RECOVER FROM HOLIDAY STRESS & OVEREATING
Naturally With Eastern Medicine
Holidays are stressful, and everyone knows it. Add in the overeating, and most of us are a hot mess come January. Thankfully, we’ve got some natural tips to help get you back to (and possibly better than) your normal self.
Let’s get started.
Eastern medicine practices are rooted in a holistic philosophy. From herbal remedies to energy work, most of the healing modalities in TCM are natural, focused on organic well-being. Even simple deep breathing techniques are taken from traditional Chinese medicine.
The word “medicine” can mean many things, but to us, it translates to healing. As we all know, healing comes in thousands of shapes and forms. Here are four natural ways to relieve stress from the holiday season based on Eastern medicine.
First, Ditch The Stress & Balance Your Energy
Our entire universe is comprised of energy. That means our bodies- organs and all- are also made up of energy. It’s a scientific fact, not just a New Age musing. In Eastern medicine, the terms used are Yin and Yang, but rather than focusing on the terms, think about the context.
There are a lot of things that can impact our energy – work, sleep, friends, family, stress, seasons, weather, environment, health, etc. You could have all of those, but one be good and it’ll still ruin your day.
Having balance in all aspects of our lives is an exchange of yin and yang. Sometimes, like when we’re focused on a work project, we need yang to power us through, but other times, like on Sunday evenings, we need yin to chill us out.
When your qi (energy) is balanced, there is a natural rhythmic flow throughout your being. This contributes to good physical and mental health. You’ll feel good on the inside and out. After a stressful holiday season, not to mention a pandemic, it can be hard to find balance, but here are a few suggestions..
If Stressed, Decompress
Holidays are stressful because there is so much pressure to do this or that. There’s the food prep, the decorating, managing children, dealing with family members; the list is endless.
This may sound simple, but do less. We often think we “should” do the dishes or “should” do XYZ, but what you should do is what equals the happiest you. Those dishes don’t NEED to be done right now. It’s not only ok to give yourself grace, it’s healthier if you do. Prioritize what is important, and do your best for the rest.
Try a Deep Breathing Meditation
Meditation is one of the foundational practices within Eastern medicine. It’s also become an essential wellness technique in the Western world. Simply sitting with the self and paying close attention to the breath is a powerful stress-relief tool, which is just one of the many reasons why meditation has stuck around for centuries.
To alleviate tension this holiday season, practice deep breathing for at least 10 minutes. The longer, the better. Close the eyes, relax the jaw and body, feel your ribs expand in a deep breath, and exhale softly through the nose. All the while, your conscious focus never leaves the breath. For more details on breathing options, check out this blog!
Get Your Qi Flowing
As you know by now, qi is the vital energy that circulates throughout our bodies. Sometimes the best way to relax and release anxiety is to get moving. Exercise is not necessarily Eastern medicine, but the basic idea of using exercise to ignite qi is definitely TCM-based.
Daily movement will boost your energy levels, reduce stress, reduce anxiety, minimize depression, and contribute to an overall healthier you. If your pesky uncle pushes your last button, go outside and do some jumping jacks instead of blowing a holiday fuse.
Overeating During the Holidays Is a Given
The holiday season is when most people overindulge and eat too much food. There’s something about Thanksgiving and Christmas that makes everyone want to churn out meals left and right.
While you might totally enjoy your aunt’s buttery mac-n-cheese recipe, it might come back to haunt you if you overeat. Trust us; we’ve been there before.
Before you start gobbling down every yummy dish in sight, remember that you are what you eat. Traditional Chinese medicine teaches us that everything we consume (foods, liquids, substances, etc.) is “essentially” who we are- physically.
Eating too much can lead to abdominal bloating, indigestion, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, and all those other wonderful symptoms that come with scarfing down turkey or tofurky. Traditional Chinese medicine calls this “food stagnation.” Overeating causes a buildup in one’s digestive tract, so taking care of your gut health is essential.
Balance Your Plate
If you only eat low-energy junk foods, you’ll feel exactly like that- sluggish and blah. Now, we’re not saying you shouldn’t treat yourself this holiday season. However, eating a well-rounded diet always helps.
Balance your plate with as many veggies, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats as possible. Drinking alcohol can lead to overeating as well, so maybe ditch that third glass of wine.
Drink Tea or Water Beforehand
One of the simplest ways to prevent eating too much food is drinking a liquid before you chow down. Drink one 12oz glass of water at least 30 minutes before your meal.
You can also do the same with tea, which would be more relevant to Eastern medicine. An herbal tea, hot or cold, can work wonders for the body while preventing overeating at the same time.
Take Eastern Medicine Herbs
Taking TCM herbs can help regulate the digestive system, moderating digestive enzymes that help break down food. If you feel bloated from overeating, try herbs that boost digestion, like hawthorn, medicated leaven, radish seed, pinellia rhizome, poria, tangerine peel, and forsythia fruit. Cinnamon bark is also excellent for digestion plus strengthening the spleen. Or, you can take a combination tincture, like digestwell.
Acupuncture Can Relieve Holiday Stress
When in doubt, treat yourself to an acupuncture session for a little rest & relaxation. Acupuncture is a staple in Eastern medicine. It’s been around for centuries and, thus, has been perfected over time.
While acupuncture might not be able to cure your insatiable appetite for pumpkin pie, it can greatly combat holiday stress.
The feeling of acupuncture is similar to a massage in the sense that your body releases pressure. Endorphins are also released in the process. These endorphins are natural stress relievers, so you’ll feel like a brand-new person once you hop off the acupuncture table.
Acupuncture Is a Great Energy Balancer Too
Since acupuncture stimulates blood circulation and minimizes cortisol levels, it boosts oxygen flow as well. One of the reasons why acupuncture is so prevalent in Eastern medicine is because of its direct interaction with energy medians.
When energy medians are stimulated, qi flows more efficiently throughout the body. That means your vital organs can receive more energy, boosting their function. You’ll also feel “charged” as if Yang and Yin are reaching a perfect balance within. It’s just a really calming, healthy feeling you have to experience for yourself.
There is peace among the chaos of holidays. Eastern medicine philosophy is full of game-changing stress relief practices that one might not naturally gravitate toward. There are even herbal remedies that help with digestion when you overindulge (it’s ok, we know that last bite was worth it).
So, before you panic or stress eat, take a deep breath and relax. The holiday season comes and goes, so you’ll be back in the swing of things before you know it. Recover in the ways that work best for you.