Have a Mold-Free Holiday by Managing Stress and Environmental Triggers
During this season of food, festivities, decorations, family time, and gift-giving, it is important for those navigating mold and environmental illness to find practical ways to steer away from symptom triggers, added stress, and anxiety while not feeling isolated and left out of the holiday cheer. Easier said than done, I know. There are expectations, things you want to do, people you want to see, but giving yourself permission to safeguard your health is vital to your recovery. If you read no further in this post, please read this: It takes a lot of effort to regain and maintain your health after mold—ongoing mold avoidance and mold hygiene just scratch the surface. Tossing all of your hard work by the wayside during the holidays doesn’t bring freedom, unfortunately. In fact, it can create additional stress on both your mind and body. This does not mean that you can’t enjoy the holidays, though! You CAN enjoy the holidays like you used to—before the mold—I promise. You just have to identify your holiday symptom triggers, open your mind, and embark upon some mold-specific preparation.
Before I break things down and give you what I am calling my “Holiday Hacks for Moldies,” I want you to know that I totally understand and can relate to wherever you are in your healing process and journey with mold. When you have been debilitated and hit hard by mold, NOTHING and I mean NOTHING seems straightforward or easy anymore. Further, NOWHERE, and I mean NOWHERE feels safe anymore either. Just going to a holiday party, or having relatives and friends come to visit are not the routine, seasonal occurrences that they used to be. Those events become quite loaded and stressful, because you don’t know what you are walking into, or what people are bringing in with them on their clothing and things. Sometimes, the littlest things can send your body reeling from a “mold hit”. These uncertainties can make the holidays feel twice as hard in terms of maintaining your health. Then, there is the added pressure during the holidays to be as “normal” as possible, so as not to let anyone down. Parents especially want to “do all of the holiday things”, so that their children don’t feel weird or left out. Whatever your case or situation, you don’t have to get sick again every holiday season and experience setbacks in your mental fortitude about ever being “normal” again. The madness can stop, and I want to help.
Identifying Mold Symptom Triggers
To start, it is important to identify your major symptom triggers. For me, last year, was the first time since getting us safely back into our home, that I began picking apart the pieces of the holidays that seemed to cause me the most stress and revive my symptoms. Not surprisingly, when I mapped it out, I found a list of pretty straightforward culprits.
My Holiday Triggers:
- Christmas Decorations and Scents
- Houseguests–baggage, suitcases, and clothing
- Holiday Food/Alcohol
- Attending parties in settings with poor air quality and/or mold
I realize that nothing on my lists seems earth-shatteringly insightful, but it is easy to forget that during the months of November and December each year, all of these things pile up and are combined. Taking one hit like that after another, especially when your body has already been immune comprised, can lead to an inflammation cascade, and sometimes major sickness again. A good indicator that holidays are a problem for you is to think about underlying viruses, infections, or autoimmune conditions—herpes, Epstein Barr, Lyme, ulcerative colitis, etc. If you also suffer with any of these conditions and find that you have an outbreak or recurrence right after or during the holidays, you are likely being hit harder than what your immune system can reasonable manage during that time. I know my colitis always returned with vengeance right after Christmas. In my opinion, the predictable arrival of such a serious issue was not something I was willing to ignore anymore.
So, if the first step is identifying the problems, then the subsequent steps should involve solving those problems, right? So, I am going to help you do just that. I am going to go down my list and map out the exact ways that I have learned to handle each trigger.
My Unofficial Guide for Hacking the Holidays When Mold is a Health Concern:
Solutions for Reactions to Christmas Décor and Scents:
- When mold is a concern, it is best to stick with artificial trees, wreaths, and garlands. Using artificial items instead of live prevents the outdoor pollens and molds from entering your home, and you do not have to have the standing water in a tree stand inside for weeks on end that you have to have with a live tree. I have also found that fogging these items with EC3 and the Sanitizer fogger each season prevents anyone in our home from reacting to dust or dirt they can pick up during storage.
- If you are a live tree person and cannot part with tradition—my husband is a live tree guy, so I get it—there are some things you can do to prevent mold in your home. First, we fog the tree in our garage BEFORE bringing it inside. We also place a large sheet of 6 mm plastic to cover the floor where the tree stand will sit. This prevents water from getting the wood floor if there is an overflow or a spill. Then, I add CitriDrops Dietary Supplement to the water each time in the tree stand. For example, I add 8 drops per liter of water. This prevents mold and bacteria from growing in the water and releasing spores into the air. I also diligently vacuum up tree needles each day. I find that our trees don’t dry out as quickly too.
- For storage, purchase waterproof artificial tree bags to store fake Christmas trees in between uses. This was a huge step in the right direction for us. Our fake tree, yes, we have one fake and one live, is too large to store in plastic bins. The plastic tree bags are the right shape and size to cover the entire tree and to seal to keep out dust and debris while the tree is stored and not being used between seasons.
- For ornaments and décor, I make myself a bunch of Mold Wipes, or have EC3 Spray and a clean towel ready. As I take each item out, I wipe it down before placing it out or on the tree. We steer away from fabric or paper ornaments, opting for porcelain, glass, or metal instead. These are easier to clean and don’t become food for mold.
- We store all ornaments, wreaths, and holiday items in plastic sealable bins. Get rid of any boxes! Often, these items are kept in attics, closets, and basements where they accumulate dust and sometimes moisture. If you store them in plastic bins, they are sealed away from the dirt, dust, and mold and won’t be bringing it into your home each holiday season.
- We also burn EC3 Candles on our mantle all throughout the holiday season to keep mold counts down to non-inflammatory levels indoors. I try to burn the candles for a least an hour a day for optimum maintenance. Moving a portable air purifier into your rooms with décor is also helpful as that will keep dust and VOCs to a minimum.
- We avoid scented sprays, potpourris, and candles in our home. If we receive those items as gifts, we gratefully receive them and put them aside to donate to our church and local shelter for their holiday festivities. Perfumes and scented things can be very inflammatory for mold sufferers, so if you feel comfortable sharing, it is helpful to tell friends and family that your home is a scent-free zone, so that you don’t have to worry with it. Also, portable air purifiers with a carbon filter stage, like an IQ Air, are tremendously helpful for scents. The carbon absorbs and eliminates the VOCs faster than they would disperse naturally.
Solutions for Mold Being Brought in by Houseguests, Baggage, Suitcases, and Clothing:
- Before guests arrive, set out baskets, bins, or have cubbies where they can place their shoes before or upon entering your home. Removing shoes is helpful in preventing tracking in mold and bacteria. Let everyone know you are a “no shoes home.” When people are your guests, they rarely argue.
- If guests have suitcases and baggage, my husband and I welcome them at the door. He offers to handle their things as I show them in. We fog https://microbalancehealthproducts.com/products/ec3-laundry-additive.html?rfsn=1018830.ca4fbsuitcases and bags in the garage and then bring them inside. Most of our immediate family knows why we do this and fully accepts it. If you have issues, just let them know that you are extremely mold sensitive and do it to stay well. I have never had any issues—just a lot of curiosity.
- I make a body wash with 8 ounces of Dr. Bronner’s and 2 ounces of EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate and place it in our guest bathroom. I also place unscented shampoo and conditioner in there for my guests to use. It looks nice and inviting, and helps prevent the use of scented products in our home. I also burn EC3 Candles during gatherings and fog when guests leave. After fogging, I use my Miele HEPA vacuum on floors, rugs, and furniture. I also wash guests’ bedding, towels, clothing with EC3 Laundry Additive. I like to steam mop the floor in the guest bathroom and bedroom after guests leave as well. The steam is a natural way to combat bacteria and mold.
Solutions for Symptoms Brought on by Holiday Food/Alcohol:
- At parties, I steer first towards less processed, whole foods, like meat, veggies, and fruits. I try to limit my carbs and sugars as much as possible, since my stress level is higher, and I am more prone to Candida. If I am not sure what they will have at someone’s home or at a party, I eat a substantial snack before I leave home. One of my favorites is a turkey lettuce wrap with salsa and avocado. I also stick things like clean, gluten-free protein bars, or macadamia nuts in my purse. That way, if I am starving and can’t find something I can eat at the party, I can sneak bites or handfuls of nuts to hold myself over. I try to make a plate and socialize as much as possible, though, because you don’t want to isolate yourself.
- Candida/yeast has a sugar receptor. When it is exposed to sugar, it morphs into the aggressive, hyphal form. Stress tends to decrease stomach acid production as well, which can also contribute to yeast overgrowth. Keep this in mind, and do what you can to eat things that don’t cause yeast growth. Taking a digestive enzyme before meals can also be helpful.
- Bringing a dish that works for your dietary requirements is also helpful, because, if all else fails, you can eat what you brought. Doug Kaufmann of Know the Cause has some great cookbooks and recipes on his site. I love making his Ranch Dressing and bringing a big bowl of it with a raw veggie platter to a party. With the internet at your fingertips, you can search for just about any dietary requirements and find something you can make and bring.
- I make a special effort to make and drink a green smoothie each day during the holidays. I pack as many veggies as I can into it. I also include chlorella, spirulina, and a grain-free vegan protein powder. Having that in my system makes my cells come alive and gives my body a hydration and nutrition boost. It also helps me to detox any toxins or poor-quality foods I am eating.
- If you aren’t steering clear from alcohol, it is okay to have a glass of wine, or a cocktail, but keep sugar intake to a minimum otherwise. I also like Fit Vine Wines, and Dry Farm Wines, because they taste phenomenal, but don’t contain high sugar. Pairing alcohol with high-quality protein snacks, and ample hydration helps mitigate its effects. I try to drink 8 ounces of water each time I have an alcoholic beverage.
- Sparking water and seltzer with a lime, lemon, or orange slice are great options at a party to an alcoholic beverage. I often brink some coconut LaCroix to put in the fridge or the party cooler. It gives me something to drink the whole time I’m there. I always have a drink in my hand, and don’t feel like I’m not part of the festivities. Even better is to add a few drops of Angostura bitters to your seltzer water. This spurs bile production and flow and helps metabolism and digestion.
- I often take a gentle binder and a high-quality probiotic each evening. I like Bulletproof’s Coconut Charcoal, and Ortho Biotic. This will help you to maintain a healthy gut microbiome and will gather and help your body excrete toxins more efficiently. I also love Dr. Zach Bush’s Ion Gut Health. It has helped my colitis tremendously and has kept yeast issues to a minimum for me, along with a healthy diet, of course.
- Be vigilant about hydration. Your body will often think it is hungry, when thirst is the real driver. Mold toxicity creates issues with fluid balance—think insatiable thirst, but peeing constantly, because fluid absorption is off. I find that supplementing with a potent mineral blend helps keep mineral levels where they need to be and decreases my risk of dehydration. My favorite products for this are IntraMin, Quinton, and Vital Earth’s Fulvic Humic Blend.
Solutions for Travel:
- For travel, I have a few older posts that I think you will find help. HERE is a post on holiday travel. It contains my tips and tricks for staying well. HERE is a post on hotel stays. All of the tips are also appropriate for stays with family members and friends. Finally, HERE is a post on PURE Rooms. They are a company who work with major hotel chains to create chemical free rooms with better air quality. It is worth checking into if you are going to be staying in hotels during the holidays.
Solutions for Attending Parties in Settings with Poor Air Quality or Mold:
If you have to be in someone’s home or in a space with poor air quality or mold for a shorter amount of time, I find the following things to be very helpful:
- Getting lots of fresh air and nutrient-rich food before going to minimize toxic exposures in the same day;
- Bringing a travel-size EC3 Spray to spray body and shoes when you leave BEFORE getting in your car;
- Abstaining from sugary foods and alcohol in bad environments. Moldy air and sugar are a terrible combo for me. I would rather go hungry than feel the immediate brain fog;
- Spraying my nose with CitriDrops Nasal Spray as soon as I leave. This helps to eliminate the mold spores from my nasal passages BEFORE they can make their way to my sinuses to cross the blood-brain barrier;
- Throwing my clothes straight into the wash with a mild detergent and EC3 Laundry Additive as soon as I get home;
- Taking a shower and washing my body and hair before I get into the bed;
- Taking some digestive bitters followed in 10 minutes by a binder before going to bed. This helps to push toxins to the small intestine, where they can then be bound, and excreted from the body. Jumping all over it really seems to help me.
I think that should cover it! But, I am also sure I have left something out. As always, feel free to comment below or to email me at email@example.com with specific questions or concerns. Happy Holidays to You!