The Secret to a Happy (and stress-free) Holiday Season
With the holiday season fast approaching, it is helpful to have a game plan for how to navigate this busy time without losing our cool, picking up a bug, or experiencing heightened tension. Both mental and physical health are important so that we are able to celebrate with those near and dear to us with a calm and joyful heart. We can also use this time to enjoy the natural world around us — and this includes foraged fare! We are blessed with a true bounty of wild foods just ripe for the picking during autumn. I’m including one of my seasonal favorites below along with a recipe that’s a perfect addition to poultry.
Give Your Happiness Hormone a Boost
There are times when the holidays seem to highlight the many ways that we are unhappy and we find we are struggling with depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, or disconnection. It is during these seasons of life that we could use a boost of oxytocin, otherwise known as “the happiness hormone.” Here are five of my favorite ways to naturally increase the levels of this hormone so that we feel more love, contentment, security, and trust:
- Listen to music or sing
- Share a meal with friends or family
- Give a loved one a hug
- Practice altruism
- Pet your pet
To read more about the science behind these practices, and why they make us just plain feel good, have a look at this post.
Laughter is also good medicine for brightening your mood and encouraging connection with those around us. If we prime ourselves with a bit of humor before entering into a challenging family dynamic during the holidays or before busy travel, we can shift our perspective and lower anxiety levels. What’s more, it will also reduce tension and blood pressure, improve our immunity, and clarify our minds so that we make balanced decisions. Importantly, it helps to foster better relationships. If you are seeking simple ways to find more humor in life, these suggestions can help tickle your funny bone.
A Thanksgiving Feast, On the Wild Side
Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) is a small, dark colored berry with an intense astringent taste that can be harvested in the fall and used for holiday meals. Due to their tartness and high pectin content, these wild berries are ideal for jams, jellies, and the spicy chutney recipe below. You can also make chokeberry juice, tea, and wine. Chokeberry can be harvested from August-October once the berries have turned a bluish-black color. They freeze well for up to a year. Like most berries they are rich in health-promoting antioxidants, although chokeberries are on the higher end of the spectrum because of their deep color.
Chokeberry Chutney. Combine 6 1⁄2 lb. (3kg) chokeberries and 2⁄3 cups sugar in a pot. Cook over fire while stirring. In a smaller skillet, sauté 4 diced red onions in butter. Add onions and butter to your chokeberry mixture along with 6 chopped and peeled pears, 1⁄2 cup vinegar, and a pinch each of cardamom, allspice, ground cloves, mustard seeds, ginger, and salt. Let simmer for 1 hour. Serve with poultry.
For more autumn wild food inspiration, see this post about cooking on the wild side year round.
Stay Healthy, Calm, and Collected
Even with the best of intentions, stress and tension can get the better of us during the holidays. These are the times when we need a little extra help. My Anxiety & Stress Tincture soothes the stress response and supports clarity and composure. Not to mention it calms the mind and nervous system so that we experience deep, restorative sleep.
If we are traveling or would like to avoid the latest contagious bug making the rounds in crowded shopping areas and airports, my Travel Pack is a wonderful way to fortify your immune system. It contains my Blue Elderberry Tincture to help you avoid catching the flu and minimizing the severity of illness if you do become sick and a Dual-Extracted Usnea Tincture that helps to prevent colds, influenza, strep throat, and respiratory issues. I personally spray it into the back of my throat every time I am out and about in public. The Travel Pack also includes my All-Purpose (First Aid) Salve, which helps to prevent you catching a bug when a small amount is applied on the inside of your nose. All three of these herbal remedies are the perfect trio for staying healthy and energetic during the holidays.
I hope these tips help you to have a truly blessed season of abundance!