Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Ommmm Through Holiday Stress

By Alana Sugar, November 2, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar
WholeBodyEssentialOils2

Let's face it: The holiday season can be pretty stressful. There's shopping, working, gift buying, crowds, family stress and all of that "special" food! At best, it can feel overwhelming. At worst, completely out of control. What to do?

Well, before we get to that, let's review how stress affects our bodies. Stress is a natural reaction to danger and isn't necessarily a bad thing. Cortisol, the main stress hormone, kicks in during times of crisis to make you more alert and prepared for action. Your senses are heightened, and the brain and immune system are primed. Other functions, like digestion, slow down. When safety returns, the body goes back to status quo. The challenge comes when the "danger" doesn't resolve - the body never gets the chance to "settle down" and recuperate. Chronic stress can lead to slower immune system responses, impaired cognitive function, lack of appetite control and sleep difficulties. Yikes!

So, what to do about all of that added holiday stress? Here are some of the things I try:

  • Create gift-giving plans to avoid last minute shopping and rushing. It also helps keep me on budget - don't need to add financial stress!
  • Stretching
  • Stick to an exercise program! A great stress buster, exercise keeps your blood flowing, oxygen moving and helps control your weight. For relaxing movement, try Tai Chi, Qigong, yoga, gentle stretching, walking or Pilates.
  • Make time for yourself! Spend some time alone drinking a cup of calming tea, reading a good book or magazine, taking a cat nap, getting a massage, taking a walk, listing to some favorite music or hanging out with your cat or dog. Even just five minutes can be helpful.
  • Keep your diet simple and healthy. We all try special things at parties, but for the most part focus on whole foods and a balance of nutrients. Go for fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, etc.
  • Don't use the holidays as a reason to go overboard on anything - especially caffeine and alcohol. Try to moderate refined and added sugar too!
  • Get enough rest! A well-rested body will be better able to cope with holiday stress.
  • russian-Tea
  • Breathe! When most people inhale, their lungs fill to only 1/6th their capacity. Focusing on slow, deep breathing is one of the simplest ways to calm our bodies. Here's a simple exercise: Breathe steadily and deeply through your nose, hold, exhale steadily, and then hold. Start small, and as you continue to practice, you can inhale, exhale and hold for longer periods of time.
  • Use calming essential oils, like lavender and chamomile. You can sniff straight from the bottle, put a few drops on a cotton ball and place under your pillow, sprinkle a bit on the floor of a warm shower or in a humidifier.
  • Boost your magnesium intake - the "anti-stress" mineral. Found in nuts, seeds, whole grains and leafy greens, magnesium is known to help promote relaxation and proper nervous system function.
  • Reach for the Rescue Remedy™. A long-standing favorite, Rescue Remedy is a mixture of Bach flower essences that work to provide natural stress relief -perfect for overwhelming holiday stress and bustle.

I hope you all have a very calm and relaxed holiday season! How are you planning to make that happen?

 

11 Comments

Comments

carrie says ...
I loved this peice. What a great idea to give people this info. I know it will definatly help me.
11/25/2009 11:12:04 AM CST
Divina Day Spa says ...
Another great stress releaver is a relaxing massage or facial!
11/27/2009 12:22:43 PM CST
jacqueline royalty says ...
I want to thank Whole Food for this help in time of Hoilday stree it is also great for all year thanks Whole Food.
12/01/2009 7:45:04 AM CST
Snack Snoop says ...
Wow, these are great tips! Thanks for sharing.
11/02/2009 12:07:46 PM CST
Melanie says ...
Thank you! I was just thinking about the holidays today and found myself already getting stressed instead of excited. I will implement these tips.
11/02/2009 10:58:22 PM CST
Sharon says ...
I have introduced whole grains into my lifestyle which has changed my weight and how I feel about myself drastically. I have some facts about various whole grains along with some recipes that I enjoy: http://www.shar-on-nutrition.com/?p=362 Feel free to comment! :)
11/03/2009 1:12:52 PM CST
steve s. says ...
Holidays can be a time of wonderful celebration, sharing and connection, but for many, it can also be a time of added anxiety and stress as extended families come together around the dinner table. The non-profit PAIRS Foundation is now offering free one-hour webinars to help families learn five steps for creating joyful holidays and family celebrations. For more information please visit: www.pairs.com/splash/familytime.html
11/18/2009 1:37:29 PM CST
Frank says ...
I think this is a great reminder that simple things such as diet, exercise and good friends go along way to insulating youself against the stress and strains of holiday/everyday life!
11/09/2009 6:01:53 AM CST
paig292 says ...
@Vickie While we don't have online ordering of products, you can contact your local store to find out if they have the flower essences you are looking for. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/ Thanks.
07/05/2010 11:04:44 AM CDT
Vickie Clark says ...
I'm trying to buy the 3 bottle bach flower essences which help control emotional eating. Can't seem to find it or order it on this site. Can you help me? Thanks.
07/02/2010 6:14:02 PM CDT
mguenther says ...
I read about essential oils and how relaxing it is. I've been looking for a place who sells it online and I found Whole foods and very reasonable also. Thank you for your comments.
10/03/2010 8:42:20 PM CDT