Breathe... It's Just The Holidays!

by Farrah Kaeser, CMH, RMT, CNHC

Stress is something that nearly all of us experience in daily life, but during the  holiday season the heat is on and stress runs rampant. Traveling, cleaning, cooking, working, and dealing with often difficult family and friends can push most anyone over the edge.

But so what? Everyone gets stressed. How harmful could it really be? I’m so glad you asked. Stress can cause or worsen headaches, chest pain, asthma, muscle tension and pain, upset stomach, ulcers, heart disease, insomnia, fatigue, weakened immunity, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, anger, sadness, depression, lack of focus, eating disorder, obesity, social withdrawal, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease. In addition, studies have shown that it can cause accelerated aging of your brain, birth defects, and premature death. That’s right, stress can actually destroy your DNA!

So, aside from quitting your job and moving to a cottage in the country, what can you do to reduce stress, protect your wellbeing and enjoy the season?

Breathe. Every hour or two, stop whatever you’re doing and inhale through your nose to the count of four, and then exhale through your mouth to the count of five. Do this five times.

Keep your perspective. Stress often comes from focusing on the past or the future. Try to maintain focus on the now. And during the holidays, remember what it’s really about. Love, kindness, and gratitude. Obligation and guilt, which are the chief causes of stress, have no place in that mix.

Practice yoga, tai chi, qigong or just go for a walk. Taking this time for yourself not only creates a space of peace for your mind and spirit, but also strengthens your body.

Try meditation. You don’t have to be religious to meditate. It is a moment to acknowledging yourself. You are a beautiful, wonderful, important physical and spiritual being. You deserve this time.

As an herbalist, I would be remiss not to mention some beautiful herbal answers to stress. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), and lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) are three of the best herbs for helping you unwind and release the tension from the day. Preparation of choice for these three is a tea. There are also other herbs, such as skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), valerian (Valeriana officinalis), and oatstraw (Avena sativa) which can be used in more severe situations, such as when anxiety, depression or insomnia are involved, and are usually taken as a tincture, but should be used under the guidance of an herbalist.

This year, instead of worrying about the insignificant, uncontrollable details, I hope you enjoy the peace, love and joy of the holidays. And the pie. Enjoy the pie.

These facts and opinions are those of a certified Master Herbalist, Reiki Master Teacher, and a Natural Health Consultant, and are for educational purposes only, and not intended to replace consult with your healthcare practitioner.
If you have any questions or concerns about anything in this article, please contact me or your natural healthcare practitioner immediately.