The silly season is well and truly upon us. Christmas parties, school holidays, family gatherings, Santa photos and Christmas shopping – it can all get a little bit hectic at this time of year. The festive season also brings with it many opportunities for over-indulgence in celebratory foods, alcoholic drinks and late nights, and it can be difficult to maintain our usual health and fitness routines.
Here are a few tips to help you look after yourself – both physically and emotionally – during this notoriously busy (and frequently stressful) period.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle that accompanies the weeks leading up to Christmas. It’s not uncommon to find yourself postponing or completely forgetting about appointments you’ve made at this time of year! If you are due to see your GP or chiropractor in Queenscliff this month, make sure you do set aside time for an appointment – that way you can stay on top of any niggling or ongoing health issues that might affect your ability to enjoy yourself over the Christmas and New Year period.
Parties and family gatherings make it easy to push aside your existing exercise routine, and the late nights can leave you feeling tired and unmotivated. Whether it is a daily dose of yoga, bike riding, or taking the dog for a walk, do try to stick to your regular exercise regime as much as possible over the Christmas period. This will not only help to burn off those inevitable extra Christmas kilojoules, it will also get your endorphins pumping – helping to combat any stress or negative feelings you might be experiencing at this busy time of year.
Increased alcohol and coffee intake, combined with warmer weather and a busy Christmas schedule, is a recipe for dehydration. Make sure you are drinking at least eight glasses of water a day. This will stop you feeling tired, keep your body hydrated, and help flush any toxins out of your system.
A good night’s sleep gives your body a chance to regain energy and repair itself after a long day. Make sure you allow yourself some early nights at home, free of any distractions, to ensure a decent, restorative sleep in between all the festive fun.
You certainly don’t want to deprive yourself at Christmas time, but you also don’t want to go overboard and overload your plate with a mountain of food at every opportunity! Enjoy a little bit of everything you love, and really take the time to chew and enjoy your food. Chewing food thoroughly helps to slow down the eating process, and gives our brain a chance to keep up with our stomach – telling us when we are full. Eating slowly and mindfully also helps to optimise the digestion and absorption of the food we are eating.
As a rule of thumb, the amount of sugar in a couple of pieces of fruit, plus a teaspoon of refined sugar or honey is as much as the body can generally cope with in one day. Any excess tends to wind up on your hips and belly, and will leave you feeling tired and lethargic once the sugar high wears off. In regards to alcohol, stick to one or two standard drinks in a day, and aim for at least three alcohol-free days per week.
Trying to keep up with a hectic Christmas schedule – madly rushing around to attend multiple events – will leave you feeling physically exhausted. It’s ok to say no when you need to or want to.
While it’s important to spend time with loved ones at this time of year, it’s just as important to take some time out for yourself. Try to set aside time for a relaxing, stress-reducing activity each day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. This could be listening to music that makes you feel calm, going for a walk, taking a bath, doing some breathing exercises, reading a book you enjoy, or completing a mindfulness meditation or relaxation exercise.
A high quality therapeutic massage can do wonders for your body and mind at this time of year, helping to reduce muscle tension and releasing endorphins – the body’s natural feel-good hormones – into your system.
Many people fall into the trap of trying to create the “perfect” Christmas. This can lead to feelings of overwhelming stress and anxiety, which is then exacerbated by the pressure to feel “joyful” and “merry” at this time of year. Be realistic about what you are able to achieve, and share the responsibilities as much as you can. If you feel you “must” do certain things (like make everything from scratch, or host an enormous get-together at your home), ask yourself why. Who are you really doing this for? What would happen if you didn’t do it? Slow down, give yourself a break, and focus on creating a calm, healthful Christmas experience, as opposed to a stressful, mentally exhausting “perfect” event.