Staying Healthy and Reducing Stress During the Holidays

By Trevor Holly Cates, ND, Golden Door, Waldorf Astoria Park City

The holidays are upon us and busy home, social and work schedules can lead to excess stress and anxiety. Combined with cold and flu season this time of year, it is important to keep your immune system strong to prevent getting sick at a time when nobody wants to feel tired, feverish or congested. Prepare yourself this year with natural remedies that cand help you keep on schedule for a happy holiday season.

An important factor in keeping your health and your wits together is getting a good night’s sleep. Sleeplessness can lead to daytime irritability, drowsiness, difficulty concentrating and immune system suppression. If you are tossing and turning, there are things you can do to help relax into sleep naturally.

While we generally enjoy the holidays, we all know they can be stressful. Instead of struggling through the holidays, enjoy a healthy, low-stress holiday season this year with the following tips. 

Tips for reducing stress and improving sleep:

  • Avoid excess food and drinks before bedtime. Aim for an early dinner and choose fresh fruit over sugary treats.
  • Instead of a cup of coffee or hot toddy after dinner, enjoy a cup of herbal tea to help you relax in preparation for sleep -- hops, passionflower, lemon balm, chamomile and valerian are a few herbs traditionally used to help promote relaxation.
  • Create a calm sleep environment by ensuring your bedroom is dark, quiet and comfortable.
  • For a sedating effect, you can listen to soothing music or take a warm bath with a few drops of chamomile or lavender oil and 1 – 2 cups of Epsom salt.
  • Try to incorporate daily stress-management techniques such as meditation or yoga.
Tips for protecting yourself from the common cold and flu:
  • With all of the hand shakes at holiday parties, be sure to wash your hands often with soap and water and try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth since that is often how the viruses enter the body.
  • Improve your nutrition by keeping your intake of fresh fruits and veggies high and hold off on excess sweets and alcoholic drinks.
  • Take a high quality daily multi vitamin and mineral supplement to ensure adequate nutrition.
  • Participate in moderate daily exercise (30 minutes a day), which has been shown to help boost the immune system. But avoid intense exercise since the body may perceive it as additional stress.
  • Minimize your intake of alcohol, sugary and processed foods during the cold and flu season.
  • Considering taking immune boosting supplements such as probiotics, elderberry syrup and vitamin D
Following these tips can enhance your immune system and reduce your stress this holiday season, but sometimes our bodies need extra help. If you are continuously stressed, have a chronic illness or catch every cold and flu, you may have a nutritional deficiency, adrenal insufficiency or another underlying cause that is preventing you from achieving your optimal health. For example, nutrient deficiencies in B12, vitamin D and iron can reduce your ability to fight off infections as well as maintain emotional balance.

Naturopathic physicians are trained in both conventional and natural medicines anthrough comprehensive evaluations and testing, they can help unveil your obstacles to healing. Using natural medicines, naturopathic physicians can assist you in restoring your health and vitality. If your symptoms are not improving, look for a naturopathic physician in your area to assist you on your path for a healthy holiday season and New Year.

Dr. Trevor Holly Cates received her naturopathic medical degree from the National College of Natural Medicine in 2000. Dr. Cates is the Naturopathic Physician and Nutrition and Wellness Coordinator at the Golden Door Spa at the Waldorf Astoria Park City. In addition to private practice in Park City, Dr. Cates was twice appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to California’s Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine Advisory Council and serves on the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians board of directors. She is a frequent lecturer and writes articles on natural medicine for various local and national publications.

Visit our Find a Doctor page to find a naturopathic doctor in your area.