Ditch the Holiday Flare-Up: 9 Weird Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

Why do we always accept that a flare-up is inevitable during the holiday season?  We rush and we stress and we give up sleep and we hurry to get everything done.  A holiday Crohn’s or Colitis flare-up is just par for the course, right?

Like all good moms, we read books, spend countless hours online searching for answers and talk to our friends about how to get through the holidays with an ounce of sanity and a healthy gut. We hear the answers loud and clear…take up yoga, learn to meditate, use stress management techniques.

But what if you’re like most moms and you don’t have time to learn a new coping skill during the holiday hustle and bustle?

Well, get ready to enjoy the holidays without the inevitable flare-up because I’ve got you covered.

I’m going to share with you some unusual tips and techniques that will actually do a number on the stress circuit going round and round in your body and it has nothing to do with meditation or yoga.  In fact, you don’t have to learn a new skill at all AND I’m going to show you that it doesn’t even take a ton of time to say goodbye to the holiday stress flare-up.

So, what’s the secret to getting rid of the holiday manic-panic attack that always makes our gut struggles flare? Read on to find out.

*Quick side note: There are several links used in this blog post.  These are mentioned as a jumping off point only.  In no way, shape or form am I giving medical advice.  Just mom to mom advice for you to share with your doctor. Always follow your doctor’s advice first. Also, I am in no way affiliated with any of the products I mention.  I get no kickbacks or commissions if you click on the links or purchase the products.  Again, it’s just some good old-fashioned mom to mom sharing. 

#1 Blow Up a Balloon

We’ve got kids.  We definitely have balloons lying around the house.  Here’s why the balloon blowing stress buster works: when we get anxious and irritable in a stressful moment, we automatically start taking quick, shallow breaths.  Most of the time, we don’t even know we’re doing it. Blowing up a balloon, however, takes deep prolonged breath.  Several of them in fact.  And that’s why it works in a moment of hair pulling chaos.  Plus, this stress buster is just fun.  Less stress, happy gut. Amen mom friend!

How to do it: Keep a balloon in your purse, in the kitchen, in the bathroom… you get the idea.  That way you’ll have them at your fingertips when the need to release some hot air arises (just a little balloon blowing humor ; ) Of course, if you’ve got little ones you’ll want to make sure the balloons are out of reach, but within your reach. Blow the balloon as far as it will go, release the air in the balloon and reserve the right to repeat as often as needed. Make sure you’re breathing from your diaphragm when you blow to help this stress buster work best for you.

When to use: Immediate stress buster. Use when the s*%t hits the fan.

#2 Pack on the Vitamin C

Have you heard of cortisol?  It’s the stress hormone in our body.  When stress is up, cortisol is up.  This is great in a fight or flight scenario when we need to get away fast, but not so good for an average day in the life of a mom. Vitamin C can help get rid of the cortisol response in our body when we feel stressed. This is capitol H HUGE because when we have chronic high levels of cortisol in our body, our digestive system is directly impacted.  Having extra vitamin C in our body during the holidays means less stress and a happy gut. Yas!!

How to do it: There’s loads of ways to get your vitamin C.  Oranges, kiwi, lemons, peppers and strawberries for starters.  Another way is to take a supplement.  You can try capsule form, but for gut struggling moms like us, I often recommend powders like this one because it’s easy to absorb. This is a superior quality vitamin C supplement that the whole family can use during times of stress or during cold/flu season.

When to use: Can take vitamin C for immediate relief, but I recommend a daily dose during this time of year. Vitamin C is not only an in-the-moment stress buster, but also a good stress preventive if you take it daily.

#3 Diffuse the Situation

 Have you joined the diffusing movement yet?  It’s so simple and can have such amazing benefits on everything from colds to cancer.  Small amounts of essential oils are placed in water that the diffuser then releases into the air.  The smell is aromatic and pleasing to the senses while the stress busting benefits are stellar.  Essential oils like lavender, frankincense and chamomile are three of my personal favorites, but there’s so many others to choose from. The beauty of this stress reliever is in the olfactory- brain connection. The scent goes into our nose and straight to the brain where emotions like mood and memory are affected.  The result is a calming and relaxing feeling in our nervous system.  And calm and relaxed = less stressful feelings.  Less stress, happy gut.  Win. Win.

How to do it: If you’ve ever looked for a diffuser at a local store or online, you know that it’s a sea of craziness.  There’s so many models to choose from and it’s tough to decide which model is best.  I’ve gone through countless diffusers that had great reviews and then petered out soon after buying them.  Well, I’m happy to report that I think I’ve found the best diffuser on the planet.  You can check it out here.  I’ve had it for almost a year without complaint. So, how can you add diffusing to your busy mom life?  Keep it simple of course! Diffuse at night while you sleep. Just turn on the mist and enjoy the stress busting benefits. There’s even car diffusers like this one.  As moms, we’re in the car all the time, right? Take advantage of it.  And trust me, your kids will benefit from the soothing scents too.

When to use: When it’s convenient, nighttime or car time are good mom-centered options.

#4 Get Romantic

Am I talking about sex?  Sure, sex is a great anti-stress activity and if you feel up for mama, I say go for it! We all know sex can be a great stress buster.  But what if you just don’t feel up for some friskiness with your partner?  The holidays, the kids, your gut issues… so many things can get in the way.  But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on closeness and intimacy with your partner during the stressful holiday season.  There’s some great romantic de-stressors that take little time, but have great impact.  Snuggling, spooning and hand holding for starters. Even a meaningful look between you and the one you love has been shown to have an immediate impact on your stress level.

How to do it: So many of these romantic stress busters take little to no time at all because they can be done while you’re sleeping.  What?  Spooning the night away, snuggling while you sleep, even hand holding can be done while you are in bed. And if you think it doesn’t affect your stress levels because it’s not during waking hours, think again. Special time with your partner, whether it’s the intimate act of sex or the romantic gesture of snuggling while you sleep releases happy hormones like oxytocin and dopamine. So, even while you sleep, you can be reaping the benefits of this anti-stress technique.

When to use: Ideally, every day. Remember, a little romance can have a lasting impact.

#5 Take the Anti-Stress Mineral

Chocolate. Oh, yeah, I’m giving you permish to eat chocolate. Why?  It’s loaded with the anti-stress mineral – Magnesium.  And for those not eating chocolate right now due to gut challenges or being on a special eating plan like the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, no worries at all. There’s loads of other ways to get your magnesium.  Bananas, avocados, nuts, seeds, leafy greens (cooked is fine) and organ meats are all super high in magnesium.  And if you really need an extra dose, there’s always magnesium supplements.

How to do it: Magnesium, in its many forms is a fantastic stress buster because it offers us a natural way to relax and calm our body. Compounds in magnesium inhibit the release of our stress hormones and that, my friend, is why “a chocolate a day keeps the doctor away” (isn’t that the way the saying goes?)

The easiest way to get your anti-stress dose of magnesium is to eat it.  There’s so many options, even ones our sensitive guts can tolerate.  But, if you need some extra magnesium support, and many of us do, there’s always supplementation. Check out this form of magnesium and this one too as options for this anti-stress mineral.

When to use: Best when you get a little magnesium daily.  About one small square of at least 70% cacao or as a daily supplement if your body needs more.

#6 Watch Netflix

Will Netflix alone de-stress you completely?  For a moment in time, HELL YEAH, especially if you choose a comedy.  Smiles, chuckles, giggles, snickers, belly laughs… any and all of these will release feel good hormones all over your body.  So what if it’s just for a moment in time?  So, what if the present wrapping and holiday cooking has to wait?  Leave it behind for an hour and chances are you’ll be wrapping that present with a grin and prepping that holiday meal while humming a Christmas carol.  Remember that old TV commercial with the punchline “Calgon, take me away!” So totally 80’s right? Well, I think the new version of that saying should be “Neflix, take me away!”

How to do it: This will depend on your schedule.  Are you a mom with teenagers who sleep in? Maybe you’ll start your day with the quick wit of The Gilmore Girls.  Got little ones who go to bed early? Sneak a little relaxing Netflix time with a silly holiday favorite.  I just watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas the other day.  Now I can’t get that line “the, the, the GRINCH!!!” out of my head.  It makes me smile every time I say it out loud. Can you say “endorphin’s releasing?”

Oh, and just a quick P.S. on this stress buster: For me, it’s Netflix, but for you, it might be Hulu or Amazon or Satellite… you get the picture ; )

When to use: Whenever you need a good laugh. As much or as little as you have time for.

#7 Drink Tea

The world of tea has changed.  I’m not talking about your mama’s plain prim and proper tea.  I’m talking about a whole new wave of adaptogenic teas that have healing properties.  With this tip, you’re not only busting your holiday stress, you’re healing your gut at the same time.  Adaptogenic teas come from herbs and dried fruits like nettle, licorice root, elderberries, chamomile, peppermint and lemon balm.  These teas (either blended or stand alone) should definitely be sipped to keep your mood stable, your stress low and your gut happy throughout the holiday season.

How to do it: If drinking tea conjures up images of a boring Lipton tea bag, hold on to your hat, mom friend, because these teas are something special.  Simple, but definitely special. All you need is a good quality loose leaf tea, a tea strainer and some hot water.  Play with different combinations and see what flavors help you.  If you’re looking for loose leaf herbal tea, look no further than this online tea source.  If you’re looking to invest in a tea strainer for loose leaf tea, here’s one that’s worth checking out and here’s one more you might like.

When to use: Herbal tea can be consumed daily and year-round for most people.

 #8 Do Some Housework

I can hear you now.  Karyn, you’re joking right?  First of all, come on! And second of all, are you serious?  Yes, and yes.  I told you these stress relieving tips were a little weird.  This one threw me for a loop too, but I recently saw research that showed that certain housework tasks can actually induce a meditative, relaxation state.  Turns out that the mundane chores are best for stress busting.  Ironing, vacuuming, doing dishes… these repetitive tasks that require little attention to detail can actually give your mind a break.  So, next time you find yourself feeling stress and tension, grab some pots and pans and start scrubbing.

How to do it: Stressed about all the cleaning that needs to be done before the company comes for the holiday? Sprinkle the repetitive, stress relieving tasks between the stressful ones.  That way, you get a mind break every once in a while.

When to use: Anytime you have chores to do, but need a mental break at the same time.

 #9 Eat Fat

I’m sure you’ve heard the latest: fat is good. Good fat, that is.  Oily fish like salmon and mackerel, avocados, eggs, walnut and coconut oil, nuts and seeds (if you tolerate them). And did you know that good fat also helps your body deal with stress?  Yep, these quality fats help reduce inflammation all over your body and less inflammation means less stress and better gut health.  Love it when we can reduce stress and gut distress in one fell swoop.  Less stress, happy gut. Hallelujah!

How to do it: Focus on finding a good fat to include in every meal.  Avocados can be a great omelette topper at breakfast, salmon makes a great dinner option and a handful of walnuts are great snacking food.

When to use: Every day. Inflammation is best tackled over time so make good fat a part of your daily life during the holidays and all year long.

In a Gut Shell:

Don’t have time to read the entire post? I get it mom friend. Let’s Recap!

Want to de-stress so you don’t have to deal with the inevitable holiday flare-up this year? Try these 9 tips:

#1 Blow up a balloon

#2 Pack on the vitamin C

#3 Diffuse the situation

#4 Get romantic

#5 Take the anti-stress mineral

#6 Watch Netflix

#7 Drink tea

#8 Do some housework

#9 Eat fat

Are you still with me?  You rock sista, friend!

Phew, that was a long post.  Hope it was helpful for you.  I ‘m sending you invisible holiday gut love so you can enjoy the holidays without the “inevitable” flare-up.  It sucks when a flare takes over your holiday plans.  I don’t want that for you.  We all deserve happiness and health during the holidays!

So, pick a couple of these techniques to try out.  And let me know how they go for you.

You can share what worked for you with all of us in the Gut Love Community.  Hop on Facebook or Instagram and let me know.  Or feel free to send me a personal email at hello@karynhaley.com  Email from you is my own personal stress buster!

Happy holidays dear one.  Be kind to yourself and you will be the mom you always dreamed you’d be!!!

Hey, psst… since you made it this far, I’m going to share something with you that I only share with the truly dedicated gut loving mamas of the world.  Did you know we’ve got an amazing gut lovin’ community of moms out there and we’d love for you to be a part of it.  It’s our FREE and FABULOUS Gut Love Community of Moms and it’s all about support, empowerment and education for moms going through gut struggles.  There’s tips, tools, webinars, recipes and cyber hugs just for you mom friend so you can be the mom you always dreamed you’d be. You can find out more when you click the button below.

Sources used to write this blog post:

Stress in Less Than 5 Minutes
6 Aromatherapy Essential OilsWashing Dishes to Wash the Dishes: Brief Instruction in an Informal Mindfulness Practice for Stress Relief and Sleep
10 Magnesium-Rich Foods That Are Super Healthy
Magnesium and the Brain: The Original Chill Pill
10 Incredible Benefits of Cuddling That Make You Want to Cuddle Now
Washing Dishes to Wash the Dishes: Brief Instruction in an Informal Mindfulness Practice
Always Stressed? Here are 8 Natural Stress Relievers to Try Now



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