The holidays are already here again and many of us are beginning to feel the exhausting effects of over committing, over spending and over indulging. So often the case during our most wonderful time of the year! And over the holidays with our packed calendars, squeezed budgets and fraught family functions, holiday pressures can take a toll on our health.
So I talked with the experts at Vancouver’s Qi Integrated Health for holistic tips on how we can effectively lessen the impact of holiday stress in the coming weeks. I’ve also partnered up with Toronto-based nutritionist Kyle Byron to suggest guidelines, recipes and insider facts on how to stick to a hangover-free, healthy regime – whether it is in preparation for a New Year’s diet plan, knowing which drinks are best to order, or to have some expert advice to share at holiday parties!
HOW TO BE STRESS-FREE
Top health tips from Dr. Bryn Hyndman from Qi Integrated Health on how to de-stress this holiday season:
Plan ahead and save some time for yourself
Help support your immune system by booking a morning RMT massage, going to your favourite exercise class, or having a quiet night to recharge your batteries.
Promote healthful activities
Instead of sitting and indulging in sugary foods or alcohol, make plans with family and friends to be outside and enjoy an activity together like Christmas light festivals, skating or tobogganing.
Boost your immune system
Lack of sleep and holiday indulgence can be the perfect breeding ground for colds and flus. During the daytime focus on a superfood diet and key supplements to ward off sickness.
To get those key supplements and nutrients into your body quickly, Dr. Hyndman recommends immune-boosting IV therapy as a great alternative. Available at both Vancouver’s Qi Integrated Health and at the IV Wellness Boutique.
For those looking for more long-term, integrative solutions, a start to finish program like Qi Integrated Health’s ‘Energy Boost Program’ might be the best bet. The benefit of long term programs is that you can really target the root causes of your deficiencies and work to develop a plan that’s tailored specifically to you.
If you’re not obligated to go to an event that you don’t genuinely enjoy, send your regrets and prioritize your health. You will be more present and enjoy the holiday festivities you do attend.
Try a soothing supplement
This is one that I’ve incorporated into my daily supplement routines. L-theanine, naturally found in green tea, helps you remain calm and manage your GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) levels.
Make a handmade gift or craft that requires your attention
This forces you to be present in the moment. It’s also vital to schedule alone time into your holiday calendar. This will help you find balance.
Unplug and be present
Try checking your phone for only 15-minutes after every meal. Studies show this can lessen anxiety. Make a point of engaging in meaningful conversations and connect with those who are important to you.
Get outside once a day
Outdoor exercise is proven to have calming effects. It also lowers cortisol and increases endorphins. Go for a brisk walk or do something sporty and energetic to clear your mind and benefit yourself physically.
Start your slow cooker
Start your day by filling your slow cooker with vegetables, lean meat and whole grains so you can come home to an easy dinner rich in fibre and protein to ease the cravings for stress-inducing sugary treats.
HOW TO BE HEALTHY
And for a healthier way to experience cocktails this holiday season. Alcohol consumed in moderation can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Here are some friendly tips to keep in mind, thanks to nutritionist and fitness expert, Kyle Byron:
1. Have a healthy meal or snack prior to any holiday gatherings, that way you’ll be less tempted.
2. Look for healthy options to pair with your cocktails. Shrimp cocktails and veggies with hummus work well and also provide protein.
3. If you are drinking mixed drinks, keep the sugar count low and stay away from sweet snacks.
This is the key to managing alcohol. Ideally if you are having a few cocktails, it is not with a full stomach, so you can alternate alcohol and water. This will maintain your hydration to decrease the chances of a hangover, and therefore more likely to exercise. Hangover headaches are caused from dehydration and a build up of detoxification by products.
Sugary mixes are to be avoided
– A few mixed drinks have as much sugar as a chocolate bar. Instead:
– Drink it straight or on ice
– Soda and citrus fruit
– Diet pop. Artificial sweeteners are safe in small doses
– Bitters. More than ever before, there are a wide variety of bitters from the classic Angostura, to orange, celery, and so on. Experiment with 1 tsp of bitters in a glass with ice, vodka, and soda water
Pure cranberry juice
– Classic cocktails are sophisticated and provide a low-sugar way to drink vodka
Enjoying the holidays is what it’s all about and hopefully by incorporating some of these suggested tips, recipes and helpful advice, you can have a wonderful time while still feeling great and maintaining good health. Keep in mind that holidays are meant for relaxation and a chance to destress and recharge our batteries. So having that said, have a very Merry Christmas and truly Happy Holidays!