How to Avoid Holiday Stress

By Dayna Dye

Even though children and most adults tend to enjoy the celebrations that come along with the holiday season, for many, it’s a time of increased stress, depression, and even illness. This phenomenon can be caused by a number of factors. Below, we’ll take a look at a few of these holiday joy-thieves and offer some practical tips for overcoming them.

Lack of Sunlight Causes Holiday Depression

A significant number of people get depressed during the holidays and there are many reasons why this happens. One major culprit is the waning sunlight that accompanies the approach of the winter solstice, which is the shortest day of the year.

These shorter winter days result in lower vitamin D production and correlate with an increase in reported cases of SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Although low vitamin D can be easily remedied with supplements, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can definitely be more challenging.

Several hypotheses have been developed to explain the cause of seasonal affective disorder besides low vitamin D. One theory is a drop in the brain's serotonin level. So, if you suffer from SAD, you might benefit from vitamin D and nutrients that boost serotonin, like tryptophan.

Also, SAD patients often find improvements in their condition through the daily use of light boxes, which expose you to bright light that simulates sunlight and can elevate your mood.

Last — but certainly not least — is exercise, which is often neglected around the holidays due to spending more time indoors and/or having less free time.

Unfortunately, however, some people with SAD do require medication. Which is okay, considering SAD symptoms are often much worse than having to take a drug.

Cold & Flu Viruses Can Create Holiday Stress

Another major physical stressor that comes along with the holidays is the prevalence of cold and influenza viruses. Increased contact with other people due to shopping, indoor social gatherings and air travel often results in increased exposure to airborne viruses.

Add to this a person whose immune system is already stressed due to inadequate sleep or other factors, like low vitamin D, and the perfect stage for coming down with a cold or flu is set.

To protect against this, make sure you get plenty of sleep and consider taking some additional immune-boosting supplements like grape seed extract, glutathione, elderberry and garlic. If you feel a cold or flu coming on, take a bitter herb like Andrographis paniculata. This herb has direct, viral-killing effects1,2.

Eating & Drinking Too Much Also Causes Stress

One easily-avoidable physical stressor is increased alcohol consumption. Although a small amount of "holiday cheer" may have cardiovascular benefits, too much alcohol is damaging to the body, not to mention a major cause of traffic and other accidents as well as domestic disputes.

Consuming too many calories, and fatty, sugary, and other nutritionally-deficient foods and beverages also stresses your body. Try sampling small amounts of traditional treats and eat slowly to truly savor and experience them. You may very well find that you actually enjoy them more this way.

Mental Fatigue is Common During the Holidays

Mental stress can be caused by a number of things. Trying to do too much around the holidays can easily turn what should be fun and enjoyable into "the nightmare before Christmas." Women, especially, often find themselves overburdened with the responsibility for the majority of the Christmas shopping, cooking, and entertaining.

The assumed obligation of expensive gift-giving can create financial burdens as well, which can lead to mental burnout. We’ve also heard from people on limited incomes that they prefer not to receive gifts because it obligates them to buy gifts in return — which they can't afford.

Loneliness is also a major cause of stress and depression for people who can't travel to be with their loved ones or for those who may have outlived them. A visit to a man or woman who is alone during the holidays or an invitation to one's own special gathering can mean much more to someone like this than any store-bought gift.

Supplements Make a Great Gift!

Know someone a little depressed or stressed out? Consider giving them some of the supplements discussed in the post. It's one gift that definitely won't gather dust in the back of a closet, or worse, be re-gifted!

Remember, this is the season for friends and family and peace. From all of us here at Life Extension, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


  1. Phytother Res. 2005 Dec;19(12):1069-70.
  2. Nat Prod Res. 2005 Apr;19(3):223-30


Adolfo David said...

Welcome to this great blog dear Dayna, Merry Christmas for you and all LEF family!

Post a Comment

All Contents Copyright © 1995-2016 Life Extension® All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician.