December season has once again snuck up on us and if you’re worried about over-indulging, feeling too exhausted or overwhelmed to enjoy the festivities and anxious about constantly overeating, you are definitely not alone.
Historically December is a busy month: getting ready to wrap up the year at work, making sure all gifts arrive in time for Christmas and multiple Christmas parties in a week can easily imbalance the immune system, drain energy away and make festivities a chain on never-ending stress, rather than a pleasure that it’s suppose to be.
It’s all too easy to put health and self-care on the back burner. However, if you want to enter the New
Year, January and the New Decade on the high and stay there, you might need to take a couple of steps to make sure December runs smoothly.
Check out some of the simple things you can do to lower the classic festive health setbacks.
Eat breakfast, always
Even if you had a massive Christmas meal the night before or had plenty of alcohol, still have a small breakfast to start the day. During festivities, it is too easy to get out of balance by skipping meals and getting into a chaotic routine with food, which in turn brings your blood sugar out of whack. Make sure you stick to daily breakfast, you will thank yourself in January!
There’s a herbal tea for everything
It is super important to consistently keep drinking around 2- 2.5l of fluids during the festive season, however from my practice I know that it’s not always that appealing to drink pints of cold water when it’s dark and grey outside and we seek warm comfort. In the winter months, swap water for herbal teas for extra comfort.
There’s a bunch of herbals teas to choose from that can support your health this festive season- choose peppermint to help reduce bloating, ginger and lemon if you’re feeling under the weather or chamomile if you’re struggling with sleep.
Make protein a priority
If you’re waking up sluggish and are having mince pies, cakes and bread to keep you going, chances are you could benefit from some extra protein. Make sure you have some extra egg, fish or turkey with your main meals or add nuts, seeds and tofu if you’re vegetarian/ vegan. Not only will protein help stabilise your overall energy, but may also support sleep and help reduce anxiety.
Take time out
It seems like when you are least able to take some time for yourself, this is when it may be the most important time to do exactly so. You are not a machine with unlimited flow of energy and mental power, you certainly need to rest and restore to keep going. I’m not talking about having a luxurious 2h bath every night, but I’m sure you could benefit with a quiet 10min break with a cup of tea and no technology in sight or delegating some gift-wrapping or house work just to put your feet up for a little while and give your body what it’s asking of you (without any guilt!).
December is an unfortunate cocktail of enormous queues and delays, tasty foods everywhere and unplanned scenarios. Things ought to go the complete opposite to how it was planned and you can’t always do much about it. However, to save yourself from getting ravenously hungry and overeating later, you can get ahead and prepare. Make sure you always have quality snacks available in your bag, at work or in your can. If you wonder what those may be, download the ‘21 snacks to never go ‘Hangry’ again’ to give you ideas.
Don’t ditch your greens
Let’s face it, Christmas and the festive season is a time of a lot of beige food available. Although tasty and exciting for a few times, after consumed regularly even just for a few days or a week it will make you feel sluggish and lethargic as your greens, yellows and reds (and the rest of the rainbow) are where the most potent antioxidants live. And you certainly need those during festivities!
If you don’t fancy brussel sprouts, make sure you order a side salad with your meals or bring in a
selection of roast autumn vegetables with your lunches. Don’t wait till January to give your body what it truly needs.
Go easy on the booze
By no means I’m saying be boring and be the only one, who’s not drinking in the Christmas party. But be a smart drinker and be aware of your limits. How do you want to feel the next day? Are the extra 3 drinks really are so much more fun that it’s worth sacrificing a few days ahead for hangover?
Make sure you drink with your meals or after, rather than on an empty stomach and sip water between your drinks to help the body detoxify alcohol easier.
Roam in nature
Even if it’s pouring outside and it’s grey, head out with no phone for at least 10-15min daily to clear your head and get some fresh air. Nature is the best medicine in terms of supporting mental health, so aim for spending less time on the phone and get some short nature breaks in your day for good measure.
Remember quality ZZZs
During the dark months of the winter we’re supposed to sleep more, not less. So if work and life commitments are stealing your precious sleep time, you need to be vigilant about getting the extra quality sleep that your body needs. Aim for 7-9h of sleep in the winter and avoiding missing a few hours of sleep in consecutive nights, as it will negatively impact your mental health, boost sugar cravings and improve stress response. Not exactly what you need as the next Christmas party is approaching.
Learn to start saying no. NO to seeing toxic relatives when possible (or at least reduce the visit time), NO to the third mince pie when you know you’re almost bursting and NO to taking on extra unpaid work, because you think you should, although you are exhausted and just about getting through the day. Although it’s not always easy, let go of guilt of what others think or don’t, if your body is screaming to stop and rest.
And most of all, enjoy what Christmas and festivities have to bring. It’s about getting together, reconnecting to people and having a joyful time. So if food is a big issue for you, try to focus on the activities, the people and the connections and make sure you enjoy yourself!