It's that time of year when my patients come in STRESSED to the max. During the holidays, we're expected to be cheery and bright, but instead find ourselves frazzled, broke, and tired. In my practice, I see an increase in immune concerns, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and plenty of GI complaints from all those cookies. Winter is already the perfect storm for feeling blue and getting sick - we exercise less, get less sun, less fresh air, eat poorly - and the stress of the holidays can be a tipping point for many people.
How to Buffer Yourself:
Depression & Anxiety: If you are feeling blue, please know that you're not alone. And you're not a Scrooge if you don't enjoy December - you are reacting normally to societal expectations that are not normal. Thankfully, most people do not overeat, overspend, and overplan year - round, so remember that this chaotic time of year is only temporary. If you're having a hard time with lack of daylight, consider using a sunlamp, which studies have shown help not only with Seasonal Affective Disorder, but also with routine Depression. Recognize when your Depression or Anxiety is too much to handle alone. Psychology Today has a great search tool for finding a therapist near you and the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24 / 7: 1-800-273-8255.
Diet: Eat 3 meals per day during this time to aid in balancing your blood sugar. Blood sugar spikes and crashes, such as what our bodies go through when we eat too many carbs, can contribute greatly to fatigue and mood issues. Make a game of balancing out the sweets: for every cookie, eat a handful of nuts, veggies, or protein to help prevent a blood sugar spike and subsequent crash. Drinking plenty of water can help flush out the toxins of bad food and too much eggnog and helps in preventing colds and flus.
Exercise: Don't forget to move a bit. Walking around the mall counts! Can't afford a gym membership? Work out at home with videos on YouTube or other free sites. I love Yoga with Adriene on YouTube for short relaxing yoga videos.
Acupuncture: People who get it regularly come to crave Acupuncture for the deep relaxation it can provide. Acupuncture reduces stress and helps regulate mood and sleep. We offer Acupuncture at our office and talk more about its benefits in this article.
Finances: Consider making home-made gifts, limiting your gift-exchange to just the most important members of your family (partner, parents, kids), or bartering.
Supplements: This section could go on infinitely, but I've included just a few supplements for managing stress and mood:
Dr. Michelle Haff is a Naturopathic Doctor at Lilac Natural Medicine in Manchester, New Hampshire. Her practice focuses on Pediatrics, Women's Medicine, GI, Endocrine, and Mental Health concerns. She is a Primary Care Provider for the whole family and loves treating kids from pre-conception into their teens, as well as adults of all ages. Dr. Haff is a graduate of Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona and Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She is licensed to practice medicine in New Hampshire and is the Vice President of the NH Association of Naturopathic Doctors (NHAND). Dr. Haff is also a member of the Pediatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians. She loves yoga, singing, travel, and spending time with her family.
Dr. Michelle Haff (she/her) is a Naturopathic Doctor and Certified Acupuncturist at Lilac Natural Medicine in Bedford, New Hampshire. Her practice focuses on Pediatrics, Women's Medicine, GI, Endocrine, and Mental Health concerns. She is a Primary Care Provider for the whole family and loves treating kids from pre-conception into their teens, as well as adults of all ages.