The holidays are a time of great fun, but they can also be a time of great stress. As you run from event to event, overscheduling yourself and overindulging in delicious foods and drinks, it’s easy to feel run-down.
But experts agree there are things you can do to boost your energy to help you get through the holiday hurdles.
Kelly Devine Rickert, a Franciscan Wellcare registered dietitian and health coach, said it’s important to start each day with fiber and protein to reduce sugar spikes. Have a whole grain English muffin with peanut butter or oatmeal with fruit and nuts.
She also suggests drinking more water and less caffeine, especially when you hit the afternoon slump.
“Instead of drinking or eating something sugary or caffeinated, try 16 ounces of cold water with a healthy snack,” she says. “Try yogurt with some berries, a protein bar, a 100-calorie pack of nuts, or an apple with some nut butter.”
Leslie Gillham, promotions manager at Baum’s Natural Foods, which has stores in Munster, Merrillville and St. John, said natural supplements can help you keep stress levels under control during the holidays.
She recommends L-Theanine, an amino acid made from green tea, to help with anxiety and stress levels.
“It helps with anxiety and stress levels but doesn’t make you groggy or tired. It helps you stay focused and calm,” she says.
Another popular supplement to help with energy and stress levels is a B-complex multivitamin or B-12.
Those supplements don't react with medications, and most have specific doses available for children, she said.
Gilliam also recommends fresh juices, such as those available at Baum's juice bar.
“Fresh, natural juices can help with energy levels,” she says. “We have juices targeted toward energy, fat burning, or adding protein. They’ll help you feel full, so you’re not snacking all day. Others can help you detox after a party. Our juice called 'The Green Surprise' is called that because people are surprised it tastes so good. It’s like taking a fresh-made liquid multivitamin.”
Brandon Wadas is a certified personal trainer at BodyMax Fitness Center in Merrillville and a professional natural bodybuilder and diet coach. He also owns Iron Management Nutrition Systems.
He suggests that managing the holiday stress works best when you make a to-do list and plan ahead. Getting enough sleep is also important.
“Although many people think they can perform on little sleep, if we get too little, it can have a negative effect on our immune system, increase cortisol (stress) levels, and decrease cognitive function,” he says.
It’s important, too, to use caffeine responsibly.
“Although caffeine is a great tool to help increase mental focus, far too many people abuse it. You can actually build a tolerance to caffeine over time,” he says. “Use your caffeine intake responsibly, limiting yourself to a small amount when you feel drained.”
It’s also important to eat responsibly and stay away from detoxes and fad diets.
“These type of drastic methods end up causing more harm than good and can drain you of the energy you need to function properly,” he says.
Exercise also helps.
“Although the weather is getting colder and it is tempting to go into winter hibernation mode, working out at least 30 minutes per day will increase your energy levels and boost your immunity,” he says.