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4 Strategies for Combating Holiday Overwhelm

By Jodi Cohen

A woman in a santa hat looking stressed or frustrated, clenching her fists and shouting or showing a strong expression of exasperation.

The holidays are marketed as the “most wonderful time of the year”  For me, they often feel like the most overwhelming time of the year.

I have learned that if I do not schedule in some time for recovery and self-care, it does not go well.

Recovery is defined as “a return to a normal or healthy condition” or your body’s ability to restore its physical and mental processes. Non-stop activity- be it physical exercise or holiday entertaining and celebrating – can throw your body into overwhelm, undermining your energy, along with your health.

The goal of recovery is to refresh and restore your mind and body, so you can meet and exceed your previous performance.

Recovery Strategies

Some of my favorite strategies for self-care and recovery include grounding, self-care and nourishing,  sleep, boundaries and


1. Grounding

Grounding is a technique that helps you connect to the healing energy of nature and the Earth.  Grounding brings us into a state of balance, both mentally and physically. It is in this balanced state that our body can rest, repair, and heal on the physical, emotional and spiritual level.

When we physically ground and connect to Earth – or apply essential oils derived from plants grown in the Earth – we connect to the balance of nature.  Essential oils and the energy of nature, especially oils from grounded plants like trees or grasses, help ground us and return our bodies to the state of balance and enhance our ability to change in response to body’s demands.

Essential oils, especially those derived from grounded plants like trees which are intrinsically grounded through their root structure into the Earth.  Essential oils comprised from barks, roots, grasses, needles and resin of plants also help you pull your energy centers down into the Earth.

Plants that grow under earth entrain with earth’s energies.  This is why stones, root vegetables or essential oils from root plants that share space with the Earth, match the frequency of the Earth and can be used for grounding.

This helps to naturally reduce inflammation, optimize organ function and improve detoxification, by allowing toxins to flow out of us and into the Earth.   On the emotional level, grounding allows your thoughts and emotions to move through us more easily.  On a spiritual level, grounding enhances your connection to your intuition and spiritual guidance.

When we connect to nature by consuming a plant based diet, applying essential oils derived from plants, hiking in the woods, walking barefoot on the grass or dirt, we allow our bodies to align with the natural rhythm of the planet. When we lose this connection to nature, it interferes with our internal rhythm and balance, impeding our ability to return to balance so we can relax, sleep, detoxify, digest, repair, and heal.  When we ground ourselves, these natural processes flow easily without interference.

My favorite essential oils for grounding are Attention™ and Parasympathetic®.

Attention™ contains Vetiver, a perennial bunchgrass with very deep roots that help ground it to the Earth.  Vetiver essential oil is extracted from these deep roots and is known to grounds you mentally, physically and emotionally, often helping you explore the root of your emotional issues.  Attention™ also contains Frankincense™ and Cedarwood which helps us ground and feel connected to the planet and each other.  Apply 2- 3 drops of Attention™ on the bottom of the feet and back of the neck to help with grounding.

Parasympathetic®helps to calm your sympathetic nervous system which helps you feel grounded in your body. Apply Parasympathetic® over the vagus nerve (behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone).


2. Self Care and Nourishing

Self-care has been defined as the process of taking care of yourself with behaviors that promote health and relaxation. This can include healthy food choices, restful sleep, gratitude and forgiveness practices.

There will always be triggers that throw you off balance. Some of these triggers are within your control (like what you eat or where you focus your attention) and some you cannot (like other people and their choices). Keeping your emotions on an even keel goes a long way toward maintaining composure and equilibrium. You’re less likely to get bent out of shape, if you maintain your own inner calm.

Activating your parasympathetic nervous system is a key self-care strategy that helps to calm your anxiety and allow you to control how you react to the world.

Parasympathetic® can also lower blood pressure, heart rate, and pain perception. It may help improve cognition, reduce stress, enhance attention span, and even improve sleep quality (by reducing cortisol levels).  Apply Parasympathetic® over the vagus nerve (behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone).


3. Sleep

Sleep is so critical self-care, recovery and to calming overwhelm. Read: you need actual sleep to feel rested and recover.

During the holidays, we often burn the candle at both ends—too many late nights followed by early wake-up calls – making it challenging to get eight hours of restful sleep.

Restful sleep, defined as the ability to both fall asleep and stay asleep, allows your mind and body to relax, recover and repair so that you stay mentally and physically healthy.  It allows time for your body to rest and repair, detoxify, balance blood sugar levels, burn calories and reset our energy reserves.  Without restful sleep, you may feel fatigued and your body compensates with cortisol spikes, sugar cravings and other tricks to keep us awake and functioning.

You may struggle to fall asleep or wake up during the night and struggle to fall back asleep.  Essential oils are known for their sedative properties that to help relax the mind and body to reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and improve sleep quality.  For example, Lavender oil is known for its sedative effects.

Circadian Rhythm® helps you fall asleep by triggering the pineal gland to naturally release the sleep hormone melatonin.

Liver™ helps support waking up around 3 a.m. – which often correlates with your liver.  It is during the evening that your liver is the most active.  Waking up around this time usually means that your liver is over-worked and could use additional support.

Pancreas™ helps you return to restful sleep when you wake up around 1 a.m. and feel wide awake.  If blood sugar drops during the night, your adrenal glands release stress hormones to support emergency blood sugar levels which wakes you up.  The pancreas releases the hormone insulin to help carry the blood sugar into the cells which helps your body relax so you can easily return to sleep.


4. Boundaries

As we seek to connect with loved ones this holiday season, we might have to navigate potentially conflicting perspectives on how we choose to manage our own personal health.  You have to give yourself time to refill your own cup so that you have something to pour into others.

One of my friends likes to note that “my rights end where hers begin”.  That very much feels like the theme of this holiday season and I strongly encourage you to tap into your own boundaries and intuition on what compromises you are comfortable making to meet the demands of others and what boundaries you need to keep in place.

Setting clear boundaries not only with what behavioral modifications you are willing to embrace, but also in terms of information that you are willing to allow into your space.  I have found that the more I am able to establish clear information boundaries and drown out the background noise, the better able I am to access my own intuition.

Strong boundaries can also help prevent any altercations over differences in opinions and avoid any interactions that involve blame, shame, guilt or other forms of manipulation.  You do not need to be anyone else’s punching bag or set yourself on fire to keep others warm. You have to prioritize your own time and emotional energy and allow yourself to take a break.

Small Intestine Support™ is a powerful blend for supporting healthy boundaries.  On the physical level, your small intestine plays a critical role in your digestion process, absorbing and assimilating key nutrients while preventing harmful pathogens and toxins from entering the body. On an emotional level, the small intestine plays a similarly discerning role with emotions, helping to understand experiences and determine healthy and appropriate relationships and boundaries. It is also an area where we can hold deep childhood scars of rejection, abandonment or abuse; negative thoughts fueled by feelings of lack of self-worth, low self‐esteem, loneliness, neglect and anxieties about survival and success.

Small Intestine Support™ blend supports the healthy functioning of the small intestine as it sorts and transforms food, feelings and ideas into useful ingredients for the body/mind. It also helps correct imbalances where you are overly in tune with other’s criticism, feelings or opinions at the expense of your own.

5. Practice Gratitude

Nothing shifts your energy and your mood as quickly as gratitude.  When you are focused on gratitude, appreciating all the positive things your life, you shift your focus away from whatever is upsetting you.  It is the best mental pivot I have found. And the practice of starting you day with gratitude practice and ending your day by sharing what you are grateful for helps you maintain a positive mental, physical and emotional state.

It’s not surprising that research finds that people who practice gratitude on a regular basis experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, and express more compassion and kindness to others. An NIH study correlated a focus on gratitude with increased blood flow to the hypothalamus and a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol.

Gratitude, or thankful appreciation, helps us pivot out of pandemic grief and free up our energy to focus on positive things in our life.

Heart™ helps amplify feelings of love and gratitude, helping to increase the amount of love in your life. Every moment of our life we have the opportunity to see the glass as half empty or half full. How we envision each moment helps paint a picture of our actual experience, so why not choose to be happy, to think of and move toward things that bring us joy.   Essential oils are a wonderful tool for cementing in that positive frequency.  Apply 2-3 drops of Heart™ directly over the heart (left side of chest). During times of intense stress and fatigue, use as often as is needed (every 20 -30 minutes).  During times of normal stress, use 2-3 times daily to calm and uplift the heart and the body.

Applying Rose™ over my heart was the fastest way to calm an grief tidal wave.  It immediately helped me feel better and more calm. Research by Noble prize-winning noble laureate Linda Buck shows that rose essential oil can counteract your brain’s response to fear. Her research found that smelling rose essential oil in the presence of predator odors (or other fear stimulus) can suppress your brain’s stress responses and hormonal signals.


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About The Author

Jodi Cohen

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.