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  • Writer's pictureDr. Valerie Girard

Got holiday anxiety? How to stay healthy and happier....

Do you feel ever feel blue when the season calls for joy? Are you dreading “getting through” Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years? Or are you simply alone and wondering how to feel connected to the celebrations that are taking place around you.

Even those with loved ones around them are likely to feel overwhelmed with the extra planning of preparing for the holidays. And that may bring on a feeling of fatigue and stress. If there has been the loss of a loved one during the year or especially during the holiday season, you may also feel grief and depression.

There are a number of strategies to combat a downturn in mood that may hit you throughout the “season”.

First and foremost, I find that paying attention to diet is key! From Halloween through New Year libations and “treats” dot the landscape of our days and nights. Overindulgence in sugar, baked goods, alcohol and other foods that are not well-tolerated such as gluten or dairy may affect our mood or depress our immune system. This can also lead to getting the flu or a bad cold.

Too much caffeine can add to holiday jitters. So can chocolate, sugar or alcohol if not used lightly or moderately. Skipping meals or not eating enough protein, may cause anxiety or fatigue.

While alcohol in small amounts can relax us after a tough day of Christmas shopping, too many drinks create fatigue the next day and in some cases insomnia during the night. Enjoy one or two a couple of days per week, especially during your work week.

There are foods that are known to elevate our mood without the backside of an energy crash.

First and foremost, eat small to medium portions of protein throughout the day. A good measurement is two fingers width of meat, nuts or seeds. Some protein drinks deliver easily assimilated protein. These can be made up in the morning and consumed throughout the day. Small amounts of goat cheese, cottage cheese, almonds, cashews, hard-boiled eggs, or quinoa can assist the body, mind and spirit to stay on even keel. Consume as many veggies as possible as well and include whole fruits and occasional grains.

Working out reduces stress and helps pick up our mood. A good run, bike ride, yoga or Pilates will guarantee a positive shift.

Certain foods and supplements can also make a big difference. Here is a list of substances that will help calm body and mind and allow you to enjoy the ensuing holidays with a lilt in your heart.

· Kava, Valerian, Basil, Turmeric, Chamomile and Passionflower are all herbs that soothe jangled nerves. Sometimes they can be found in one formula and can be taken during the day or right before bedtime.

· Lavender and Orange oil aids in relaxation and sleep.

· Magnesium is the calming mineral, assisting in releasing tension from stressed muscles.

· B vitamins, taken with breakfast, can greatly reduce stress. However, avoid before bed as they may create sleeplessness.

· Melatonin is a known sleep aid that can also be taken during long plane flights over the holidays to assist in acclimating to new time zones.

· Turkey is a relaxant! It releases serotonin into the body. However, it may make you sleepy after your Thanksgiving meal.

· Pumpkin seeds and banana have anxiety reducing components.

· Lemon. Just squeeze it into hot water and sip on it instead of having an alcoholic drink for a satisfying beverage that warms and relaxes the body. It also aids in improving lymph circulation, helping to prevent colds.

· L-arginine, L-lysine and L-theanine, (particularly Sun-theanine,) are amino acids that are very helpful for reducing anxiety and boosting our moods.

· SAM-E has been helpful for some people who tend towards the blues.

· Try Rescue Remedy as well, if you have experienced traumas during the holidays. It can brighten a stressful day.

· Need a caffeine hit? Try green tea, especially Yerba Mate for a mild, not jittery boost.

· Dark chocolate, lightly sweetened is also good in small amounts for adding a bright burst to your taste buds!

· Avoid foods heavy with gluten, dairy and friend oils to feel lighter, healthier and happier during the coming celebrations.

Have a protein drink before going to parties to aid in resisting the urge to splurge.

One of my teachers once told me, ”When you are stressed, eat protein and veggies. The day you get fabulous news or are enjoying the company of friends and family, that is the time to enjoy some of life’s little pleasures.”

Thus said, this holiday season, “Eat and Be Merry!”....but just choose the right food and drink that will keep your spirits high.

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