Holiday Hustle

Holiday Hustle

The holiday season is upon us. For me it is a time of nostalgia. The smell of turkey and Christmas cookies reminds me of my youth. If I close my eyes I still remember that soft warm feeling of putting the first bite of pumpkin pie into my mouth.  As a child the holidays seemed effortless. Everything just happened. Now that I reflect back, that was due to the fact that my mother was pushing herself to the limit to make sure everything was perfect. 

As a son of a perfectionist and the father of three, the holidays are often a time of major stress in my life. I burn myself out racing to all the holiday parties, making sure I buy all the right gifts and indulging in all the wonderful food.

I decided a few years ago that I wanted to take a different approach to balancing both the enjoyment of the holiday season with staying on track with my health. The holiday hangover just wasn’t attractive to me anymore. It really influenced my energy and focus heading into the new year. 

Today, I’m sharing with you some tips and ideas that you can implement to help you do the same, let’s dive in. 


Holiday Responsibilities 

Are you preparing your house for out-of-town guests? Are all the decorations hung in their proper place? Is your food list dialed in so that every recipe goes off without a hitch? If you think about it, the list is endless. It becomes impossible to cover everything. Soon, in order to meet our demands we start running off of our endorphins and cortisol. This leads to burnout, increased inflammation, and continues patterns of chronic disease. 

How do we make our holiday season special without creating more disease in our bodies? Start with asking for help. People love to help. If you are a perfectionist and like to hold onto control this will be hard. Releasing the reigns of control provides your body much needed resources to make it through the holidays and enjoy it while it is happening.  

For a lot of us, the holidays are about creating an exciting environment and sharing it. This brings joy. If you are the one leading your family's holiday charge then step into a good leadership role and delegate. Have others do the more mundane tasks of going to the grocery store or cleaning up after the big meal. Personally, I found that the planning and execution actually gave me energy but it was the small tedious tasks that burnt me out. 


Managing holiday emotions

The holidays are all about joy, love and connection right? Maybe. There sure is pain and disappointment that happen as well. 

We have expectations of how it should go, how we want other people to act and treat us. Expectations about who should be there and sadness when someone doesn’t show. 

Having just gone through the pandemic, we want this holiday season to be as “normal” as possible. Navigating back to a place of normality might come with its challenges. Reconnecting with family that you have not seen and spending extended periods of time with them can be exciting, but it can also increase your stress. This stress response will aggravate your existing chronic symptoms. 


Establishing a game plan where you are delegating tasks, finding time to slow down and enjoy the moment, and giving yourself permission to not get every detail right, is essential for managing your stress.   

Signs that your body is not adapting well to the holiday stress

It is important that you stay conscious of how your body is responding during the holidays. Our body will give us clues if we are pushing it too hard. Not listening to this feedback is dangerous and will drive disease further into your body making it harder to recover and maintain your health. 


When both physical and physiological stress gets high, your adrenal glands take over.  The release of cortisol from the adrenal gland puts you into a constant state of fight or flight. This promotes inflammation, fatigue and increased body pain.   


Physical symptoms indicating that you are moving towards burnout and adrenal function imbalance include:


  • Skipping meals and craving sugar and coffee

  • Tired all the time

  • Difficulty falling asleep easily and waking multiple times in the middle of the night

  • Difficulty concentrating and forgetting things often

  • Worrying about getting things perfect, concerned over all the details

  • Irritablility and getting into fights with your close relationships

  • Frequent cold symptoms


While all these symptoms can be caused by other health conditions (and please check with your physician if you are experiencing these symptoms) they are often associated with the increased stress of the holiday season. 


Tips for managing your stress during the holiday hustle

I always advise that these situations occur as learning opportunities for us to grow. It is good to have an action plan to help get through challenging times. Here are 4 action steps to take during this season to support your stress response: 


  • Prioritize sleep- get to bed, on most nights, before 10pm. Limit your screen time 30 minutes before bed. On nights you do not have parties, limit alcohol intake before bed. Sleep with an eye mask.


  • Movement- put on a warm coat and go move your body. Exercise is one of our best anti-stress agents. Find a friend to go walk with, get heavy things and lift them (safely), park farther away from the store entrance, stretch your body before bed. 


  • Breathing- this is a built in tool that you have access to all the time. 4 second inhale, 6 second exhale, all done through the nose. Practice doing this before getting out of the car and before heading into work. Consider getting up 10 minutes early to do a session of conscious breathing. It can be significant. 


  • Supplement with B-vitamins. Methyl-cobalamine (B12) and methyl-folate (B9)  are significant nutrients that are used to sustain the stress response. They do so by supporting the adrenal gland and its cortisol production as well as helping the body detoxify. Pyridoxal 5-phosphate (B6) will have a direct effect on lowering anxiety states during high levels of stress. Interestingly, B6 is our nation's number one nutrient deficiency.  My excellent, custom formulated stress-busting Methy-Detox Recovery B’s are available here. If you like mine, get it, otherwise find another one and start using it to give your body the support it needs during the holidays. 


Give thanks and gratitude

The holidays are a time of connection. Connection to our families, our friends and our higher powers. As a society, we have put value on material gifts more than intimate relationships. Everyone appreciates a thoughtful present but people are yearning for deep connection. This holiday season, consider prioritizing a health routine that does not burn you out. Use the word “no” more strategically.  Lead into each day with the gratitude that you have the opportunity to celebrate and share this life with the people around you; and to give thanks for everything that occurs.


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