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Strategies to Help Handle Holiday Stress

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The holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but a shocking 45 percent of Americans said they’d prefer to skip the season entirely because it brings so much financial pressure. Nearly half of those surveyed by payday loan provider Think Finance said their holiday stress levels were high or extremely high, and that was just in relation to holiday expenses.1

A study commissioned by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council similarly revealed that “festive stress” is ruining the holidays for many, with 31 percent describing them not as joyful and festive — but frantic.2

A festive stress timeline was also revealed, showing that the stress starts rearing its ugly head around December 13, grows more severe by December 18 and peaks at the worst possible moment: on Christmas Day.

You can probably guess what most people named as one of the top sources of their stress: striving to have the perfect Christmas and working too hard to achieve it. Other top sources of holiday stress included:3

Stress can quickly turn you into a Grinch for the holidays while at the same time taking a serious toll on your physical and emotional health, influencing everything from your mood and brain function to your heart health and risk of both acute illness and chronic disease, including cancer.

When you become stressed your body also secretes cortisol and glucagon, both of which affect your blood sugar levels.4 The end result is that your body must produce more insulin to keep your blood sugar levels in check, and when you’re stressed out, your blood sugar levels will probably stay elevated much longer than they would otherwise, ultimately promoting weight gain and Type 2 diabetes.

Needless to say, having effective stress-relief tools at your disposal is priceless in terms of the emotional and physical well-being they can offer you, but many people turn to unhealthy habits to tackle stress instead.

The Blueberry Council study revealed, for instance, that 1 in 6 people consumes energy drinks to keep up with holiday chaos while 74 percent said they eat excessive amounts of unhealthy snacks to cope — then feel guilty as a result, which only adds to the tension.5 There is a better way.

The Blueberry Council (not surprisingly) recommended eating more blueberries for an energy and antioxidant boost instead of junk food — a worthy bit of advice — but it will take more than blueberries to get you through the month of December. To fight back at stress this year, try the healthy habits below, and keep them in your stress-relief arsenal not only during the holidays but all year-round.

1. Exercise — A quick high-intensity workout may be just the thing to boost your mood and relieve stress. You’ve probably heard of (and perhaps experienced) the “runner’s high” or intense mood boost that can occur after exercise. This may be due to a neurotransmitter called anandamide, sometimes known as the bliss compound, which increases in your brain after a workout.

Anandamide is a neurotransmitter and endocannabinoid produced in your brain that temporarily blocks feelings of pain and depression. It’s a derivative of the Sanskrit word “bliss,” and a deficiency is associated with increased anxiety and stress.6

Exercise also creates new, excitable neurons along with new neurons designed to release the GABA neurotransmitter, which inhibits excessive neuronal firing, helping to induce a natural state of calm.7

Exercise also boosts levels of potent brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. This may help buffer some of the effects of stress. Mind-body exercises, such as yoga, may be particularly beneficial in warding off stress.

In fact, one of the negative effects of exposure to higher stress-induced cortisol levels is cognitive deficits as you age. Research found, however, that eight weeks of yoga can improve those cognitive deficits and improve memory — a benefit gleaned because it mitigated stress levels.8

2. Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

The beauty of EFT for stress is that you can use it anytime, anywhere, and it’s valuable for all ages, even kids. It requires no special tools and, once you learn how to do it, it can be your go-to when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

What is it? EFT is a psychological acupressure technique that’s based on the same energy meridians used in acupuncture. However, instead of stimulating the pathways with needles, EFT uses tapping with your fingertips along with voicing positive affirmations.

You can learn it yourself — we have a number of free articles, videos and tutorials on our website that will help you — or you can consult a qualified EFT practitioner to work through issues with you.

EFT is particularly powerful for treating stress because it targets your amygdala and hippocampus, which are the parts of your brain that help you decide whether or not something is a threat.9

In a study of nursing students, a population known to experience significant stress, EFT led to decreases in feelings of stress and anxiety including a decrease in physical symptoms. The researchers concluded, “Overall, findings suggested that EFT can be an effective tool for stress management and anxiety relief …”10

In another study, participants received one hourlong EFT session, which led to significant improvements in anxiety and depression, along with a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol. “The decrease in cortisol levels in the EFT group mirrored the observed improvement in psychological distress,” the researchers explained.11

3. Meditation and Proper Breathing — If you’re not yet taking advantage of the health-boosting powers of meditation, there’s no time like the holidays to start! Even among people with anxiety disorder, those who learned mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques like mindfulness meditation did better under stress than those who used other stress reduction methods.12


Practicing “mindfulness” means you’re actively paying attention to the moment you’re in right now. Rather than letting your mind wander, when you’re mindful, you’re living in the moment and letting distracting thoughts pass through your mind without getting caught up in their emotional implications.


Mindfulness meditation is just one type, and may reduce stress via stress-reduction pathways in your body.13 The longer you meditate, the more benefits you may receive, as studies suggest experienced meditators have reduced stress and inflammatory responses. According to research published in Psychoneuroendocrinology:14


[E]xperienced meditators reported higher levels of psychological factors associated with well-being and resilience. These results suggest that the long-term practice of meditation may reduce stress reactivity and could be of therapeutic benefit in chronic inflammatory conditions characterized by neurogenic inflammation.”

Meditation can be done right at home with very little formal “training” necessary. Simply sit quietly, perhaps with some soothing music, breathe rhythmically, and focus on something such as your breathing, a candle, a mantra or just being there, fully aware, in the moment.

Applying Buteyko breathing, which involves breathing through your nose, not your mouth, also really helps to calm the mind and get into deep states of relaxation.

4. Proper Sleep — It’s virtually impossible to cope with stressful situations if you’re not well rested, so getting quality sleep is especially important during the holidays. Lack of quality sleep is known to elevate physiological markers of stress, such as cortisol levels, while also exaggerating the neuroendocrine effects of psychosocial stress.15

It’s a catch-22 of sorts, because if you’re already feeling stressed, it can make sleep more elusive. If you’re having trouble sleeping, I suggest reading my Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep for 33 tips on improving your sleep.

Getting back to the basics of improving your sleeping environment is important, including sleeping in complete darkness and avoiding exposure to blue light, including LEDs, after sunset. Wearing blue-blocking glasses is a simple way to achieve this.

5. Optimize Vitamin D — What do your vitamin D levels have to do with your stress levels? Vitamin D plays a role in facilitating serotonin production, a brain hormone associated with mood elevation.16 When your serotonin levels are low, you may be susceptible to stress. In fact, a study on mice revealed that vitamin-D-deficient mice were more vulnerable to the effects of social stress.17

The best way to optimize your vitamin D level to the recommended 60 to 80 ng/ml is through sensible sun exposure, but for many, oral supplementation will be necessary as well, especially during the winter. The only way to accurately assess your need for supplementation is to measure your vitamin D level regularly.

Also keep in mind that if you take high-dose vitamin D, you may also need to increase your intake of calcium, magnesium and vitamin K2, as these four nutrients work in tandem and rely on sufficient amounts of each to work properly.

6. Tend to Your Gut — The greatest concentration of serotonin is found within your intestines, not your brain, and the state of your gut health can have a significant effect on that of your mood and anxiety level. For instance, probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, have been found to reduce psychological stress in patients about to undergo surgery.18

Even severe and chronic mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder, might be eliminated through the use of certain probiotics such as Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifdobacterium longum, which have been shown to have a calming influence in part by dampening stress hormones.19

To tend to your gut health, eat plenty of fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, natto and kefir and reduce your intake of processed foods and sugars. If you don’t eat fermented foods on a regular basis, a probiotic supplement can be useful.

7. Essential Oils, Especially Lavender — Sometimes sending stress packing can be as simple as adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil to your bathwater, massage oil or diffuser. Lavender essential oil is especially useful when you need to calm your nerves.

“Several animal and human investigations suggest anxiolytic [anxiety reducing], mood stabilizer, sedative, analgesic and anticonvulsive and neuroprotective properties for lavender,” researchers explained.20

A component in lavender oil, linalool, has also been found to produced relaxation effects in mice similar to those produced by benzodiazepines (antianxiety drugs) but without their motor impairment and sedation side effects.21

If you enjoy the scent of lavender, this can be your go-to when you need a quick dose of calm — try rubbing a drop of diluted oil on your pulse points when the holidays give you that frantic feeling.

If you don’t enjoy lavender, there are many other essential oils to choose from, many with equally calming effects, including bergamot, chamomile, rose, clary sage and vetiver. For more information on the properties of individual essential oils, be sure to check out my Ultimate Guide to Herbal Oils.

If you find that the holidays have lost their joy and magic, leaving you with nothing but a giant to-do list and debt come January, it may be time to get back to the basics and celebrate a holiday focused on gratitude, friends and family instead of decorations, presents and obligations.

By cutting back on your holiday demands (many of which are likely self-imposed), you can reduce the source of your stress and free up mental and physical energy, along with time and financial resources, to devote to the things that make you happy.

Oftentimes, you’ll find that less really is more, and the simplest activities — time spent playing board games or taking a walk in the woods with family — are the ones you’ll remember and value most. Make a point to protect the holiday traditions that truly bring you joy and give yourself permission to discard those that don’t.

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Bill Gates: Third Shot May Be Needed to Combat Coronavirus Variants

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With more than 40 million Americans having received at least the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, a third dose may be needed to prevent the spread of new variants of the disease, Bill Gates told CBS News Tuesday.

Gates’ comments come amid growing concern that the current vaccines are not effective against the more contagious Brazilian and South African variants.

Pfizer and Moderna have stated that their vaccines are 95% and 99% effective, respectively, against the initial strain of COVID. However, some scientists have questioned those statements. Additionally, the World Health Organization and vaccine companies have conceded that the vaccines do not prevent people from being infected with COVID or from transmitting it, but are only effective at reducing symptoms.

Gates told CBS Evening News:

“The discussion now is do we just need to get a super high coverage of the current vaccine, or do we need a third dose that’s just the same, or do we need a modified vaccine?”

U.S. vaccine companies are looking at making modifications, which Gates refers to as “tuning.”

People who have had two shots may need to get a third shot and people who have not yet been vaccinated would need the modified vaccine, explained Gates. When asked whether the coronavirus vaccine would be similar to the flu vaccine, which requires yearly boosters, Gates couldn’t rule that out. Until the virus is eradicated from all humans, Gates said, additional shots may be needed in the future.

AstraZeneca in particular has a challenge with the variant,” Gates explained. “And the other two, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, are slightly less effective, but still effective enough that we absolutely should get them out as fast as we can while we study this idea of tuning the vaccine.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the studies being conducted in Brazil and South Africa, CBS News said. The foundation has also invested in the AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and the Novavax vaccines, which are being tested against new variants. Once the AstraZeneca vaccine is approved, the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative or GAVI, founded by Gates, will distribute it globally.

“Gates continues to move the goalposts,” said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chairman and chief legal counsel of Children’s Health Defense. “Meanwhile the strategies he and others have promoted are obliterating the global economy, demolishing the middle class, making the rich richer and censoring vaccine safety advocates, like me.”

Kennedy said that the exclusive focus on vaccines has prevented the kind of progress required to actually address and recover from the pandemic:

“From the pandemic’s outset, clear-headed people familiar with the challenges inherent in the vaccine model have understood that the path out of crisis would require multiple steps. Those steps would need to include the development and/or identification of therapeutic drugs, the sharing of information among doctors to hone improved treatment models that reduce infection mortality rates below those for flu, and the kind of broad-spectrum long-term herd immunity that protects against mutant strains and that only derives from natural infection.”

Instead, Gates and vaccine makers are proposing a lifetime of boosters, supporting insufficient testing to determine safety and failing to address the inadequate monitoring of vaccine injuries, Kennedy said.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Children’s Health Defense.

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Young nurse suffers from hemorrhage and brain swelling after second dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

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(Natural News) A 28-year-old healthcare worker from the Swedish American Hospital, in Beloit, Wisconsin was recently admitted to the ICU just five days after receiving a second dose of Pfizer’s experimental mRNA vaccine. The previously healthy young woman was pronounced brain dead after cerebral angiography confirmed a severe hemorrhage stroke in her brain stem.

Her family members confirmed that she was “breaking out in rashes” after the vaccine. She also suffered from sudden migraine headaches, and got “sick” after taking the second dose of the vaccine. At the very end, she lost the ability to speak and went unconscious. The migraines, nausea, and loss of speech were all symptoms of a brain bleed and brain swelling, something her family did not understand at the time, and something nobody would expect after vaccination.

While on life support, neurologists used angiography to image the damage inside the brain. They found a subarachnoid hemorrhage, whereas a bulging blood vessel burst in the brain, bleeding out in the space between the brain and the tissue covering the brain. The ensuing swelling cut off oxygen to the brain and caused brain death. On February 10, 2021, Sarah reportedly had “no brain activity.” Some of the woman’s organs are now being procured, so they can be donated to other people around the world.

Doctors warn FDA about COVID vaccines causing autoimmune attacks in the heart and brain

Experimental COVID-19 vaccines may cause inflammation along the cardiovascular system, leading to heart attack and/or stroke. This serious issue was brought forth to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by Dr. J. Patrick Whelan, M.D., Ph.D. and further confirmed by cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Hooman Noorchashm, M.D., Ph.D. The two doctors warned that a recently-infected patient who is subject to COVID-19 vaccination is likely to suffer from autoimmune attacks along the ACE-2 receptors present in the heart, and in the microvasculature of the brain, liver and kidney. If viral antigens are present in the tissues of recipients at the time of vaccination, the vaccine-augmented immune response will turn the immune system against those tissues, causing inflammation that can lead to blood clot formation.

This severe adverse event is likely cause of death for the elderly who are vaccinated despite recently being infected. There is no adequate screening process to ensure that this autoimmune attack doesn’t occur. The elderly are not the only people vulnerable to vaccine injury and death. Pfizer’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine could be the main cause behind the sudden death of Sarah Sickles, a 28-year-old nurse from Wisconsin. The Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System has captured five permanent disabilities in Wisconsin, 58 ER visits, and eleven deaths in just one month. This is the first case in Wisconsin of someone under 44 years of age suffering from severe COVID-19 vaccine side effects and death. There are now more than 1,170 deaths recorded in the U.S. related to the experimental mRNA vaccines, a reality that the FDA and CDC continue to ignore.

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Powering hypersonic weapons: US armed forces eyeing dangerous 5G tech

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(Natural News) Much of the conversation surrounding the benefits of 5G is geared toward the consumer side of the technology. People will be able to download videos at lightning speed and will be more connected than ever, proponents claim, although there are serious questions regarding its safety. However, some of the most important 5G applications are not civil at all – the technology will be used extensively in the military domain.

Some of its military uses are outlined in the Defense Applications of 5G Network Technology report, which was published by the Defense Science Board. This federal committee gives scientific advice to the Pentagon. Their report states: “The emergence of 5G technology, now commercially available, offers the Department of Defense the opportunity to take advantage, at minimal cost, of the benefits of this system for its own operational requirements.”

The 5G commercial network that is being built by private companies right now can be used by the American military for a much lower cost than if the network had been set up exclusively for military purposes.

Military experts expect the 5G system to play a pivotal role in using hypersonic weapons. For example, it can be used for new missiles that bear nuclear warheads and travel at speeds superior to Mach 5. These hypersonic weapons, which travel at five times the speed of sound and move a mile per second, will be flying at high altitudes on unpredictable flight paths, making them as hard to guide as they will be to intercept.

Huge quantities of data need to be gathered and transmitted in a very short period in order to maneuver these warheads on variable trajectories and allow them to change direction in milliseconds to avoid interceptor missiles.

5G for defense

This type of technology is also needed to activate defenses should we be attacked by a weapon of this type; 5G automatic systems could theoretically handle decisions that humans won’t have enough time to make on their own. Military bases and even cities will have less than a minute to react to incoming hypersonic missiles, and 5G will make it easier to process real time data on trajectories for decision-making.

There are also important uses of this technology in combat. 5G’s ability to simultaneously link millions of transceivers will undoubtedly facilitate communication among military personnel and allow them to transmit photos, maps and other vital information about operations in progress at dizzying speeds to improve situational awareness.

The military can also take advantage of the high-frequency and short-wavelength millimeter wave spectrum used by 5G. Its short range means that it is well suited for smart military bases and command posts because the signal will not propagate too far, making it less likely that enemies will be able to detect it.

When it comes to special forces and secret services, the benefits of 5G are numerous. Its speed and connectivity will allow espionage systems to reach unprecedented levels of efficiency. It will also make drones more dangerous by allowing them to identify and target people using facial recognition and other methods.

Like all technology, 5G will also make us highly vulnerable. The network itself could become an attractive target for cyber-attacks and other acts of war being carried out with cutting-edge weaponry. In fact, the 5G network is already viewed as critical infrastructure and is being carefully protected before it is even fully built.

While the focus on 5G’s dangers to human health and the environment is absolutely warranted, it is also important not to lose sight of the military implications of 5G. After all, it is not just the United States that is developing this technology for military purposes; our enemies, like China and other countries, are also making great strides in this realm.

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