Holiday Stress + Nervous System Regulation
Oh, the holidays. A time for festive parties, family gatherings, and abundant celebration, but also a time of high stress for many. From the never ending to-do lists and the the expense of the season to missing those that we love, there's usually a serving of stress on everyone's plate this busy time of year.
Stress Management And The Holidays
Managing stress is a lifelong practice, and one that I am continually assisting my client's with as well. From digestive issues, to heart conditions, mental health, and autoimmunity (just to name a few) the correlation between our health and stress levels is one that even conventional providers can agree takes a major toll on the body. While learning your unique style of stress management and boundary setting can take some serious and life-changing work, there are some simple ways we can tend to ourselves during these chaotic times even if we don't have it all figured out. To learn my top integrative tips for managing acute stress see my list below and begin implementing these easy life changes before things get even busier.
My Top Integrative Tips For Acute Stress Management
While keeping up with the stress of the season can be a challenge for many, there are a few tips to have up your sleeve when it comes to preparing for the season ahead. As a practitioner (and a major over-doer myself) the one thing I find myself continually reminding myself during busy times is that it's OK to drop the ball sometimes in the name of self care. Managing stress often stems from our own ability to forgive ourselves, and allow space for failure and imperfection.
Prepare Ahead of Time W/ Adaptogens: This is probably my number one tip for getting ahead of the holiday stress and keeping your nervous system regulated before the chaos hits. It is also, coincidentally, one that I did not do this season, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that I am feeling it. Perhaps I got a little too confident and didn't see much coming down the line, but I was, indeed, incorrect - and am now making up for it in other ways (see below). Have you heard of adaptogens before? Adaptogens are a class of herbs that help the body and mind modulate stress, making them literally the perfect herb for this scenario. Best taken before things get rough, adaptogens when taken over long periods of time (1-6 months) can actually help to soothe and repair overactive nervous systems, reducing our quickness to turn to the fight or flight response in situations where it is not warranted.
Drop The Ball When You Need To: This one sounds easier than it is, but so much stress comes from desperately trying to get every little last thing done, and over time, this behavior can lead to burnout and overwhelm. While it feels like we're accomplishing more in the moment, once we reach the burnout state we are far less productive and getting everything else done in the days to come becomes almost impossible. When you notice yourself starting to feel overwhelmed (each person's indicators are different), look at your list of to-do's and drop the ones that you can and/or move them to another day if possible. By giving your nervous system a break (even if for a day) you allow your brain to unwind with recovery time, building it's resiliency instead of setting it back. While we all want this time of year to be perfect, you'll enjoy it so much more (and so will your loved ones) if you allow yourself the gift of dropping the ball when you need to and can.
Set Down The Drink(s): This one can be a little hard around the holidays, but I see time and time again in my practice the correlation between alcohol and nervous system dys-regulation. I'm always a fan of moderation and I never tell my clients not to do the things they enjoy (we all need fun and a little indulgence in life), but we can't escape the fact that while calming in the moment, alcohol is incredibly dys-regulating for the nervous system. If you're already feeling stressed, skip the glass the libations and get an extra good night's sleep, and I promise you will wake up feeling better than you would if you had done the opposite. Especially as we get older, alcohol can really disrupt our circadian rhytyms and hormones/neurotransmitters and top of tha. It's energetically depelting and definitely does not set you up for success the next day when you imbibe.
Levity Changes Energy: Last but not least, try to remember the lightness in life even when things get heavy. Levity is the best way to shift energy, and when we allow ourselves to experience it (or release the emotions keeping us from feeling it), we are giving our energetic selves a big old hug. Watch a silly movie, play a game, or do something childlike, and help keep your energy flowing through the madness.
Interested In Working With an Herbalist?
Feeling like you could use all these tips and more? Come see me in my private practice and learn the many faceted ways that herbs and integrative practices can support and transform us in our toughest times. To learn more, see my offerings here.