By Jared M. Skowron, ND

It’s in the stores. It’s on television. It’s on your phone, and it’s on your mind. The holidays are here! The shopping, the time with family, the decorations, the cooking, the stress… oh yes, the stress. Our bodies are only able to handle so much.  When you add the stress of the holiday season to the regular hustle and bustle of life, you can push yourself beyond the limits and end up grumpy and exhausted, unable to enjoy the festivities.

Don’t let yourself drift away with the stress of the holiday season! Be proactive and “anchor your adrenals!”

Fight or flight. No phrase sums up our response to any stressor better. When we experience a stressful situation, our brain sends distress signals to different parts of our brain and body. The adrenal glands respond by pumping epinephrine through the bloodstream. Our heart beats faster, more oxygen flows through the body and breathing becomes rapid. Our body is preparing us to fight the stressful situation, or duck and take cover.

The fight-or-flight response is vital when we encounter life-threatening circumstances that are usually mitigated with time; however, constant exposure to modern day compounded and confounded stressors may lead to a point of no return.. When we crack (and yes, we all have a tipping point, a boiling temperature, a straw that broke the camel’s back) we either go into a fit of rage, or shut down and run away to hide and recover.

It’s important to remember that these reactions aren’t bad, but they are a sign. They are an indication that we have overextended ourselves and we need to rest. They are a sign that if we don’t change our ways, we will continue down a path of ill health. An over adaptation of our stress response can result in a depleted immune system, poor digestion, hormonal changes, and a worsening of mood, temper and anxiety.

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The biology of our stress response is primarily controlled by a hormone called cortisol which is made from our adrenal glands. The more stress we experience, the more cortisol is utilized to help us handle the pressure. Depending on how many years we’ve been stressed, this will put us in an elevated or deficient state of cortisol. The assembly line of hormone production, including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, etc., can be depleted from a large stress response.

So as you are adrift in the sea of stress and the waves are tossing you hither and yon, throw out your anchor! Yes, anchor your adrenals. Stabilize and gain control. Weather the storm until the holiday storm has passed.

The first step is analysis. Monitoring your physical and mental symptoms is the first step to anchoring your adrenals during stressful times. Consult your physician to get your hormones tested to determine if your cortisol levels are deficient or in excess. Other hormones that can be monitored for stress response include DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and you can also examine thyroid function. These hormones can be analyzed through testing your blood, urine, or saliva depending on the test.

The next analysis steps you can do on your own. Physically, you can measure your temperature every day. Changes in cortisol can cause erratic changes to temperature. Mentally, track your goals and things you want to accomplish. Create a schedule to plan when you want to accomplish these tasks. Delegating some actions to others can help you feel sane and alleviate potential stressors. As you complete these tasks, mark them off your schedule/calendar. Seeing your accomplishments at a glance will help you feel calmer, as sometimes the worry and anticipation are worse than the actual event.

Once you’ve completed your stress and adrenal analysis and testing, there are a multitude of natural treatments that can help you feel better and less stressed.


Diet

Eat consistently. Skipping meals will lower cortisol. Plus, 1 in 16 people have a genetic mutation in the acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (ACADS) gene may not allow fatty acids break down and turn into energy. We recognize this as being “hangry,” or the result of being angry because you are hungry.

Include lots of lean protein (turkey, chicken, eggs) in your diet, and enjoy refined sugar sparingly (for more information on the dangers of sugar watch this video “link to hyperactivity video”). Increase your consumption of complex carbohydrates (beans, fresh fruits, vegetables) and healthy fats (coconut or flax oil, avocados) for sustained energy.  This will help you not feel hungry within an hour of eating a simple carb like a snack bar.

Exerciseexercise

Who has the time? You do!  It only takes 10 minutes a day to incorporate valuable activity into your daily schedule. Take a jog, do some push ups, sprint up the flight of stairs, or go for a walk.  Make the commitment to get up and move.  You’ll feel the change immediately.

Supplements

Consult your healthcare practitioner about which supplements are right for you based on your hormonal status. Common therapies for “Stress Endurance” include vitamin B5, herbs such as Ashwagandha and ginseng, and adrenal glandular supplements. .

Anchoring your adrenals will help you feel happier so you can sit down and enjoy the holidays. Analyze your hormones, keep your task lists realistic, eat a healthy diet, squeeze in a little time to exercise and you will breeze through this stressful time.  Remember to keep calm and anchor on!


References:

  1. http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response
  2. http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/stress

dr-skowron

Jared Skowron, ND, is one of the country’s leading experts in natural therapies for children with special needs, with an emphasis in pediatric autism and ADHD. He is the best-selling author of 100 Natural Remedies for Your Child. He is the co-founder of the Pediatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians, founder of the Pediatric and Autism Clinic at University of Bridgeport, and founder of the supplement company, Spectrum Awakening. Dr. Skowron also serves on the advisory boards of Autism Hope Alliance and Natural Practitioner.

 


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.