Do you feel like the holidays might get the best of you and your energy? If preventing holiday fatigue is on your mind, I want to let you know you're not alone.
Many of my patients share that the holidays are the most stressful time of year for them!
Travel, family, late nights, eating out… It’s easy to see why the happiest time of year might zap you of energy, challenge your mood and even push you into putting on a few extra pounds.
The truth is, the holidays mess with your hormones!
Cortisol is up and out of it’s normal rhythm. You feel stressed, on edge, anxious and maybe notice a bit more padding around your midsection.
The downstream effects is weight goes up, you start dragging through the day, you’re irritable with everyone…
Cortisol disruption makes it absolutely impossible for you to enjoy time with your family, let alone keep from losing your temper.
But with a bit of strategy, you can keep your mood, your energy and your cortisol in check. I am sharing with you the tips and strategies I give my patients to prevent holiday fatigue and lower stress.
And be sure to scroll to the end and grab the 5 Tips to Improve Energy image to take with you as you travel.
8 Ways to Prevent Holiday Fatigue
1. 8 Hours is Non-Negotiable
I LOVE chatting late into the night with my favorite people! Isn’t there something just so good about the conversations that get started somewhere between 10-11 pm?
I’ve been guilty of indulging epic conversations until the wee hours of the next morning so I get it!
But in truth, while this might be bumping my oxytocin (the cuddle hormone), this is also hard on my adrenal glands, melatonin and my progesterone levels.
Does this mean you can’t ever have a late night?
No, but it does mean you’re going to have to take a bit more care with regards your sleep if this is you.
A week before traveling to see friends or family I recommend sleeping 8 hours nightly and being in bed by 10 pm.
If you’re going to stay up late one night, make sure you have some time to sleep in the next day or take a nap. Getting 8 hours is a non-negotiable for someone with adrenal dysfunction.
Remember, anytime you dip below 7 hours you are messing with your hormones!
Here’s what happens when you get too little sleep:
- Sugar cravings go up
- Your body stores more calories as fat
- Blood sugar levels climb
- Inflammation rises
- Risk for stroke and heart disease rise
And that is just the tip of the iceberg!
But regarding how much sleep you need… really, the best answer is, however much you need.
If you’ve got some time off of work, I recommend trying to go to bed when you feel tired and sleep until you feel replenished.
Not waking feeling rested despite 10+ hours of sleep could be a sign of of something bigger like a thyroid condition or mononucleosis. It’s best to meet with a doctor to discuss your energy if you find yourself feeling this way.
Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep are common symptoms of hormone imbalance. The Free Digital Hormone Balancing Starter Kit, which is my gift to you, will help you bring your hormones back into balance so you can get more restful sleep!
If your body is tired, but your mind won’t stop racing, you may benefit from a cortisol reducing supplement. Taking 1-2 before bed can help lower cortisol levels, allowing you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Adaptogenic herbs, like Rhodiola, can help bring cortisol into balance. For my patients, I recommend the Optimal Adrenal Kit from December through February to show their body some serious love & prevent burnout.
The kit contains Adrenal Support, which has adaptogenic herbs to help you have sustained energy throughout the day. The Adrenal Calm is there to help you chill at night & skip that wired & tired business. I also love it for changing time zones & getting in rhythm with the new place. Adrenal Calm helps naturally lower cortisol so it's an evening formula.
And it has B-Active Plus, which if you saw my post on PMS the other day, all of us need some extra B vitamins through the holidays. Plus, it helps with liver detox (cough -cocktails).
Check out the Optimal Adrenal Kit here.
3. Make That Body Move.
It is soooo tempting to skip your workout. So. Tempting.
I feel you. In the past, whenever the holiday activities roll in I’d find myself scheduling exercise right out of my calendar. And inevitably I’d be tired, cranky and feeling off.
Now we make it a point to make movement part of our holiday celebration.
Whether you’re bringing your family into the mix or just getting some quality time with yourself, getting your exercise is important.
And it only takes about 10-15 minutes to get your metabolism up and get the stress out!
Try a tabata, strength routine or just get your heart rate up with some aerobic activities like running, swimming, biking, hiking or a HIIT routine.
4. Judge Less, Love More
Friend, this goes for yourself too!
Being critical about your friends, family, or yourself does nobody any good. Not even a bit.
It’s easy to judge. It’s easy to criticize. But taking the time to build up, to practice kindness, and to love takes effort… but an it’s an effort with endless rewards.
And self kindness lowers inflammation!
Yes, if you’re spending your days hating on yourself then your adrenals are taking a hit.
Controlling inflammation is one of the major roles your adrenal glands has in the body. When inflammation rises, your adrenal glands secrete cortisol to help reduce the damage that inflammation causes.
For some people, the holiday season can trigger some pretty intense negative self talk or taking an overly critical eye to your life. Self compassion lowers inflammation, brings cortisol into balance and helps you enjoy all the benefits of progesterone — chill mood, loving life, easy periods and blissful sleep.
In one study, it was found that those who practiced self love had lower levels of inflammation.
4. Yes to the Turkey. No to the Stuffing.
Protein is going to make your adrenals, your hormones, your mood and your body oh so happy!
On the other hand, if you want to hate on your adrenal glands, then by all means grab all the low fiber, high sugar foods you can.
Only kidding. I know you want to love your adrenals and hormones like nobody’s business.
Eating protein (and fat) with your meals will keep you full and make for some even blood sugar control, which your adrenals need.
When blood sugar spikes and dips it takes a real toll on your adrenals. They are responsible for helping the liver share some of its sugar stores with the rest of the body. When your blood sugar dips, your body produces cortisol in response.
Overtime, these spikes and dips can create a disruption in how your brain and adrenal glands talk. In addition, your cells can eventually become resistant to insulin, which can lead to diabetes.
Learn more about how diet affects your hormones.
5. One & Done!
Ever find yourself navigating the social event just fine only to have that one relative tell you how disappointed they will be if you don’t eat their dessert?
Firstly, if said dessert will make you ill or you have a known food sensitivity, then you’ll need to give them the “thank you, no thank you” conversation.
But if it is a situation where you don’t want to eat too much sugar or whatever it is, you can do the one and done!
Basically, one bite is all it takes (along with a big fat compliment) to make that relative and your brain happy. The second bite doesn’t make you feel as good.
So if you feel like you can practice the one and done, then take that bite, sing the praise and walk away knowing you made someone’s day.
6. Eat Your Greens.
Take half that plate and fill it with greens. No hesitation. No eyeing those creamy mashed potatoes. None of it!
The first thing you do when you get to the dinner table (aside from thanking the host) is fill half your plate with greens. Salad, Brussel sprouts, green beans, sautéed collards… you get the idea.
Those greens are going to fuel your body, keep your blood sugar regulated and fill you up with nutrient dense goodness, opposed to the empty calorie foods that fill most people’s tables.
Now I’m not saying don’t eat the mashed potatoes. But what I am saying is that focusing on getting your greens and moderating the intake of blood sugar and adrenal sabotaging foods.
These foods will have less of a disruptive effect when you start with a belly full of greens.
7. A Daily B Complex
Those adrenal glands love their B vitamins and as you can imagine, when stress goes up, so does their demand.
Eating whole foods is always the preferable way to get your vitamins, but during the holidays, you’ll likely need a bit more support.
Taking a daily B vitamin every morning can help boost your energy, balance your estrogen and progesterone and lower your body’s perception of stress.
8. Serve an Adrenal Supporting Tea
I have family who fancy themselves an espresso after dinner. I instead opt for a decaf tea that will give my adrenals some support.
I’ve also found that sipping an adrenal tea gives my patients a lot more energy throughout the day and prevents them from being susceptible to every cold that comes by.
Yes! Loving your adrenals will help you ward off colds and flus.
This Alterative Tea is one of my favorites for supporting hormone balance, increasing energy and it has the benefit of improving the health and appearance of your skin.
Need to take the edge off or get some better sleep?
Opt for a Nervine Tea before bed. These herbs nourish the “rest and digest” part of your nervous system.
It won’t knock you out, so feel free to drink throughout the day. The Passionflower in this tea is especially helpful in promoting GABA, the neurotransmitter that helps us feel calm.
One tablespoon of tea, one cup of hot water and 5 minutes later you have a nutritive cup of tea! Feel free to enjoy it as is or add a little honey.
Do you crave coffee, but it aint your friend? Like causing jittery, anxious, sweaty, and other less favorable symptoms then opt for some mushroom tea instead.Four Sigmatic is a delicious medicinal mushroom blends (no not that kind), the kind that helps your adrenals, naturally boosts energy and can supports optimal brain health.
Remember preventing holiday fatigue is far easier that treating it. But if you do feel your energy slipping and stress rising, try any of the above tips to bring your health and life back into balance.
Wishing you an abundance of health this holiday season!
Dr. Jolene Brighten
P.S. These teas also make awesome gifts, especially with a cool tea pot like this one. Can’t go wrong giving the gift of better health! 😉