Welcome to the holiday season — the whirlwind time of buying gifts, having too many holiday parties on the calendar, and being faced with unhealthy food options galore. If you’re more stressed out than usual during this time of year, you’re not alone.
Did you know that there are two different parts of your nervous system? (Yes, you’ve heard us talk about it before!) One is your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the other is your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The SNS is also known as our fight or flight mode. It’s what we tap into when we’re stressed, overwhelmed, and our body is just trying to find a way to survive. Back in the day when our ancestors experienced life-threatening situations, like being faced with a saber-toothed tiger, they’d rely on their SNS. When it fires up, our heart rate and breathing speeds up, stress hormones like cortisol start pumping through our bloodstreams, preparing our body to face a threat.
Our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), on the other hand, helps us thrive. It’s what helps us rest, relax, digest, and reproduce. When the parasympathetic system is dominant, our breathing slows, our heart rate drops, our blood pressure lowers as the blood vessels relax, and our body is put into a state of calm and healing. Acupuncture is a fantastic way to get us into our PNS!
FUN FACT ABOUT ACUPUNTURE:
Studies show that acupuncture stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone that signals and regulates the parasympathetic nervous system. Acupuncture also addresses the side effects of stress, like high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose levels, and insomnia. At TMB, our clients have coined a term for the physiological effects they experience post-treatment…acustoned! Get in touch with us today to book an appointment!
The good news is that holiday stress is only temporary – We know when it will begin and end, so we can set the intention to reduce how much stress we’ll experience simply by calling in tools we know will support us.
Here are some tips you can try to help reduce holiday stress before it begins, so that it remains at a level we can handle, rather than an overwhelming one.
1. Make time for deep breathing
Deep breathing exercises are scientifically proven to have health benefits, some of which include increased clarity, a stronger mind/body connection, better sleep quality, lowered blood pressure, enhanced mood, and reduced stress!
2. Prioritize sleep
Along with nutrition and exercise and other important lifestyle factors, sleep is a key pillar for our mental and emotional health. In fact, sleep is when our bodies repair so we can be ready for whatever the following day brings!
3. Get out in nature (grounding)
A walk or hike in nature is a great form of moving meditation and exercise. Being exposed to nature has been shown to increase memory, boost mood, reduce stress, improve productivity and naturally give you a boost of energy! The benefits also include decreasing cortisol levels in the body, naturally boosting your immune system, and helping you tame your sympathetic nervous system.
4. Set boundaries for yourself
Believe it or not, we don’t have to say “yes” to every holiday party invitation! It can be down right uncomfortable to enforce our boundaries when we’re with friends or family– after all, we tend to prioritize the comfort of others over our own. However, saying no to a triggering conversation or another helping of food/wine is one way to honour your values and goals first.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way! And there’s always a way to reduce the items on our to-do lists. From ordering your groceries to hiring a cleaning company or organizing catering, empower yourself to lighten your workload and ask for help when you need it.
6. Conscious alcohol consumption
The holidays are infamous for overindulgence (another rosé, anyone?).
Now, we’re all about enjoying the holiday season and the treats it has to offer, however, in the case of alcohol, overdoing it can be dangerous to our bodies. It’s always important to remember quality over quantity. You can drink, but drink the good stuff. We recommend opting for an organic/biodynamic wine or a gluten free liquor.
We know you’re busy as ever, but try to keep up with your supplement routine. Stay on top of nourishing your body so you can feel optimal. We recommend Vitamin C and Vitamin D for vitality, our Insomnitol Chewables for a guaranteed restful sleep, and NAC (a fan favourite) for preventing those nasty holiday hangovers!