Herbfacts
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Christmas wellness: how to keep your energy levels up this festive season

The run up to Christmas can be hectic which can soon take a toll on your energy levels.

Editor Jane Garton suggests some fast fixes to help bring back your bounce all the way through December.

Take a morning walk

Woman taking a winter walk in snowy woodland

Consider ditching that mug of coffee first thing in the morning and go for a walk instead. Research shows that among other things it can energise body and mind, help you sleep better at night and help protect against heart problems. “Any form of walking during the day is good because it exposes you to daylight but striding out first in the morning seems to alert your body and brain to the fact that the day has started,” explains author and TV presenter Dr Michael Moseley. “Exposure to light suppresses the production of melatonin which is known as the sleep-inducing hormone and starts to make you feel wide awake,” he adds.

Breakfast well

A bowl of porridge wiht blueberries

In a similar way to an early morning walk breakfast can help to reset your internal body clock (aka your circadian rhythm). Getting into the habit of eating a healthy breakfast especially at this time of year can help replenish your energy stores, improve cognitive performance, and improve sleep patterns.

Go for a bowl of comforting porridge topped with berries to provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidant polyphenols. Blueberries are a nutritious option.

Sleep better

Woman hugging pillow whilst sleeping in bed

Getting enough sleep is very important to keep us on our toes and running on all cylinders in the mad rush to get everything done in time for the big day. What’s more it helps boost our immune system, helping us ward off the inevitable slew of winter bacterial and viral infections doing the rounds. A good starting point is to establish a regular getting-up and going-to-bed routine which, parties permitting, provides around eight hours shut-eye a night.

Creating a good sleep environment is also important. That means getting rid of anything that might distract you from slumber be it noises, bright lights, an uncomfortable bed or a TV or computer in the bedroom. And don’t be tempted to go late night shopping on line. Leave your mobile outside the bedroom door or downstairs.

A relaxing activity, such as a warm bath, reading or listening to music, should also be part of your bedtime ritual. Finally if you find it hard to drop off, a soothing cup of herbal tea could help to do the trick. Camomile, valerian, passionflower or lovely lavender are all good choices.

Check your diet

Range of food showing macros and micros to show a balanced diet

While this is not the time to think about fad diets in the hope of squeezing into that little black dress, sticking to a healthy eating plan may help you lose a few pre-Christmas kilos. Go for regular meals containing a balance of protein, complex carbohydrates, such as wholegrain cereals, dairy foods, such as milk, yoghurt and cheese, a rainbow of fresh vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water – staying hydrated can help you feel more alert.

Get back to nature

Image of a parkland with bue sky in winter

Study after study shows that time spent outside especially in green spaces is good for us and can help to lower our risk of a range of problems from type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease to stress and high blood pressure. It can also help counteract feelings of exhaustion as well as boost energy levels and lift the mood.

So, take a break from Christmas shopping and head off to your local park, woodlands, or National Trust gardens. Time spent in the garden if you have one can also be good for you. And remember, spending as little as 17 minutes a day in the big outdoors can be beneficial.

Natural support

There are a range of natural herbal supplements which can help support your energy and mood.

Rhodiola rosea

Close up of the rhodiola plant

Rhodiola has been shown to help beat fatigue as well as improve mental performance, especially the ability to concentrate. It has also been shown to help reduce stress in people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.

St John’s wort

ST John's Wort flower with bright blue sky background

Feeling down in the dumps and don’t know why? The good news is a course of St John’s wort, often known as the sunshine herb, may be all that’s needed to bring back the smile to your face. It is not known exactly how it works but it is thought to help prolong the action of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin – a deficiency of which can result in depression and low energy.

Ginseng

Ginseng root

Looking for something to give you a quick boost to kick-start you into festive action? Try ginseng. Long regarded as something of a wonder drug, it is a highly respected herbal tonic, which, hopefully, will give your body the injection of energy you are looking for.

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