Looking for ways to stay healthy through the holidays? Try these quick and easy remedies for the bothers that threaten to hold you back from fun!
Boosts Energy: This Warming Sip
It’s not just you — at least 75 percent of us wish we had more pep these days. Thankfully, sipping two 6-oz. cups of chaga tea daily can give you the stamina you crave, increasing your mental and physical energy by 35 percent, and helping you accomplish up to twice as much before tiredness sets in, suggests research in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Explains study co-author Yang Shuyan, PhD, this mushroom extract contains compounds (polysaccharides) that gently stimulate the central nervous system, plus prompt your liver to burn food for energy. Chaga tea has a mild, earthy flavor, and adding a splash of dairy or almond milk gives it a mocha-like taste.
Ends Indigestion: Sketching a Scene
Another way to stay healthy through the holidays: If your stomach starts to swell or ache after a heavy holiday meal, taking a 15-minute break to doodle, sketch, color, or paint could cut your discomfort by 50 percent, say researchers at Georgetown University. Turns out creative tasks that use repetitive hand motions calm the enteric nervous system — a branch of nerves that heighten digestive enzyme and bile release, speed stomach emptying, plus calm spasming muscles in the intestines.
Halts Headaches: Soothing Soaks
The best way to prevent headache flares during the holidays is to think of baths as a daily balm. That’s the word from Stanford University researchers, who say treating yourself to a 20-minute soak each day could cut your risk of tension headaches and even migraines by 75 percent — often from the very first soak. Explains neurologist Ray Kisan, MD, regularly immersing yourself in warm water helps keep your adrenal glands calm, cutting their production of the pain-triggering stress hormone cortisol in half.
Quells Anxiety: Cuing Up Dolly
Feeling rattled? Crank up your favorite Dolly Parton tunes — or other much-loved “oldies” — and your tension, stress, and anxiety could drop by 55 percent in 5 minutes. Scientists at Michigan State University explain that the nostalgic feeling you get when you listen to fun music from your youth spurs the release of the calming happiness hormone oxytocin by as much as 33 percent.
Deepens Sleep: A Nutmeg Sprinkle
Getting 8 hours of sound sleep each night helps you feel 85 percent calmer, happier and more focused — but if you’ve been having trouble falling asleep, nutmeg can help! British researchers say the active ingredient in this sweet spice (myristicin) mimics the effects of Prozac, prompting your brain to release the soothing hormone serotonin, helping you drift off within 20 minutes if you add 1⁄8 tsp. to your bedtime snack. Hint: Try sprinkling nutmeg on hot cocoa or buttered toast.
Halts Weight Gain: Hard Candies
Set out a dish of hard candies, and you’ll sail through the holidays without gaining a pound. Penn State researchers say sucking on a hard candy before meals stimulates your brain’s appetite control center, nixing cravings and helping you eat 190 fewer calories. More good news: Doing this before your two biggest meals of the day can create a conditioned response in your brain, helping you effortlessly shed 2 pounds every month!
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.