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Stay well this festive season: top health tips for a happier Christmas

Indigestion, hangovers, fatigue and stress are rife at this time of year. But you don’t have to succumb to festive niggles. ’Tis the season to be jolly, after all!

Editor Jane Garton explores ways to help you have the healthiest, happiest Christmas ever.

Sniffles and sneezes

You’ve been battling to keep the bugs at bay but to no avail – you’re sniffing and sneezing and feeling below par. Perhaps not that surprising when you realise there are more than 200 different cold viruses, which thrive in stuffy crowded places such as clubs and party venues. So unless you become a festive stay-at-home there’s every chance you will catch a bug before the party season has run its course.

Woman blowing her nose with a cold at Christmas

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At the first sign of a sneeze reach out for some echinacea. Studies show it can help to keep the bugs at bay. The reason? Its leaves are full of active ingredients that have anti-viral and antibiotic properties. Echinacea can help shorten or prevent the course of an acute infection and stop colds and flu developing into more serious problems such as sinusitis, bronchitis or middle ear infections.

Hangover from hell

So, you meant to stick to soft drinks or at least alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. But the champagne looked so tempting and then one glass turned to several and before you knew it, any hope of minimising the booze had gone out the window.

Woman with head in hands at Christmas to repesent a hangover headache

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There’s no point beating yourself up – the damage is done. So, if you did have one too many and have woken up with a hangover the only thing you can do is nurse it. Whatever you do, resist the temptation to have a hair of a dog. It may make you feel better in the short term, but you’ll pay for it later.

Rehydration is the name of the recovery game so drink plenty of water and have a healthy breakfast. Good options include scrambled eggs made with semi-skimmed milk on a slice of multigrain toast with some grilled tomatoes. This is easy to digest and will supply carbohydrate to boost blood sugar levels plus antioxidants to help minimise liver damage. Head still pounding? Take a leaf out of the book of the ancient Egyptians and drink a couple of pints of cabbage water.

Overwhelming fatigue

Christmas is meant to be fun but shopping, partying, and tying up loose ends at work can quickly run down your natural energy stores. Before you know it you have turned into a pre-Christmas zombie.

A close up of a man and woman in Christmas hats lyingon the floor with eyes closed to repesent Christmas fatigue and tiredness

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If exhaustion starts to overwhelm you need to take stock. Getting plenty of sleep is key, which means not burning the midnight oil every night of the week. Extracts of rhodiola, an alpine plant from the East, are also worth a try. They are thought to have anti-fatigue, anti-stress, antioxidant and immune-enhancing effects. Studies also show they can help improve mental and physical performance under stress

Bloating and indigestion

It can be hard to resist all that party food, but it can leave you over full, bloated and in need of relief.

Close up on woman with hands on tummy wearing a christmas jumper to represent indigestion

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A good dose of artichoke extracts can help things run smoothly through the festive season. Artichoke extracts are thought to help the digestive process by stimulating the production of bile and helping to break down and eliminate fatty foods and alcohol from the body. They can be taken daily as a protective measure over Christmas and best of all you can increase the dose to up to six capsules for fast relief from the immediate symptoms of over indulgence.

Stress

Endless parties, catching up with family and friends not to mention Christmas shopping and getting work done before the break can tire you out. So it’s not surprising that Christmas scores high on the stress list.

Close nup on woman at christmas looking stressed

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Curb expectations. One of the reasons why Christmas is so much more stressful that any other time of year is because we have so many high expectations of it. The secret is to relax and let things go. So what if that pair of mittens you got in your stocking are hideous, or you don’t get on with your daughter in-law? It’s only one day of the year – relax and try not to worry about it.

If things get too much take yourself outside for a calming walk or gentle jog. Meanwhile, a dose of soothing valerian can help restore the calm. Its active ingredients include volatile oils, iridoids and alkaloids, which are known for their relaxing properties.

Alternatively, sprinkle a few drops of lavender on a handkerchief and sniff. Research shows lavender helps ease the blues and quell anxiety.

6 fast festive fixes

  • Suffering from multiple mince pies? Probiotics such as acidophilus can help to give your digestion a much-needed boost.
  • If chaos is coming, breathe in deeply to a count of four then breathe out to a count of four. Repeat four times to aid relaxation.
  • Rejuvenate tired eyes with a few minutes of palming: Rub your hands together to warm them up then cup them over your closed eyes.
  • Give into tiredness. Whatever the time of day take a 10-minute nap. It can work wonders.
  • Boost flagging spirits with a quick burst of aerobic exercise. Run up and down stairs as fast as you can or put on some music and dance.
  • Listen to your body and be realistic about what you can and can’t achieve.

 

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