Self-Care Tips

3 Tips for a Less-Stressed Holiday Season (Plus the Supplement Recs That Can Help)

No matter how much excitement you have for holidays—whether it’s daydreaming of tinsel decorations and rom-com movie seshes or just looking forward to some time off work—most of us can agree that this time of year can be... stressful. But it is possible to have a less-stressed holiday season with a little help.

That's why we teamed up with The Vitamin Shoppe® to bring you a few tips on sorting through holiday stress, which feels different than your usual everyday stress for a reason. “Stress is with us year-round, but the holidays multiply it,” says Omar Cruz, vice president of botanical sciences and innovation at Himalaya. “Our bodies are built to find balance, but the holidays jumble up our innate sense of normality and as a result, our body's heightened stress response automatically kicks in.”

"If you have a stressful day, you know what? Great. That's just your body practicing its response for a better one tomorrow."

And that leaves us with the big question: How, exactly, can we achieve a less-stressed holiday season once that stress response kicks in? Cruz’s recommendation is to approach it in two ways—both physically (via things like supplements) and mentally (via practices that support your mental health).

On the physical front, he recommends focusing on supporting your adrenal health. "Your adrenals produce hormones like adrenaline, aldosterone and cortisol," he says. "Those are the things that move the levers up and down on your stress levels, your blood pressure...fight-or-flight reactions. If all those things are extra magnified during the holidays, it makes sense to give them extra nourishments."

On the mental health front, he shares more detailed tips below, but overall urges people to give themselves grace during this time of year. “Don't look at the holidays as something you need to survive," he says. "Look at them as something to celebrate and embrace. If you have a stressful day, you know what? Great. That's just your body practicing its response for a better one tomorrow.”

Keep reading for tips on feeling less-stressed during the holiday season.

1. Reframe your inner discourse

On the days when you feel like you have a zillion items on your to-do list (gift-wrapping, shopping, decorating, working, etc, etc, etc), Cruz notes that the way you talk to yourself is key. “You can call your day frantic and hectic, or you can call it adventurous and lively," Cruz says. "Only you get to pick your words for it. Choose wisely."

Your inner discourse can have a real impact on your stress levels (though you also have complete permission to be honest when your day really does feel more negative than positive), and you can call in some backup for your new positive self talk practice by adding Hello Joy from Himalaya to your supplement lineup. It combines ashwagandha with amla, bacopa, and holy basil—ingredients that have all been linked to supporting the body's stress response and adrenal health.

"The ashwagandha in Hello Joy helps support your emotional wellness by promoting the normal cortisol levels that are linked to uplifting your mood," Cruz says. "The holidays aren't just a physically tiring time; they can be emotionally difficult for a lot of people too. The bacopa in this one helps support your sense of focus, mental relaxation, and clarity, too."

2. Give yourself permission to say no

As much as we might like to accept the invitation to every holiday party, family gathering, or Zoom happy hour, saying no when you're feeling over-obligated can be a source of empowerment.

"[By saying yes to everything] you're only hurting yourself because of constant burnout and social anxiety," Cruz says. "It's okay to say, 'I'm sorry, I just can't make it. Let's catch up after the holidays when things settle down again.' It's really okay to do that. Give yourself permission."

If you're already feeling the fatigue of a packed holiday calendar, Hello Energy can help with its combination of ashwagandha and energy-supporting ingredients like amla and haritaki. (Though if think you're experiencing burnout, you should start by talking to a doctor or mental health provider.)

"The Ashwagandha in Himalaya Hello Energy helps... support normal cortisol and DHEA levels, which are both leading indicators of adrenal health," Cruz says. "Additionally, in a company-sponsored, unpublished study of 60 participants taking Hello Energy, it was found that daytime fatigue was reduced by 68 percent vs. a 24 percent increase in the placebo after six weeks."

3. Disconnect and clear your mind

Don't underestimate the power of simple, stress-relieving activities that can help you feel more grounded during this time of year. Some of Cruz's favorites? Taking a 10-minute walk around the block, doing a five-minute meditation, or closing your eyes and taking 10 slow, purposeful breaths twice a day. Even if your stressors are still there when you open your eyes, you'll feel just a little bit better knowing you took some time for yourself.

Add on to your mindfulness practices by recruiting Hello Peace to your supplement lineup, which taps ashwagandha to promote relaxation and a sense of calm, in addition to herbs like turmeric and saffron that studies have linked to mood-supporting properties.

Overall, remember two things this holiday season: To be kind to yourself, and that all the small actions you take in supporting your mental and physical health can add up to helping you feel just a little less stressed. “Grab some serenity this season," Cruz says. "It takes practice, but believe me—you've got this."

Top photo: Getty Images/Juice Bros

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