Due to current events, the 2020 holidays will be challenging for many. Beyond the typical holiday triggers, people will be struggling with missing loved ones and longing for the times when family and friends could gather together. The emotional repercussions of loneliness, isolation, and stress that will result from this are profound.
In this article, I have provided self-care and holistic tips to support mental and physical health as the nation grapples with the changes surrounding this year’s festivities. Topics include:
- various integrative, behavioral, and holistic resources that promote wellness, decrease stress, and assist with emotional upliftment
- a highlighted section on essential oils, one of my favorite naturopathic medicine modalities to modulate brain physiology and mood
- access to “The Sacred Scents of the Season Essential Oils Webinar” (available to subscribers)
If you would like tools to help deal with loneliness and isolation more specifically, please see my previous article.*
Positive Actions to Promote Wellness and Decrease Stress
The following articles focus on behavioral approaches to keep one’s mindset in a more productive, positive place while navigating through stressors.**
The Mayo Clinic focuses on practical and rational tips for dealing with holiday stress. They consist of:
- being realistic about inevitable change
- planning ahead for preparations
- seeking support when needed
- implementing self-care practices
- practicing saying no
- setting aside differences
- sticking to a budget
Amen Clinics also shares seven action steps to get through the holidays in 2020 with less hassle. These include:
- focusing on what one can do versus ruminating over things in which one has no control over
- keeping select traditions alive
- making new traditions
- nourishing the body
- taking a break from family feuds
- connecting virtually
- avoiding alcohol
**There are some diet-culture phrases in these tips. Learn why I do not support this and am a Health at Every Size naturopathic doctor here.
A Relaxation Reset for the Brain- Mindfulness and Meditation
Both meditation and mindfulness have been shown to modulate brain signaling, physiology, and structure and promote the relaxation response. (R, R) Whereas meditation is a practice and a means to mindfulness, mindfulness is a quality and doesn’t necessarily include meditation.
Various studies have indicated that mindfulness can assist with impulse control, attention, human relationships, and empathy. (R, R) Johns Hopkins Medicine offers four mindful practices to decrease holiday stress. These involve:
- accepting imperfection
- keeping in mind what really counts, especially when hassles weigh you down
- responding with kindness
- rethinking resolutions to be more realistic
Meditation can help to tame mind clamor and assist with rewiring the brain circuitry to a state of calmness (via neuroplasticity). Studies have demonstrated regular meditators experience positive shifts in brain patterns, function, and structure as well as corresponding changes in behaviors and reactions. (R, R, R, R, R, R)
The Chopra Center offers 3 Meditations to Get You in the Holiday Spirit. There are specific practices each for cultivating kindness, gratitude, or joy. Taking time to sit in stillness, regardless of your religious affiliation, can help one to create space that soothes and centers the mind and body. It can also offer perspective to refocus on what matters most.
It is important to note that there is now evidence that certain people with a low parasympathetic set-point may not do as well with traditional meditative practices. For example, some with vagal tone disorders may do better with more stimulating, mindful, exercises. Find out more here.
A Naturopathic Doctor’s Favorite Essential Oils to Enhance Positive Emotions and Brain Health for the 2020 Holidays
Of course, I could not get through this post without mentioning essential oils. Below are links to essential oils blends and single oils intended to support emotional well-being and assist with making the holidays a little brighter.
Holiday Essential Oils Blends
- This post reviews the science of how a mixture of certain essential oils assists with feeling joyful and abundant.
- In this two-part series, I focus on a gratitude blend and explain more on how essential oils can change mood and mental state. You’ll discover why an essential oil really can make you feel grateful!
- With all that is going on around us, being hopeful can be challenging. This combination of essential oils may help one to experience this emotion more easily.
- This post reviews my favorite scents and holiday essential oils for promoting peaceful thoughts and uplifting the spirit. I highlight a blend of holiday cheer, the abundance blend, and an end the day recipe to promote sweet dreams and visions of dancing sugar plums.
Single Essential Oils that Promote Holiday Calm
- Frankincense oil is appropriately deemed the “King of Oils.” It is one of my favorite essential oils for grounding, enhancing defense and repair, neurological support, and balancing the mind-body. Its aroma infuses the surroundings with a sacred scent that reflects the spirit of the season. Along with myrrh oil, it is a well-known oil in Christian tradition. Many use this oil to support brain health, promote relaxation, and as a companion to mindfulness and meditation practices.
- Northern Lights Black Spruce oil brings the benefits of nature indoors. This oil contains phytoncides which have been studied to modulate cortisol and the immune system response under stress. Its crispy, outdoorsy aroma is perfect for this time of year. Other conifer and pine oils can also provide similar benefits.***
**Please note that some people are sensitive to phenol oils because they have an enzyme variant that impacts metabolism of them. If you have a sensitivity to breaking down phenols and salicylates, you may want to read more about this here and here.
Using Essential Oils Safety
Essential oils are a perfect complement to many integrative and conventional modalities.
For example, the joyful and gratitude essential oils blends are wonderful when used in conjunction with their accompanying meditative practices above. They can enhance emotional and brain wellness outcomes.
All of these blends and single oils are fine to be diffused in your favorite atomizer diffuser.
You may also wish to dilute one or two drops of frankincense oil in a carrier oil and apply it topically to the wrists, the back of the neck, and/or the feet to promote well-being throughout the day.
To learn more about how essential oils impact psychology, brain health and functioning, neurological patterns, and biochemistry click here.
Please see my database for more on safe use, quality control, and applications of essential oils.
Holiday Essential Oils Webinar:
Gold, Frankincense, & Myrrh-The Science Behind the Three Precious Presents & More Holiday Essential Oils Resources
As promised, my free holiday webinar is now posted and available to my subscribers. The password was sent out with this week’s e-blast.
If you’d like even more resources, this article contains a summary of all past holiday essential oils resources.
If you missed the cut-off, I hope you can join us next time. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on the next exclusive webinar and/or articles.
Mental Health Resources
*If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and/or are suicidal, please seek professional mental health support:
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) — Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Crisis Text Line — Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor
- Lifeline Crisis Chat — Chat online with a specialist who can provide emotional support, crisis intervention and suicide prevention services at www.crisischat.org
Other Helpful Resources
Below are some of the highlights of the many free resources on this website:
- Four Essential Oils Blends for Supporting the Mind-Body and Easing Tension
- VIDEO: How Your Brain and Body Suffer with Too Much Stress & Naturopathic Medicine Tips for Calming the Mind and Relieving Overwhelm
- Video Recap: Essential Oils to Ease the Stress & Anxiety of Back to School
- The Importance of Fun, Music, & Play for Mental Health
- Video Recap: Essential Oils for Brain and Mental Health & Soothing Stress
- 10 Natural Ways to Relieve Stress and Calm the Mind-Body During Trying Times
- Video: A Naturopathic Doctor’s Approach to Thyroid Health Using Essential Oils: Video Recap & Additional Resources
Additional Supportive Techniques & Tools
- The Tapping Solution, A Technique to Lower Cortisol and Reduce Stress- Podcast interview by Dr. Kara Fitzgerald with Nick Ortner.
- Stress management tips and resources
Disclaimer: This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
According to experts and the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no approved standard of care treatment, cure, or preventative for COVID-19. Supportive measures and containment are in full force as a result. Please see the CDC website and your state’s website for more information and updates. They also state when to contact your physician related to symptoms and travel history, exposures. Please read my more detailed article on this subject here.
This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
Thanks Pixabay and Canva.