This year’s Christmas is going to be quite different. Keeping healthy and virus free will be high up on our priority lists but with a little bit of extra care there is no reason why we can’t still have some fun.
Editor Jane Garton looks at ways to boost your wellbeing as the festive season gets underway.
Mince pies, stollen cake and chocolate are an essential part of festive fare for many of us but the secret is not to waste too many calories on ‘nutrient- low’ foods. Instead tuck into those that are just as sweet but more nutritionally rich – think satsumas, tangerines and mandarins or a lovely warm winter fruit salad. That way you’ll be getting many more beneficial vitamins and minerals as well as fibre to help keep you feeling full.
Sitting down, eating slowly and savouring the taste, smell and texture of food will also help you become aware of what your body really needs.
Watch that tipple
The last thing we want is a festive hangover. But let’s face it, in the pre-Christmas weeks and with zoom parties and so on it can be difficult to avoid and is one area of Christmas this year that probably won’t be that different from other years.
The best avoidance tactic is not to over-indulge in the first place. The secret is to alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks and to drink plenty of water before you go to bed. If you are unlucky enough to wake up with a pounding headache drink lots more water and some fresh fruit juice to rehydrate you as well as taking a painkiller or even some rehydration salts.
Too little sleep can affect all areas of your life – it can leave you feeling tired, irritated and low in mood. But most important right now, getting enough sleep is essential for your immune system to work at its best.
Seven to nine hours sleep seems to be the optimum amount for most of us but most experts agree it not so much the amount of time that matters but rather whether you wake up feeling refreshed and stay alert during the day.
There’s no denying that the events of the last few months have been stressful and the run up to Christmas and the actual day itself are likely to bring their share of festive stress too.
One of the best things you can do is stick to a routine – establish a time for getting up and one for going to bed and aim to keep to them. Try to keep your thoughts in the present as much as you can rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about what the future might hold.
Meanwhile, make time for relaxation on a daily basis, whether it be meditation or something as simple as soaking in the bath. Try listening to music, dance to your favourite music, go for a walk or read a book.
If your anxieties start to overwhelm don’t keep them to yourself. It is easy to get overwhelmed in our own pattern of negative thoughts, so talking these though with a friend or family member can help break those cycles. Find someone you trust, then sit down somewhere quiet and chat openly and honestly about your feelings and your concerns.
Spend as much time as you can outside. Study after study shows the physical and mental benefits of spending time in nature are significant. Whether it’s a walk or ramble in the country or a gentle jog round your local park, make time for the outdoors every day over the Christmas period and beyond.
Infusing your house with the sweet scent of essential oils can be therapeutic as well as soothing to the senses. Simply add five to ten drops of an essential oil to burners or diffusers and put them in strategic places throughout the house.
The oils you choose depends largely on the mood you want to create. As a general rule neroli and rose are soothing, peppermint, clove and ginger re-energising and sandalwood or ylang ylang softly sensual. And for a seasonal touch try frankincense or myrrh.
Just because you may not be able to get together in person with certain friends and family doesn’t mean you can’t see them at Christmas. Email everyone a Zoom link and host a party online.
Ask them to bring a bottle and to dress up in festive gear. Make sure you’ve got a few games and conversation starters ready too. Alternatively a Christmas themed quiz could put everyone in the mood. And don’t forget anyone you know who is spending Christmas alone. Pick up your mobile and have a good chat or you could even send a virtual present.
Echinacea is an immune-supporting herb that can help stop those bugs taking hold or shorten a cold if one does develop.
Milk Thistle may help when you’ve overdone it, whether that’s with food or booze. It can provide relief from the symptoms of overindulgence such as indigestion and stomach upset.
Rhodiola is great for boosting energy when you’re flagging.
St John’s wort
Sometimes known as the sunshine herb, St John’s Wort can help lift your mood if you start to feel the blues.