Christmas can be such a magical time of year. It’s a chance to celebrate good fortune, spend quality time with family and friends, and enjoy delicious holiday treats. However, it can also be quite a stressful time––especially in the lead up to Christmas. We often find ourselves juggling Christmas shopping, decorating, busier work schedules, and various holiday parties. More often than not, the most wonderful time of the year isn’t the most relaxing. We’ve compiled some of our favourite tips to help you stay happy and healthy this holiday season.
Staying properly hydrated sounds like common sense, but often when we are busy we forget to drink enough water. According to a survey from the RNLI, a whopping 89% of Britons are dehydrated. Even mild dehydration can lead to headaches and lethargy. The NHS recommends that we consume around 6-8 glasses daily, that’s about 1.5 to 2 litres of water. Things like herbal teas and juices also qualify as part of your daily intake.
Many people find that, with all the seasonal socialising, their alcohol consumption increases over Christmas. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases the amount of water and salt your body expels. This in mind, it’s important to make a conscious effort to drink extra water to compensate and help you recover.
Maintain Healthy Habits
Even though life gets busier over the holiday season, it’s important to keep up with the good habits we practice during the rest of the year. Remember to take things like vitamins and supplements, if they’re part of your daily routine. If you usually make an effort to go to the gym, do your best to keep it up despite a hectic holiday schedule. If you work hard to be mindful about your snacking, keep trying to opt for healthier options. The key is maintaining whatever healthy habits you have in place.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
In amongst all the festivities, it’s still important to get some solid shut-eye. A good night’s sleep is a key factor in how well your body functions. Fighting off illness, converting short to long-term memories, emotional processing, maintaining good physical health… It’s all affected by sleep.
During the holidays, our routines are often thrown out of whack. We may travel to different time zones. We likely experience increased stress levels. We might drink more alcohol and caffeine. We often eat more sugary and rich foods. All these things can affect a proper night’s sleep. To help, try to avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol too late in the day. Use sleep aids, like CBD, night time teas, and essential waters and oils to help de-stress and encourage sleep.
Practice Some Self-Care
Christmas is a time of joy, but we all know that it sometimes feels quite stressful. Though we enjoy spending time with family and friends, it can be overwhelming. Taking time out for yourself over Christmas can make a big difference, bringing relaxation and calm to a busy mind. Carve out some time to meditate or pursue a hobby that you enjoy. It will give you a chance to unwind, re-centre, and even reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. It will also likely enable you to be more present when you spend time with loved ones.
Be A Mindful Eater
Holidays are infamously a time of over-indulgence. It’s so easy when there are sweet treats aplenty and delicious holiday foods we only get once a year. To be a bit more mindful this holiday season, start by eating normal portion sizes. It’s also a good idea to wait 20 minutes before going in for that second helping––that’s generally how long it takes for your body to register it’s full. Opt for plenty of green veggies at Christmas dinner. Try to go for healthier snack choices like fruit and nuts, when available, over mince pies and chocolate.
It’s also important to be mindful of your sugar and salt intake. A single glass of mulled wine has about 14g of sugar––that’s 15% of your recommended daily intake. Along with other sugary treats, like sweets, chocolates, and baked goods, it’s best enjoyed in moderation.
Salt is another ingredient to be mindful of this Christmas. The average Christmas dinner can contain over 15g of salt––the NHS recommends eating no more than 6g daily. If you’re cooking try switching salt for savoury herbs, which are full of flavour. If you’re eating out, try skipping foods with cheese, bacon or cream. Keep sauces and gravy to a minimum, and choose the roasted turkey or baked ham over anything deep fried and breaded.
If you’re still struggling with discomfort from too much rich food, try some digestive aids and probiotics. These can help your body get back into its regular rhythm. Supplements like Slippery Elm can also help with digestion and heartburn.
Protect Your Immune System
Many of us travel and socialise more over the Christmas period than at other times of the year. In fact, by 2017 estimates, Brits travelled a collective 5.6 billion miles to visit 257 million friends and relatives. With this much travel, cold and flu viruses spread much more easily; especially as we all tend to congregate indoors. Our bodies have to fight an increased number of germs during the holiday season.
In order to keep yourself healthy, it’s important to get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, and make sure to take your vitamins. Echinacea teas are also great immunity support. Research shows that echinacea boosts your white blood cell count, which helps your body fight illness.
Indulge in Seasonal Superfoods
At Christmas dinner, grab a good helping of brussel sprouts. They are known to be very high in nutrients like fibre, Vitamins C and K, and rich in antioxidants––all of which support immunity.
Grab a piece of fruit whenever possible (all those clementine stocking fillers)––a good rule of thumb is that the brighter the colour of the fruit, the more rich in nutrients.
Turkey is a lean, high protein meat. It’s full of B vitamins and high in the amino acid tryptophan (which is known for making you feel sleepy). Your body converts tryptophan into serotonin, which helps control your mood and helps with sleep.
Chestnuts have the lowest fat content of all the nuts. They also have a good helping of magnesium, which is a natural mood stabiliser and relaxant.
Cranberries are high in vitamin C and polyphenols, which help reduce the risk of heart disease. However, traditional cranberry sauce is often really high in sugar. To keep it healthy, try making your own cranberry sauce at home.
Cinnamon is a great source of iron and calcium, both of which help with the production of red blood cells. They are also key nutrients for maintaining a strong immune system.
While it might be tempting to sit around and watch Christmas movies, it’s really important to keep active over the holidays. Try rallying the relatives for a nice family walk, or kicking around that new football. Not only does exercise help you burn off some of the rich Christmas foods, but it also boosts your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. This makes it an effective and natural way to combat any holiday stress and anxiety.
Researchers believe that a 10-minute walk can do just as much good for your stress levels and mental health as a 45-minute workout. Additionally, because it calms anxiety and stress, exercise can help you get a better night’s sleep.
Christmas is about spending time with the people we care about, but the demands of the holiday can make it stressful. That said, with a little bit of planning and some more mindful choices, it can be relaxed and enjoyable. Dive into some of the seasonal superfoods rather than indulging in too many sweet treats. Indulge in moderation. Try and stay active, and do your best to get a proper sleep every night. With these little tips, you’re sure to be healthy, merry and bright all season long.