Holiday Stress and How to Minimize It

Ah, the Holidays! I think we all love/hate them. This time of year I always get excited thinking about spending quality time with friends and family. But, I also cringe at the thought of the obligatory gift-giving charade. Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping for the perfect gift or thinking of handmade gifts that will surely be appreciated by those I love. But read any blog or magazine article around this time of year and you’ll find charts with how much to tip your mailman, specific amounts you should be giving your hairdresser, don’t forget your UPS driver, etc. Come’on…..

This past weekend, spending time with family and new friends, we were discussing the holidays when one woman said, “I think we’re going to skip Christmas this year.” I was shocked! Skip Christmas?!? Who ever heard of such a thing. But as we continued talking, I realized she and her husband had the right idea. They of course, weren’t skipping out on the opportunity to spread holiday cheer, give thanks for what they have been blessed with and to try and spend quality time with those that meant the most to them. What they were skipping, instead, was the obligatory gift-giving, the stress of mall shopping, and saying ‘yes’ to each and every party invite they receive. What a glorious idea! Back to the good ole days.


Whether you decide to tone it down a bit and get back to the basics this season or go all-out, the fact remains we all spread ourselves a bit too thin this time of year and forget to take care of ourselves the way we should. Remember this – your body can’t discern between good/exciting stress (like the anticipation of seeing a loved one you haven’t seen in years) or the bad/upsetting stress like Uncle Henry having one too many cocktails and getting into an argument with anyone and everyone who passes by his chair. When we’re stressed, that stress takes a toll on every cell in our bodies which leads to them not functioning properly. Some cells even die off which leads to inflammation which in turn, causes all kinds of nasty things to appear such as, getting sick (head or chest cold), headaches, stomachaches, bloating, gas, and just feeling like…well, crap.

One of the best ways to combat all of this nastiness is to take extra-special care of yourself.

  1. Eat clean, whole foods; look at the label and if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, put it back on the shelf! Eat only foods that are recognizable, foods that you know where they came from. Foods that, if your Great-Grandmother saw them she’d recognize – I’m sorry but that Grande Frappuccino, Caramel Latte, dbl shot whatever probably wouldn’t qualify.
  2. Get plenty of rest! Our bodies are not meant to go 24/7 and even though you may like to brag about only getting 5 hours of sleep – when you do, your body goes into fight or flight mode, stays in constant high alert and burns all its natural energy trying to prepare to escape at any moment.
  3. Drink plenty and I mean P-L-E-N-T-Y of water!
  4. Be kind to your liver. Your liver is your body’s detox hub. Your liver takes substances that may have accumulate in your body (substances it doesn’t know what to do with) and transforms that foreign substance into something that is less harmful on your body so it can eliminate it out of your body.
  5. Repeat #3

Harmful Liver Loaders:

Caffeine – I know…we ALL LOVE our coffee but caffeine is very taxing on the liver. Coffee, soft drinks, those god-awful energy drinks, etc. Be mindful of how much you consume in one day.

Caffeine – average mg/cup

 Coffee (French press) 120
Espresso 80
Instant 60
Tea 50
Green tea 30
White tea (from the white tea bush) 5
Decaf 2-5
Cola (can) 35
Diet cola (can) 45
“Energy” drink (bottle) 109
Dark chocolate (bar) 20

Alcohol – please don’t kill me here, I love a nice glass of wine as much as the next guy or girl BUT, wine and alcohol are very taxing to the liver as well. The World Cancer Research Fund tells us to “Limit alcoholic drinks to no more than 1 standard drink per day for women, and include a minimum of 2 AFD’s (Alcohol Free Days) per week” but did you know the WCRF qualifies one glass of wine as 1/2 a cup?!? I don’t know about you but I’ve never, EVER gone to a restaurant where they pour 1/2 C of wine.


Have fun this holiday season, take time for yourself to really enjoy those you love as well as time alone in peace and quiet. Be mindful of the foods you eat and the drinks you consume. Maybe take on a new holiday tradition of going for a massage, taking a meditation or yoga class or just soaking in a hot bath. Let’s all learn to be good to others as well as to ourselves.

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