Keeping Holiday Stress in Check
It’s that time of year when, no matter what we do, we often suffer some aspect of stress. For some, winter weather may tax the spirit and drain our energy. For others, it may be the stress of preparing for, cooking for, and socializing at holiday gatherings. Yet others may be encountering the holidays while struggling with family illness or feuds which stress and burden the heart. One holiday on top of another, there hardly is time (or daylight) to do all that we need to do, and then darkness hits and it feels like it is time for bed. How can we make it through the next month of celebration and another couple months of darkness when the demands on our lives feel so challenging already?
Nutritional Support for Well-Being
It is important to try to get regular exposure to daylight and exercise as well as adequate rest during the winter months. Just as many animals hibernate, the human internal clock is dialed in to sleep more when there is more darkness.1 This doesn’t change the fact that many of us still have to fit the same amount of things into our day, but it may ease the worry we feel about being more tired in the darker months! Listening to the body’s clock helps to restore our energy for the times we need it. Supplemental support with a quality multivitamin or B complex vitamins can help the body to get through the winter slump. Many of the B vitamins as well as vitamin D and C support a balanced mood, which is challenged by the winter for many.2,3,4 Vitamin C and B complex vitamins support adrenal function and neurotransmitter metabolism,5,6 while vitamin D and vitamin C support healthy immune system function.7,8,9
Support from Adaptogens
Adaptogens are substances, primarily herbs, which help the body adapt and respond to stress. Many of these herbs are roots, such as the well-known ginseng and licorice. Other adaptogens include rhodiola, maca, ashwagandha, and schisandra berry. Adaptogenic herbs have a history of use in many cultures for thousands of years. Adaptogens have an effect on the body’s hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and also can impact mood, memory, concentration, sleep, and immune system function.10,11 Many of these herbs also have antioxidant effects.12 Adaptogens, particularly in combination, can have a tonic effect – supporting increased exertion when needed, and helping the body to turn off when the work is done.13 There also are adaptogenic herbs such as shatavari, an Ayurvedic herb, and yohimbe with more specific “female” or “male” effects, supporting normal hormonal balance and reproductive function.14,15,16 Many individuals find increased motivation and energy throughout the day with the use of adaptogenic herbs.
Keeping Things Calm!
Finally, in addition to supporting the energy needed to make it through the holidays (and winter!), many are looking for healthy approaches to help them wind down in the evening and throughout the day. A combination of gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) with L-theanine is an excellent choice, as the non-sedating yet relaxing effects can provide benefit throughout the day in times of stress or anxiety. Both GABA and L-theanine support increased alpha wave activity in the brain,17,18 and have been shown to reduce the physiological and emotional response to stress.19,20,21 L-theanine also has been observed to increase expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF),22 a protein that increases neural plasticity and promotes neurogenesis,23 possibly helping you to remember the long-winded story from your beloved great aunt or uncle told after a long, belly-filling dinner.
To learn more, read on at:
- Boost Your Immunity & Banish Winter Blues
- What is YOUR Multivitamin Really Delivering?
- Vitamin C vs. Vitamin C with R-Lipoic Acid: Which Best Fits Different Clinical Settings?
- NanoMojo: A Liposomal Adaptogenic Tonic Forged From A Global Selection of Medicinal-Grade, Potent Herbs
- Stress Support 101: GABA and L-Theanine: The Fast-Acting Stress and Anxiety Antidote
2 Amr M. Efficacy of vitamin C as an adjunct to fluoxetine therapy in pediatric major depressive
disorder: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Nutr J. 2013 Mar;12(1):1. View Full Paper
3 Frandsen TB, Pareek M, Hansen JP et al. Vitamin D supplementation for treatment of seasonal affective symptoms in healthcare professionals: a double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial
BMC Res Notes. 2014; 7: 52 View Full Paper
9 Ginde AA, Mansbach JM, Camargo CA Jr. Association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level and upper respiratory tract infection in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Feb 23;169(4):384-90. View Full Paper
10 Panossian A, Wikman G. Evidence-based efficacy of adaptogens in fatigue, and molecular mechanisms related to their stress-protective activity. Curr Clin Pharmacol. 2009 Sep;4(3):198-219. View Abstract
11 Panossian A, Wikman G. Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010 Jan 19;3(1):188-224. View Full Paper
14 Velavan S, Nagulendran KR, Mahesh R, Begum VH. Phcog Rev.: Plant Review The Chemistry, Pharmacological and Therapeutic Applications of Asparagus racemosus-A Review. Pharmacognosy Reviews. 2007 Jul;1(2):350-60. View Full Paper
17 Yoto A, Murao S, Motoki M, et al. Oral intake of γ-aminobutyric acid affects mood and activities of central nervous system during stressed condition induced by mental tasks. Amino Acids. 2012;43(3):1331–1337. View Abstract
18 Kakuda T, Nozawa A, Sugimoto A, et al. Inhibition by Theanine of binding of [3H]AMPA, [3H]kainate, and [3H]MDL 105,519 to glutamate receptors. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2002;66(12):2683–2686.