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How To Manage Stress During the Holidays

In year’s past, the holidays have meant braving crowded airports, back-to-back holiday parties, and checking gifts off your shopping list. But this year, everything about the holiday season feels different, shrouded in uncertainty around if and how we’ll be able to see loved ones safely. So it’s no surprise that with this uncertainly comes higher-than-normal stress levels and more anxious jitters than you may have felt before. 

The good news is that there are several things you can do right now to alleviate some of the tension and usher in a sense of calm during the holiday season. From a zen-inducing CBD oil to carving out moments of quiet or movement and sunshine in your day, here are a few ways to tackle whatever the next few months bring with a sense of ease. 

1. Consider a natural remedy, like CBD

Looking for something discreet to weave into your daily routine? Try a CBD oil, which works just as well when it’s taken on its own as it does in your morning smoothie or coffee. While prescription drugs for mild anxiety often come with habit-forming risk, a natural remedy like CBD oil helps promote a sense of calm. And beyond just the lack of habit-forming risks, reduced anxiety has been one of the most consistently observed effects in both animal and human studies done around CBD. It’s honestly something we could all use a little help with these days. And, while everyone’s ideal dosage is unique, best practice is starting daily with a ¼ dropper and working your way up, adding or subtracting until you feel the intended effects. 

2. Get a solid night's rest

Is the constant news cycle or never-ending shopping list keeping you up at night? Inadequate sleep, which is defined by length, quality, and regularity, plagues upwards of 70 million Americans, and it doesn’t just make us tired in the morning. Anxiety is an external factor that can lead to insomnia and sleeplessness. As some research and anecdotal evidence suggests, CBD can help manage the negative impact that anxiety has on sleep. 

What’s more, poor sleep can trigger a cascade of physical and emotional consequences, including increased stress, memory, cognitive impairment, elevated hunger levels, and sugar cravings, and a weakened immune system We suggest eating at the same time every day to keep your body’s circadian rhythm in sync, establishing a nighttime routine (this includes limiting late-night screen time), and keeping your sleeping quarters at 68 degrees. 

3. Just move

Here’s something you can do right now: getting outdoors on sunny days — just don’t forget to bundle up!. That’s right, daylight helps stimulate the production of serotonin and also can help combat seasonal affective disorder. 

The simple act of moving your body — whether it’s streaming a yoga class or something more high energy like HIIIT is important. Research consistently shows that physical activity increases your body’s production of endorphins, which, in turn, gives you feel-good vibes and a welcome burst of energy. 

4. Try meditation

Even at the peak of family time, carve out anywhere from 5-10 minutes for yourself each day. Studies suggest that mindfulness meditation greatly impacts one’s mental and physical health by alleviating stress, increasing focus, and improving sleep. Developing your own meditation practice serves as a quick-fix when you’re feeling stressed by helping to reverse your body’s reaction to stress and promote a sense of calm. Your immune function improves. Your adrenal glands produce less cortisol (a hormone closely linked with stress) and you’re using oxygen more efficiently. 

And not unlike regular CBD use, a regular meditation practice in your tool kit can help build up resilience to stressors, which is something we all need a little more of, especially right now. 

5. Don't forget your greens

During the holidays, in particular, there’s no shortage of indulgent sweets like gingerbread, cakes, pies, and casseroles. And even though we’re often bombarded with messaging around staying away from processed foods, sugar, and excessive alcohol intake, it feels like a big ask during the holiday season when those are so often the things we crave, particularly when we’re feeling anxious. So what does that mean? Find your own healthy balance, take care and nourish your immune system with a balanced diet of whole foods like fruits, leafy veggies, whole grains, and nuts. With this thoughtful approach, that second cup of mulled wine is totally OK, too.

Nandita KhannaNandita Khanna LA-based content and brand ringmaster.

Likes: hand-written notes, iced lattes, and the Sunday NYT.
Dislikes: Bad manners, plastic straws.