The holidays can be one of the busiest times of year, at least I know they are for me! One of the top complaints I hear from my clients is that they feel tired and burnt out because there are so many festivities to attend and so many family commitments. Ideally, the holidays should be one of the best times of year so today I want to share a few things you can do to avoid the burn out (or help you manage if you’re already feeling it this season!).
Tip #1: Eat More Stress Busting Nutrients
When you’re under prolonged stress, your body requires more of certain nutrients, particularly vitamin C, the B vitamins and magnesium. Vitamin C will also help keep your immune system in tip top shape through the cold winter months. Foods high in vitamin C include your colourful fruits and vegetables like bell peppers, leafy greens, oranges, tomatoes, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Foods high in B6, one of the most important B vitamins for stress, include protein like turkey, chicken, beef, eggs and salmon. B5 is also important, and is high in mushrooms, avocado, sweet potato and lentils. For magnesium, pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, soybeans, sesame seeds and black beans are all great sources.
Adaptogenic herbs and supplements can also help. It is difficult to give specific adaptogenic herb recommendations here as they are a bit like trying on a pair of shoes: what works for one person may not work for the next. Some great ones that are calming include relora, holy basil or Strest.
Tip #2: Be Smart About Your Sugar and Alcohol Intake
Holiday events tend to be full of sugar and alcohol – so telling you to abstain completely is just not realistic. Instead, I’ll give you some tips to be smarter about them!
- Try not to show up at a holiday party starving. If you’ve had a little snack ahead of time, you’ll be able to make more rational food choices at the party instead of scarfing down every sweet in sight.
- Alternate your alcoholic drinks with a glass of water. Staying hydrated will really help you feel better the day after a night out. An easy way to make sure you keep up your water intake is by matching your alcoholic intake with water.
- Bring a healthier option to the holiday party. I’ve got 10 healthy holiday recipe ideas here that won’t leave you with a food hangover the next day.
- When it comes to your drinks, feel free to opt for a mocktail instead. We’ve got 3 delicious mocktail recipes here (with alcoholic options if you prefer). One of the things about drinking at parties is that it feels awkward not to be holding a drink. With a mocktail in hand, you might even forget you’re not drinking.
Tip #3: Play The Long Game
It can be really easy to only think short term and focus on today, tomorrow or this week only, telling yourself that Future You will get to the self-care. The problem with that is it’s a ticket to feeling tired and burnt out. It’s SO easy to tell yourself you don’t have time for something like exercise or meditation because you’re busy with work. I know because I’m guilty of it too.
The antidote to hard work, being busy, or feeling stressed is play, relaxation, exercise and unwinding. And if you know you’re in something for the long game, you have to schedule in self-care like it’s a job. Look at your calendar for the rest of the season and add in at least one thing daily for 30 minutes that you can do to take care of yourself. It could be a bath, a walk with a friend, or a run. If you have an accountability partner to do the activity with, you’ll be way more likely to stick with it.
Regarding exercise, treat your exercise differently depending on how busy or intense the rest of your life is at that moment. If you have a really energy-consuming week (for example, if you are more of an introvert but you have lots of extrovert activities, like parties, to attend), do more recovery exercise like yoga or brisk walking. If you’ve got a quieter week, up your exercise game and do something more intense like a spin class or a bootcamp-type class. Remember that exercise doesn’t have to be something that leaves you completely depleted afterwards.
Mandy King is a holistic nutritionist and the founder of HEAL, a wellness company that provides corporate wellness, 1:1 nutrition coaching and weekly meal planning. Mandy leads corporate workshops for Canada’s top companies, including Google, Facebook & PwC, and helps health-conscious clients looking to heal their digestion, boost their energy and shed excess weight through healthy, delicious food. A self-proclaimed gluten-free guru, all of Mandy’s recipes are gluten-free and Celiac friendly.