The Grinch that Stole the 2020 Holiday Season

We are starting a holiday season this year that will look very different from past years. Most people are having to adjust or cancel their holiday traditions, replacing the stress of the hustle and bustle of having too much to do with uncertainty, isolation and the loss of routine.

For many, the “loss” of the holiday season and social disconnectedness is extremely stressful and can plunge people into depression and deeper anxiety –  but let’s not lose hope.

The one thing in life that is guaranteed is “change” and the more we are able to learn to adapt to the various changes that occur, the stronger we will be mentally, emotionally and physically. Maintaining the ‘glass half full‘ attitude  is a good place to start and to also remember,… this too shall pass.

We may not be able to spend this holiday with some of our loved ones, but we will be with them in the future and while this may be a concept most adults understand, it might not be so simple for children. All of our lives are upended right now, but remember that children are impacted by all these changes. Children feel the stress of their parents so the more a parent can do to stay centered and calm, the better it is for the entire family.

You can minimize some of the stress to help ensure that the unwelcome guests like anxiety and depression do not share your festive environment.

Tips for coping with new stressors during holidays

  • Spending time outside will boost your mood and lower stress – for example ‘forest bathing’ reduces stress hormones and enhances immunity.
  • For those who live alone, reach out to a friend or neighbor, go for more walks to minimize your social isolation.
  • Vitamin C reduces the stress hormone cortisol, and can prevent illness by alleviating the body’s normal response to physical and emotional stress.
  • Adrenal Support: in addition to vitamin C, Siberian ginseng, ashwagandha, and rhodiola, are some examples of herbs that are proven to prevent the negative effects of stress. Various combination formulas are available.
  • Magnesium status is highly associated with stress levels and increased anxiety.
  • B vitamins are very important to support the nervous system.
  • GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) acts like a brake in the brain in times of increased stress and decreased levels have been shown to cause anxiety, depression and insomnia.
  • L-theanine enhances relaxation, reduces stress and anxiety and helps with insomnia.
  • For young children who are feeling the effects of all these changes essential oils such as lavender and chamomile and the Bach Flower Rescue Remedy can help calm the nervous system.

Attitude of Gratitude – has been linked with better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life, and a kinder behaviour toward others.

Don’t let the Grinch let the holidays become something you dread. With a little planning, natural remedies and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.

KAREN JENSEN, (RETIRED ND)

Karen Jensen was in clinical practice for 25 years and although she is retired, she continues to write books and educate on the naturopathic approach to wellness. She is author or co-author of seven books, her most recent is Women’s Health Matters: The Influence of Gender on Disease.

References:

Patak P, Willenberg HS, Bornstein SR. Vitamin C is an important cofactor for both adrenal cortex and adrenal medulla. Endocr Res 2004 Nov;30(4):871-5. 

Cornwell EY, Waite LJ. Social Disconnectedness, Perceived Isolation, and Health among Older Adults. J Health Soc Behav. 2009 Mar; 50(1): 31–48.

Panosssian A, Wikman G. Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress—Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010 Jan; 3(1): 188–224.

Yoto A, Murao S, Motoki M. et al. Oral intake of γ-aminobutyric acid affects mood and activities of central nervous system during stressed condition induced by mental tasks. Amino Acids 43, 1331–1337 (2012). Cornwell EY, Waite LJ.

Boonstra E, deKleijn R, Colzato LS, et al. Neurotransmitters as food supplements: the effects of GABA on brain and behavior. Front Psychol. 2015; 6: 1520.

Hidese H, Ogawa S, Ota M, et al.  Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2019 Oct; 11(10): 2362.

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