We lead incredibly busy, and often stressful lives, and it’s important to take time out to manage and reduce your stress every.single.day. Stress has a negative effect on your body’s resistance to disease, and also chips away at your immune system.
6 Tips to Destress During the Holidays
You Must Sleep!
Sleeping 7-9 hours is optimal. Getting less than that increases your appetite hormones. When your hunger hormone, ghrelin, increases, you will feel hungrier and will be more drawn to eat. Inadequate sleep will increase ghrelin in your stomach by about 22%.
Adaptogens For Adrenal Support
Adaptogens are herbs that sense what the body needs and alter its behavior in whatever way necessary to foster peak health. They may not work the same from one person to the next – for example, they may stimulate a certain aspect of one person’s metabolism whereas they’ll lower it in somebody else. It depends on the individual. They’re very intelligent plants!
There are a handful of adaptogens I prefer for destressing and helping to maintain a state of balance in the body.
Aside from being an adaptogen, Ashwagandha contains more than 35 different withanolides, which are compounds unique to ashwagandha, and possess differing benefits.
Ashwagandha is available in capsules, powders, and tinctures. Personally, I prefer the powdered or tinctured form of adaptogens because they feel more potent and effective. However, ashwagandha capsules are also available. The herb is also commonly featured in adaptogen blend formulas, which may contain other calming adaptogenic herbs like ginseng and rhodiola.
As an adaptogen, rhodiola promotes relaxation and a calming effect. It works to offset the effects of an overactive stress response, and helps maintain normal emotional balance. Rhodiola is available in capsule and extract form.
#3: American Ginseng
American ginseng is a calming adaptogen used to promote physical and mental peace and balance. Aside from being an adaptogen, ginseng contains high concentrations of compounds called ginsenosides, which enhances the immune response and supports immune system function and healthy blood sugar levels. American ginseng is available as a tincture, capsule, and extract.
#4: Holy Basil
If you're new to adaptogens, you can take them individually or combining adaptogens works well too. Incorporating adaptogens into recipes is a great way to start, such as this Adrenal Balancing Smoothie with Adaptogens, this Raw Fudge with Ashwagandha, and this Ashwagandha-infused "Moon Milk" recipe.
What You Eat Impacts Stress Response
When you’re stressed, it absolutely impacts your food choices. Stress also impacts your waistline because your body wants to store body fat in that area. Under stress, the body releases hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, and cortisol increases abdominal fat storage, which increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Here is a great list of ways to manage and reduce stress through your diet. These nutrition modifications are really impactful and you WILL feel a difference!
Lavender’s high concentration of volatile oils are responsible for its distinctive and pleasing fragrance. The relaxing experience of smelling lavender led to its therapeutic use in aromatherapy centuries ago. As it turns out, lavender has many uses, and relaxation is one of its primary ones. I love infusing lavender essential oil throughout my house, using my diffuser. Lavender tea is also a delicious, easy way to introduce more lavender.
GABA For Calming
Is just the thought of holiday crowds anxiety-inducing? Or do you feel like you might implode if you hear one more of Uncle Al’s bad jokes? If you’re looking for immediate calm and something to take the edge off – try GABA, an amino acid that increases relaxing alpha waves in the brain. It also promotes mental alertness and focus. Keep chewables on hand for quick relief.
Caffeine exacerbates your stress. Swap your morning cup of Joe for a cup of decaf green tea. It’s high in antioxidants, which help fight off free radicals that cause stress to our body and contribute to disease. If you’re somebody who suffers from stress related insomnia, decreasing caffeine may allow for better sleep and that can reduce your stress levels as well.
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods
- Takeda E, et al. Stress control and human nutrition. J Med Invest. 2004 Aug;51(3-4): 139-45. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jmi/51/3%2C4/51_3%2C4_139/_pdf
- Sapolsky R: Why Zebras don’t get Ulcers: An Updated Guide to Stress, Stress-related Diseases, and Coping. Freeman and Co, New York, 1998, p. 76-79.