References

  1. Calvaresi, E., & Bryan, J. (2001). B vitamins, cognition, and aging: a review. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 56(6), P327-P339. https://academic.oup.com/psychsocgerontology/article/56/6/P327/610645
  2. Kennedy, D. O., Veasey, R., Watson, A., Dodd, F., Jones, E., Maggini, S., & Haskell, C. F. (2010). Effects of high-dose B vitamin complex with vitamin C and minerals on subjective mood and performance in healthy males. Psychopharmacology, 211(1), 55-68. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2885294/
  3. Lewis, J. E., Tiozzo, E., Melillo, A. B., Leonard, S., Chen, L., Mendez, A., … & Konefal, J. (2013). The effect of methylated vitamin B complex on depressive and anxiety symptoms and quality of life in adults with depression. ISRN psychiatry, 2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3658370/
  4. Stough, C., Scholey, A., Lloyd, J., Spong, J., Myers, S., & Downey, L. A. (2011). The effect of 90 day administration of a high dose vitamin B‐complex on work stress. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 26(7), 470-476. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21905094
  5. Lennerz, B. S., Alsop, D. C., Holsen, L. M., Stern, E., Rojas, R., Ebbeling, C. B., … & Ludwig, D. S. (2013). Effects of dietary glycemic index on brain regions related to reward and craving in men. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 98(3), 641-647. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/98/3/641/4577039
  6. Paddon-Jones, D., Westman, E., Mattes, R. D., Wolfe, R. R., Astrup, A., & Westerterp-Plantenga, M. (2008). Protein, weight management, and satiety. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 87(5), 1558S-1561S. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18469287
  7. Okamoto-Mizuno, K., & Mizuno, K. (2012). Effects of thermal environment on sleep and circadian rhythm. Journal of physiological anthropology, 31(1), 14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3427038/
  8. Hatori, M., Gronfier, C., Van Gelder, R. N., Bernstein, P. S., Carreras, J., Panda, S., … & Furukawa, T. (2017). Global rise of potential health hazards caused by blue light-induced circadian disruption in modern aging societies. npj Aging and Mechanisms of Disease, 3(1), 9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5473809/
  9. Abbasi, B., Kimiagar, M., Sadeghniiat, K., Shirazi, M. M., Hedayati, M., & Rashidkhani, B. (2012). The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of research in medical sciences: the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 17(12), 1161. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23853635
  10. Xie, Z., Chen, F., Li, W. A., Geng, X., Li, C., Meng, X., … & Yu, F. (2017). A review of sleep disorders and melatonin. Neurological research, 39(6), 559-565. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28460563
  11. Chen, C. R., Zhou, X. Z., Luo, Y. J., Huang, Z. L., Urade, Y., & Qu, W. M. (2012). Magnolol, a major bioactive constituent of the bark of Magnolia officinalis, induces sleep via the benzodiazepine site of GABAA receptor in mice. Neuropharmacology, 63(6), 1191-1199. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22771461
  12. Hamer, M., Endrighi, R., & Poole, L. (2012). Physical activity, stress reduction, and mood: insight into immunological mechanisms. In Psychoneuroimmunology (pp. 89-102). Humana Press, Totowa, NJ. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22933142
  13. Gomez‐Pinilla, F., & Hillman, C. (2013). The influence of exercise on cognitive abilities. Comprehensive Physiology, 3(1), 403-428. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3951958/
  14. Hoge, E. A., Bui, E., Marques, L., Metcalf, C. A., Morris, L. K., Robinaugh, D. J., … & Simon, N. M. (2013). Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation for generalized anxiety disorder: effects on anxiety and stress reactivity. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 74(8), 786. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3772979/
By | 2018-11-30T03:02:23+00:00 November 30th, 2018|Wellness|

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