Being with friends and family bring much needed nearly post-pandemic social time with friends and family, yet it’s difficult to keep calm for the holidays.  It’s a time of giving and catching up with those we may not have seen for close to two years.  It’s festive, bright, and joyful, yet for some people, this season has also been known to be a time of over-the-top consumption of time, spending, drinking and eating holiday treats.

The result is that at the end of December and beginning of the new year, we end up in a state of holiday burn-out.  Our emotions, physical system and nerves are spent and overstimulated from too much holiday cheer.

I’m not recommending staying home and sheltering in place.  We had too much of social isolation starting in March 2020.  What I am suggesting is to bring more awareness to your actions and have an intention to celebrate with balance and more rest.  Check-in regularly to protect your energy and emotions so that you avoid FMO or “fear of missing out” and take necessary breaks between gatherings, events and trips to the stores.

Here are some ways to keep balanced and healthy for the holiday season.

1.  Create a Game Plan

Because you can’t control all the situations that arise during the holidays, create a plan that will help you to stay on course.  Have intentions laid out before accepting party invitations and family gatherings.  How many events do you wish to attend in a weekend?  How much time will you spend with family members? For example, if you’re traveling, perhaps getting accommodations away from the house where everyone is staying will help you to gain some quiet time and much needed rest away from the family excitement and drama.

2. Eat Mindfully

There are plenty of delicious and healthy holiday meal options available and you can even to indulge in a sweet treat afterward. However, most of the food you see during the holidays are richer than you normally eat, as they can contain more fat, sugar, dairy and gluten—foods that tend to kick off allergic reactions in your system and create digestive challenges. Try eating small amounts of these foods or even “bites” to avoid reactions and load up on the vegetables and salads. If you have known allergies, avoid those foods altogether.  If you do have a food slip-up, then take supplements such as coconut charcoal, enzymes and probiotics to possibly alleviate the symptoms.

3. Drink Carefully

Give consideration to your intake of both alcohol and caffeinated drinks. Caffeine elevates cortisol production in the body, which increases levels of stress. In a time that is already anxiety-driven, you want to do everything possible to calm your emotions and nervous system.  Alcohol increases toxins in your bloodstream and also decreases serotonin levels in your brain, which can bring down your mood and energy levels. Opt for mocktails instead and over-hydrate your system with water.  If you do drink alcohol, then have one glass of large water (or more) for every alcoholic beverage that is consumed.

4. Get Plenty of Rest

The holidays are a notorious time for getting less sleep than normal.  Sleep deprivation can cut into your energy levels, concentration and mood. Plan on getting home early from gatherings and try to go to bed and rise at the same time as usual.  If you are getting less sleep, then plan on a nap to make up for lost rest hours.  By getting enough sleep, you can ensure that your brain and system can stay balanced so the holidays will be enjoyed more fully.

5. Cheat with Herbs

Adaptogenic herbs promote a balanced response to physical and emotional stress.  You can take them at the start of the holidays, after Halloween, through the New Year to protect your adrenal glands, which can produce too much cortisol, causing your nervous system to go on overdrive. These herbs incude ashwaganda (Withania somnifera), eleuthero (eleutherococcus senticosus), and rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), all which can be purchased in health food stores and online.

6. Move Your Body

You can’t beat a better way to burn extra calorie intake than movement.  It’s not about keeping maintaining your weight, but taking advantage of the other benefits of exercise such as boosting energy, promoting better sleep, combating health conditions and boosting your mood.  Ideally, you should include a combination of aerobic exercise such as hiking, biking and swimming with other forms of movement like yoga and Pilates.

7. Give Back

Perhaps the best way to enjoy the holidays and to boost your own happiness is to give back to others. Buy a coffee for the person in line behind you. Consider volunteering to help those less fortunate including the hungry and the homeless by serving meals or providing small gifts of clothing and toiletries. Join a choir or caroling group that visits nursing homes and hospitals, or read to those with poor eyesight. You may wish to make a habit of this activity not only for holidays, but all year round.


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