Essential Supplements to Support Holiday Stress‡
It’s that time of year again! Holiday lights are glowing, snow is falling and horses are towing along sleighs filled with families enjoying the spectacle of the holiday season! We can now enjoy cozy winter nights cuddled up by the fire and it’s the perfect time of year to unplug and reconnect with those we hold most dear: our friends and family.
But did you know for many, the holiday season may be one of the most stressful times of the year? According to a 2022 survey by the American Psychiatric Association, 50% of those surveyed are concerned about affording gifts for the holidays, while 39% are concerned about affording meals. The consensus is an overall increase in holiday-associated stress from previous years.1
We know that holidays are meant to be a time of joy. However, stressors outside your control are possible and can take a toll on anyone dealing with the upcoming season and all the demands it entails. So, let’s talk about the essential nutrients and lifestyle factors to help manage occasional stress. ‡
Sleep and Stress
Before we dive into nutrients to support occasional stress, I want to discuss the importance of getting a good night’s rest and how much it impacts the body’s ability to manage stress.
Stress has long been known to lead to poor sleep or even sleepless nights. However, there are many things you can do to feel calmer and more relaxed. Try practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing and journaling and see for yourself what works best for you.2
Another good tip for healthy sleep is to create a good sleep environment. This includes eliminating as many stressors from your sleep environment as possible. Examples of sleep stressors include alcohol and caffeine, blue light, and noise from televisions and cell phones. It’s beneficial to promote a sense of calm by taking a bath or shower before sleep.3
Sleep hygiene is crucial. Maintaining proper sleep hygiene and adding healthy nutrients to support quality sleep can help you manage stress effectively – especially during the holidays. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the average adult requires between seven to nine hours of sleep for optimal health. It also mentions that adolescents generally require more sleep, about eight to ten hours per night.4 Getting adequate sleep may dampen the stress-related mental strains, a benefit during the stressful holiday season. ‡
Nutrients to Support Sleep‡
In addition to lifestyle practices to help promote sleep and relaxation, there are nutrients and functional ingredients we can supplement with to help support the onset of sleep and manage stress. We know Melatonin helps facilitate the onset of sleep and sleep efficiency.5 What’s more, nutrients such as glycine and Magnesium help support muscle relaxation and a healthy sleep cycle.6‡
The combination of time-tested herbs like valerian, passionflower, chamomile, lemon balm and hops, found in our Best-Rest Formula, may act to calm and relax the central nervous system.‡
Pure Encapsulations® Daily Pure Pack - Healthy Sleep provides two capsules of our Best-Rest Formula and one capsule of our Magnesium glycinate to help enhance your sleep quality and help you feel rested and refreshed. ‡
How to Manage Daily Stress with Lifestyle
While I spend a lot of time discussing how to help manage stress, it’s important to remember that stress is a natural factor that protects us from managing and dealing with challenging situations. When it becomes unmanageable, we need that extra help not to feel overwhelmed.
One great way you can focus on managing stress is by forward thinking. Forward-thinking is a process where you can help manage the feeling of being overwhelmed and stressed by planning to help better prepare you for what’s to come. It’s been found that people who learn to think forward are better able to modify their behaviors in stressful times, from being reactionary or worrying about the future to a more flexible and measured response with greater awareness of the present moment.7
There are plenty of lifestyle factors we can practice to help manage stress, especially around the holidays. Some helpful practices to help manage stress in your lifestyle include exercising - think about jogging or taking a brisk walk. At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity weekly exercise is important for overall health and stress management.8
Another great example is practicing stretching while you take a mindfulness break. When you’re feeling stressed, your muscles tend to tense up, so stretching and relaxing those muscles will help you relax on a physiological level. Plus, practicing mindfulness while stretching is a great way to stay in tune with your body and mind.
Why is mindfulness important? Mindfulness helps bring you back to the present and teaches you how to silence those negative or overwhelming thoughts. Before you know it, you’ll be using the strategy of positive self-talk to help encourage your capability and help limit those negative beliefs or negative self-talk.8
Reducing loud noises and playing soothing music are other lifestyle changes to help manage your stress. Loud noises have the potential to trigger stressors and detract from your ability to be mindful. On the other hand, soothing music can elicit a relaxing response. Being present and mindful while listening to music is one way to change your lifestyle to help manage stress. You may be swapping your favorite holiday carol for something more calming.8
Nutrients and Botanicals for Daily Stress
Now that we’ve discussed the importance of sleep, let’s talk about the nutrients appropriate to help manage the stressors that pop up daily during this stressful time.‡Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is a popular and widely used Ayurvedic herb. It contains bioactive compounds called withanolides that are important in mental health benefits.9,10 Ashwagandha has been shown to moderate occasional stress, support memory and provide neuroprotection by scavenging free radicals.11,12,13‡Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa monnieri has been used for centuries, originating from ancient India, where it was used to support stress. (Disclaimer) Research has found that Bacopa monnieri may help support memory and cognitive function and support the ability to deal with stress.14‡Rhodiola and L-Tyrosine
Rhodiola, an adaptogenic herb, moderates mild fatigue under stressful conditions and supports short-term memory and concentration.‡
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid with potential applications in promoting cognitive function and memory under stressful conditions.15 ‡
Our Daily Stress Formula contains 200 mg of ashwagandha, bacopa monnieri and rhodiola and 250 mg of the amino acid l-tyrosine plus other nutrients to help benefit and support mental relaxation during times of stress. ‡
Stress and Its Effect on Caloric Intake
I’m sure you’ve heard your friends, family (and maybe even yourself) say that you still carry some of the leftover holiday weight once the holidays have passed. This concept goes beyond just the increased access to rich and sugary foods or your favorite baked goods. Research has found a trend of weight gain amongst adults starting the last week of November and prevalent until the second week of January.16
We already know that many people are dealing with holiday-related stress during this time, so let’s talk a little about why that baseline stress you’ve been dealing with this season may contribute to your sudden caloric intake spike.
If you’ve noticed that you may demonstrate the habit of emotionally eating when stressed, that’s a normal response to the hormones firing inside you. This is because the adrenal glands release cortisol when you’re feeling stressed. Cortisol may stimulate your appetite, leading to a desire to snack or eat.17
Usually, when stress subsides, cortisol levels should go back to normal. If your cortisol levels don’t normalize, this may lead to cortisol remaining elevated and ultimately keep triggering that motivation to eat. Exercise is a great lifestyle factor found to help dampen cortisol and ultimately decrease appetite stimulation. Still, if you want to maintain healthy cortisol levels during stressful times, our Cortisol Calm is a great option to keep in the back of your mind! 17 ‡
Goodbye Stress and Hello Happy Holidays
A healthy combination of lifestyle factors such as meditation, quality of sleep, deep breathing and exercise with healthy nutrients from Pure Encapsulations® is a few ways to help manage stress around the holidays. It may just be what your body is looking for to get back to what matters most – enjoying time with your family, embracing your loved ones on those cozy winter nights and celebrating in this season’s holiday cheer! ‡
- American Psychiatric Association -. (2022, December 1). https://www.psychiatry.org/News-room/News-Releases/As-Holiday-Season-Begins-Americas-Stress-Rises
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2016, May). Relaxation Techniques for Health., https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/relaxation-techniques-for-health
- Summer, J. (2022, April 14). Eight Health Benefits of Sleep. Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/benefits-of-sleep
- Watson, A. Current Sports Medicine Reports 16(6):p 413-418
- Eckerberg B, et. al. Chronobiol Int.2012 Nov;29(9):1239-48.
- Bannai M, et al. Front Neurol.2012 Apr 18;3:61
- Worthen, M., & Cash, E. (2021). Stress Management. PubMed; StatPearls Publishing. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30020672/
- Godman, H. (2022, March 1). Top ways to reduce daily stress. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/top-ways-to-reduce-daily-stress
- Wankhede S, et al. J Int Soc Sports Nutr.2015 Nov 25;12:43.
- Auddy B, et al. JANA. 2008 11(1): 50-6.
- Mikolai J, et al. J Altern Complement Med.2009 Apr;15(4):423-30.
- Chandrasekhar K, et al. Indian J Psychol Med.2012 Jul-Sep; 34(3): 255-262.
- Bhattacharya SK, et al. 2000 Dec;7(6):463-9.
- Roodenrys S, et al. 2002 Aug;27(2):279-81.
- Darbinyan V, et al. 2000 Oct;7(5):365-71.
- Díaz-Zavala, R. G., et al. (2017). Effect of the Holiday Season on Weight Gain: A Narrative Review. Journal of Obesity, 2017, 2085136. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/2085136
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2021, February 15). Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-stress-causes-people-to-overeat