There isn’t a time in the calendar year where our bodies, our health, our bank balance, our patience and our general wellbeing is put under as much pressure as it is during the festive period.
This is the time of year when there is the most need to look after ourselves, nourish our bodies, take time to be still and yet this is the time of year when all of the above is most likely to go out of the window.
We tend to drink more alcohol (any excuse for a social festive gathering), exercise less (hard to fit it in or find the energy and motivation), eat a less nutritious diet (office parties, buffets, missing meals etc), and consequently often get less sleep (and that which we do manage to bank is often poor quality thanks to alcohol and too much caffeine).
With all of this happening, we wonder why by the time that Christmas day comes along, we are exhausted, drained on every level, emotionally fragile and just want to go to bed. Our tolerance for family politics is very low and perhaps burning the carrots is enough to trigger some tears.
Let’s make this Christmas different.
How? By changing the one thing that we can…how well we take care of our bodies and of our minds.
I am a firm believer that feeling great relies on a few key things: eating well, drinking plenty of water, getting enough good quality sleep, getting out in the fresh air and sunshine and taking some quiet/still time ‘out’ for you. Following these steps will hopefully help you to reach Christmas day with an inner glow as opposed to having totally burnt out.
Here are my top tips for getting to Christmas day with a glow:
- Watch your alcohol intake carefully and ensure that you have at least 2 alcohol free days per week. Your liver needs a rest. Keep units within recommended limits by alternating soft and alcoholic drinks and always avoid drinking on an empty stomach.
- Choose your Christmas parties/gatherings wisely. Not only will they eat into your bank balance, but they take their toll on your health. Pick the ones that you really want to go to, with friends that you really value and who make you feel happy. Ditch the rest. Your time and your energy levels are precious and in limited supply.
- Plan your meals to ensure that healthy eating doesn’t go out of the window along with free time and energy. Plenty of healthy store cupboard staples for speedy meals will avoid the takeaway trap or, even worse, skipping meals and just nibbling crisps and canapés all night. Baked potato with tuna and salad OR lentil soup OR baked salmon with vegetables are all simple, fast and nutritious. Be prepared with some healthy snacks too, just in case you end up hungry and faced with a chocolate vending machine! Nuts, seeds, dried fruit, fresh fruit and smoothies made in the morning are all great.
- Schedule in at least one quiet time each week where you just walk, meditate, do some yoga stretches, read a book or anything that is quiet and that calms you. Block out a time in your diary and stick to it.
- Be careful of the creeping caffeine habit. The more tired we feel, the more coffee we drink (that’s how I tend to work anyway!) but this can disrupt precious sleep and isn’t a helpful habit to get into. Experiment with fresh mint tea, fresh ginger tea and hot water with fresh lemon slices.
- Get outdoors and breathe in some fresh air. Walk, run, cycle, SUP, whatever you fancy, just get outdoors.
- Drink plenty of water. Invest in a water bottle – I love my stainless steel old school SIGG flask and I have a new glass one, both of which come with me wherever I go to keep myself well hydrated. This makes a big difference.
Sticking to as many of these as possible will help you to reach Christmas with a wonderful inner glow – no burn-out in sight – and hopefully a little more energy to enjoy this fantastic time of the year!
With this in mind, enjoy your celebrations! Go easy on the portions and remember that although Christmas is to be enjoyed and that includes lots of yummy food, do bear in mind that Christmas lasts only for 1 day so come Boxing Day, reign in the portions and try to balance your meals with a bit of outdoor exercise. Life and health is all about balance and this is one of the cornerstones of a great Christmas.
Merry Christmas and I wish you a healthy and happy 2019.
Faith Toogood, dietician, wife and mother of two girls based in Cornwall with a simple philosophy and approach to wellness – balance. faithtoogood.com