By: Jillian Tuchman, MS, RD, Head of Nutrition
I tend to get a lot of questions this time of year about how to prevent and deal with stress, and between holiday parties, family obligations, travel, and about a billion other things, that’s probably no surprise. Stress can throw off your health, impacting everything from your skin to your digestion, so it’s good to be prepared to manage it. It’s one of the best things you can do for your health this - or any! - time of year.
Even if you only have five free minutes to soak, use them. A warm bath loaded up with epsom salts or your favorite essential oils (or both! #treatyoself) is one of the most relaxing things you can do for yourself. Light a candle, ditch your phone, and let your muscles relax. You’ll feel pretty much like a superhero when you’re done.
Friendships are the only relationships in life that are completely voluntary and because of that, these are the ones we tend to neglect when we’re feeling pressed for time (or sanity). But amount of scientific evidence correlating supportive friendships with longer, happier lives and increased resilience is astounding. Rather than view spending time with friends a luxury, consider it mandatory. And if you only have 20-30 minutes to spare, embrace that: call up your best friend or make a quick detour on your way elsewhere for a quick hug and chat session.
I consider magnesium to be the unsung hero when it comes to minerals. It’s essential for all of us, but more than half of Americans don’t get enough and it doesn’t help that both alcohol and caffeine can deplete our sources. Magnesium is required for hundreds of biochemical processes and it supports bone health, helps muscles relax, and supports a healthy response to stress. I always suggest taking magnesium before bedtime because many people report feeling more relaxed after taking it.
Shocking, we know! We’re definitely not suggesting you ditch it all together, but carving out some time — even just 15 minutes — during the day when you leave your phone is crucial to managing stress. We live in a hyperconnected world and the constant notifications can be the source of enormous stress and anxiety. Challenge yourself to go for a walk without your phone. Turn off notifications when you’re socializing and focus on actually being with your friends. You’ll be surprised by how quickly these simple strategies relieve the stress you’re carrying around.
Ashwagandha and Rhodiola both belong to a class of herbs referred to as adaptogens, which means they help improve your body’s ability to adapt to stress by physiologically supporting the body’s return to homeostasis from the heightened biochemical state that stress can create. Simply put, these herbs help your body get its zen back.
Ashwagandha tends to be a bit more calming, while rhodiola tends to be a bit more stimulating, so adding in some ashwagandha to your bedtime routine might help ease you into a more restful sleep, while rhodiola in the AM could help promote a more focused, less rattled day.