by: Cheryl Wright, Registered Holistic Nutritionist
Chances are your holidays last year were cooped up with the same household members you spent every other day of the pandemic with. This year with vaccination rates rising, you might have an opportunity to enjoy some in-person holiday cheer. Unfortunately, whether in-person or virtual this joyous time can also bring stress.
Sometimes it’s good stress; trying to fit in all your traditions such as setting up holiday décor or cooking traditional meals or treats. Chances are you love them when complete, but the process can be frustrating and time consuming. Bad stress is also common such as working late to finish up projects before taking holidays or worrying whether the gift you found will arrive in time. The normal worries of the season have also been intensified with the ever-changing pandemic restrictions.
To work towards a stress-free holiday season, try some of the following:
- A quick breather may be all you need to reset and start again. Try taking a deep breath, hold for a slow count of three and then when you breathe out, imagine the anger and stress leaving your body with the air you expel. If you need some stress-relieving guidance there are also many meditations apps such as ‘Calm’. If you are just plain exhausted and stressed out, you could also try Jamieson's Mushroom Complex. Health Canada states this 1 a day product works “to help increase energy and resistance to stress in case of mental and physical fatigue related to stress.”¹
Worried holiday foods will cause gas and bloating when finally having a meal with others? You might be surprised to learn that the average person passes gas 12 - 25 times per day, which equals to 0.6-1.8L of gas excreted daily! Although gas is a normal human function, it can be embarrassing as well as uncomfortable if it causes bloating. Swallowed air becomes most of the gas in our digestive tract. We release some of this air from the stomach by belching, while the rest moves through the digestive tract and leaves through the rectum (passing gas / flatulence). Bacteria in our large intestine make the rest of the gas when they feed on undigested foods, producing hydrogen and methane gases, which can have an unpleasant smell.
If your body has the enzymes required to break down foods efficiently, it leaves less food for bacteria to feed on.² You can help this process by taking digestive enzymes with meals. To prevent swallowing air in the first place, try avoiding the following:
- eating when you are upset or in a hurry
- chewing gum or sucking on candy
- drinking carbonated beverages
- sipping hot beverages
- using a straw to drink or drinking from a bottle
- When we are stressed or worried it can become more difficult to fall asleep, then the next day if we are overtired, we are more easily irritated and stressed-out. To combat this vicious circle, a healthy sleep habit is important:
- Go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time everyday, whether it is a workday or a holiday
- Avoid electronics at least 30 minutes before bed
- Use a sleep mask or dark blinds to keep your bedroom dark
- Use a white noise machine or app to block out noises
If you are still having difficulty sleeping, try melatonin to rebalance your sleep wake cycles. Melatonin can help to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and increases total sleep time.³ If you can begin healthy sleep habits during the holiday season, this is a wonderful gift to yourself to use throughout the new year.
As 2021 ends, take a moment and think about the things that have brought laughter or a quiet smile over this year. Take those positive thoughts and use them to spread joy to others in whatever way you can. Wishing you quality time with those you love, and a happy and healthy New Year.
- Health Canada. Natural Product Number 80087030. Accessed Nov 19, 2021 https://health-products.canada.ca/lnhpd-bdpsnh/info.do?licence=80087030
- Canadian Society of Intestinal Research. Intestinal Gas. Accessed Nov 19, 2021 at: https://badgut.org/information-centre/a-z-digestive-topics/intestinal-gas/
- Health Canada. Melatonin – Oral Monograph. Accessed Nov 23, 2021 at: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=melatonin.oral&lang=eng