Routine often plays a major role in our physical and mental health, and the holiday season can be a challenge if you are traveling, eating foods you don’t typically eat, and dealing with family drama. Here are some herbs, supplements, apps, and supplies to keep on hand to support your physical and mental wellbeing during the busy holiday season.
Support your gut and digestion
I’m right there with the next person eating Christmas cookies, but if this is a departure from your usual eating style, you may want to be prepared with some digestive support for both comfort and to maintain your overall health. (So much of our immune system and mental health start in the gut!) Before chowing down, try digestive bitters to help you break down your foods. While you may commonly hear about digestive enzymes, digestive bitters encourage your body to create natural digestive enzymes rather than introducing external ones. I like the digestive bitters from Herb Pharm. Another great tool to have on hand is an essential oil blend, such as Gutzy from Saje Wellness, which you can roll on your stomach during times of discomfort. Probiotics may also be a friend of yours to maintain a healthy microbiome — whether it’s bringing a shelf-stable brand like SEED or making sure you eat and drink fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, or yogurt.
Balance your healthy eating habits
For us healthy living enthusiasts and those with eating restrictions, it’s helpful to travel with food items and supplements that support your healthy habits. My mindset is that I happily and mindfully determine what I would like to consume that is outside of my day-to-day eating habits — but I always want it to be a choice, not a decision out of necessity. So I am prepared by bringing my own healthy snacks like raw nuts and seeds I buy in bulk, homemade granola bars, and nut-butter packets. You can also offer to cook for your friends or family if you are staying with them — that way you can dictate what’s on the menu (and maybe even introduce them to something from your healthy eating toolkit!) Whatever direction you go in, do it with intention— you don’t have to be the loner sitting on the side eating your nut butter, but you also don’t have to eat the cheese platter if you know you will feel like garbage the next day. It’s all about making proactive, happy, and healthy decisions — stress can actually make it harder to digest your food!
Always be prepared
I don’t take a lot of supplements at home, but on the road I like to be sure I have what I need to stay physically and mentally happy — since your gut and your brain are connected! Since I am not always able to get my greens in on the go, I carry balance superfood shots from Life Equals or green powder from Amazing Grass or Be Well. For moments when there’s only milk and I would prefer a dairy-free option for my coffee, I carry powdered coconut creamer (Anima Mundi’s organic coconut cream powder is a very clean option). Wherever I go, I carry a bunch of tea so I can be sure to have a healthy option that I love whenever there is hot water. And of course, don’t forget your water bottle — water is often the simplest, most affordable item to add to our wellness arsenal. If you’re somewhere with water that is not suitable for consumption from the tap, consider a water bottle that has a filter like the Berkey sport bottle.
Reduce stress and protect your mental health
Let’s be honest — the holidays aren’t all sleigh rides and gifts. Sometimes spending so much time with friends and family can be stressful! To manage stress and my mental health, I rely on several tools. I carry packets of adaptogens, functional mushrooms, and HRBLS Nerve Less, a taste, easy option for travel. Meditation is great because it’s free and you can do it basically anywhere (I love the Insight Timer app!), and the same goes for journaling. It also helps to keep your body moving— you can grab a free yoga class on YouTube, or Kait Hurley’s app KAIT features workouts followed by a short meditation. Or just sit in child’s pose for a few minutes as needed.
Get a sound night’s sleep
It’s often hard to sleep while you are traveling or away from your own bed, so a natural sleep aid may be helpful. An herbal blend like Sleep from Supervos or a nighttime tea can be supportive in helping you fall and stay asleep. An eye mask may also be supportive of a good night’s rest.
Of course, you don’t need to spend all your income on powders and superfoods for the holiday season! Instead, prioritize areas where you think the support would be most helpful. Is spending time with your family stress-free but you can’t get a good night’s sleep in your parents’ house? Skip the adaptogens and opt for a sleep aid. Need to prioritize your mental health? Use a free meditation app. While these herbs and supplements are tools that can support you on your way as needed, the most important thing is to enjoy the holidays, not beat yourself up or try to “detox” after a festive meal, and spend quality time with loved ones.