Staying Healthy and Happy Throughout the Holiday Season
Let’s face it, the holiday season can be one of the most stressful times of the year. The days are getting shorter and the nights are longer and colder. This is the time of year where our internal clocks are meant to slow down, taking the time to reflect and be still in order to follow our natural rhythm. But with all of the modern day demands, from shopping to family get-togethers, there’s a lot to do and so much to keep in mind that it can throw even the most centered person out of balance.
In Chinese Medicine we always talk about the importance of balance and moderation. These concepts are especially valuable to apply to our emotional health and well being. Many medical studies show the correlation between keeping stress levels low and maintaining positive health. When emotions get out of balance due to stress or strain, our body’s ability to fight off fatigue and illness are diminished. We are more prone to indulge in emotional eating and drinking for comfort to try to medicate the stress and strain. This can make one feel lonely and hopeless, which is usually also made worse by the lack of sunlight and cold weather.
Exercise and Visualize
- When eating your holiday meals, take your time and savor each delicious bite. Remember that chewing slowly will help with easing digestion, preventing heartburn, and feelings of nausea.
- Check in with yourself before running off to the next event, the grocery, or when trying to multi-task. When out and about try to take your time and if things get hectic, pause and take a few deep breaths.
Stay Warm and Eat Warming, Nourishing Foods
- Avoid the dreaded “food coma” by talking a 15-20 minute brisk walk after eating. The ancient Chinese believed that if you take 100 steps after dinner, you could live to be 99 years old. It’s worth a shot, isn’t it?
- Getting outside to exercise and take in the fresh air can also lift your mood and gives you a good excuse to take a break from any potential chaos. Many people enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and sledding this time of year. Staying active releases endorphins and keeps the brain chemistry happy and balanced.
- Use visualization and imagery when put in a difficult situation. Everyone has a relative or in-law that knows how to push buttons. People like that are trying to get a rise and reaction out of you. Before reacting, try to notice a change in your breath or notice your body tightening up as that person pushes you. When you’re aware of the sensation, pause, disengage your emotional response, and take a few deep breaths. It might help to do some visualization and imagine that you’re on a peaceful beach with only the sounds of the waves.
It’s important to bundle up and protect your body from the cold weather. Wearing scarves, hats, and gloves can help keep your body heat warm and circulating. It may seem like an old wives tale, but bundling up and staying warm can help prevent you from catching a cold!
There’s a good reason that warm hearty soups, whole grains, and hot tea sound so yummy when the temperature drops and it has to do with your Kidneys and adrenal glands. The organ system associated with wintertime is the water element, the Kidneys and Bladder. The adrenal glands are located on top of each Kidney and contribute to the body’s energy and warmth by producing secretions that make the Kidneys function properly. Bone marrow soup is one of the most pure and nourishing tonics and can help the body heal and effectively use energy. Eating soups with a tiny bit of seaweed also tonifies and nourishes Kidney energy.
Beat the Winter Blues with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
It’s somewhat normal to experience a lower mood in the wintertime, but if it continues over 2 weeks or starts to disrupt your daily life, it’s important to find out if you might be suffering from winter-onset depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. The symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as defined by the Mayo Clinic are:
- Loss of energy
- Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
- Social withdrawal
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are great tools to combat depression and anxiety. Acupuncture has the ability to help patients achieve a more balanced state. A recent study found that acupuncture is as effective as counseling for depression
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help to calm the nerves, ease agitation, and lift the spirit when a patient is feeling down. There are several herbal formulas that work as natural anti-depressants *.
- Gan Mai Da Zao Tang is translated as Calm the Spirit formula and is great at relieving depression, restlessness, insomnia, low energy, and fatigue.
- Gui Pi Tang is great for anxiety, insomnia, low appetite, and worry due to over-thinking.
- Xiao Yao Wan is a nice holiday herbal supplement to help ease irritability, frustration, headache, dizziness, and PMS.
*To ensure efficacy and safety of an herbal formula, schedule a complimentary medical evaluation with our licensed herbalist.
Ask for Help to Support Yourself
As soon as you start to notice your mood slipping, contact the team at PRH for help. We can assist you in letting go of stress, enhancing relaxation, boosting your mood and energy, and make a customized Chinese herbal formula just for you!