Tis the Holiday season and with it comes awkward holiday parties, bad sweaters, platters of weight gaining cookies and hoards of people at the mall. Not to be a downer, but the holiday blues are very common occurrence. So don’t feel alone if you are only noticing the negative aspects of the season.
Hollywood has painted beautiful images of close-knit families, sledding and cuddling by the fire with that special someone. However, if you experience the holidays more along the lines of National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation” — a never-ending disaster — here are some helpful tips to facing and fighting the Holiday Blues:
Nutrition- Candies, Cookies, Pies Oh My! High doses of sugar and refined carbohydrates will cause your insulin to spike, which can lead to hypoglycemia (a sudden drop in blood sugar). This physical reaction can cause headache, irritability, fatigue and cravings for more sugar. It can be hard to break the cycle once it has begun, so it’s best to start the day off nutritionally strong.
Breakfast: Skip the coffee cake – choose a bowl of steel cut oatmeal with nuts, cinnamon and fresh fruit or try 2 eggs with ½ an avocado on high fiber toast. This high protein and fiber rich breakfast will start your day with even blood sugar, fewer mood swings and less cravings for sugar throughout the day.
Snacks: Keep raw trail mix with dried blueberries and dark chocolate chips at your desk to satisfy the afternoon cravings.
Beverages: Pumpkin Spice Latte with extra whipped cream looking too good to be true? Save your waistline and stabilize your mood by choosing a hot chai tea sweetened with honey to get some sweetness without the calories.
Sunlight- many of us feel the blues during the shortened days with less sunlight. It may be SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a type of depression that tends to occur as the days grow shorter in the Fall and Winter.
Vitamin D- The pro-hormone that is produced during exposure to sunlight tends to decline during the Fall and Winter months. Ask your doctor to check your Vitamin D level in your blood and consider supplementing with 1000-2000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily.
Exercise- Stick to your exercise regimen, or better yet, try a group class to meet new people. Exercise will increase levels of mood lifting endorphins and serotonin causing an almost immediate lifting of mood.
See the Light- Sit by a window at work or eat breakfast and lunch outside to enjoy the sunlight as much as possible. If you live in an area with minimal sunlight talk to your doctor about a full spectrum light therapy box.
Change it Up- Take an hour to write down what causes you stress, anxiety or sadness during the holiday season. Identify any old patterns of dealing with these issues and change it up.
Does the financial strain worsen your mood? Set a budget and stick to it by making gifts yourself or finding items at local thrift stores. Or make a deal with your family and friends to not exchange gifts and have a potluck dinner party instead
Family madness driving you crazy? Shorten your stay, opt for a hotel instead of your old bedroom and make a point of telling each family member something positive about himself or herself. This might just shift the energy so there is less nagging and more acceptance
Hate the weight gain? Adding pounds during the holiday is not a must. Experiment with sugar free or gluten free recipes, make exercise a priority, and focus on drinking 8-10 glasses of filtered water a day to reduce mistaken food cravings. Still having difficulty? Schedule an appointment with a preventative health doctor who focuses on wellness. There may be an underlying hormone or neurotransmitter imbalance that is inhibiting you from staying at your ideal weight
If you have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, SAD, or have noticed lower mood, a feeling of isolation, change in sleep patterns, or change in appetite, please seek a consultation with your doctor or therapist to fully evaluate your condition. If thoughts of hurting yourself or others occur please find help or call 911 immediately. Various hotlines are available to speak with someone immediately: 1-800- 273- TALK.
For more information on how to live healthy naturally contact Dr. Bridget Anderson, Naturopathic Medical Doctor at HEAL Natural Medicine. 949-476-3278 or Bridget.Anderson.ND@gmail.com