‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year…’
‘Tis the season! With Christmas parties, yummy food and the occasional mulled wine, bring on the celebrations!
However, alongside all of the fun, December can be quite a stressful time. We wake up in darkness, finish work in darkness, have deadlines to meet and social events to attend. Not to mention all of the Christmas shopping…waaah! It’s easy to become overwhelmed.
In order to avoid the burn out, and as a mindful reminder, I would like to share 10 winter wellness tips to help you to find balance and keep you feeling as healthy as possible over the festive season! So here we go…
- (Don’t just buy presents…) Be present
It’s easy to get caught up in the run up to Christmas rush, with parties, planning, late nights and shopping; it can all become a bit of an overwhelming chore. Busy 21st century lifestyle lends us to ‘not stopping until we get all of our jobs done’. Truth is; that to do list will never end.
Be present. Enjoy all of the lovely things you have planned and try not to get caught up in the stress that comes with it.
- Feel no guilt
There are many different factors to consider when thinking about what ‘healthy eating’ means to you. Yes, in the run up to Christmas you may be eating and drinking a little more than usual, however it is important to enjoy this with no guilt or punishment. Health is not just about what is on our plate, but our lifestyle, social life, daily to do’s and self care all come into it too. There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. Food should not be associated with guilt or shame but enjoyed in the moment; whether you’re cracking open that box of mince pies or enjoying a few Christmas cocktails on your work night out. While I wholly encourage a healthy diet and lifestyle, life happens! Lifestyle factors and celebrations should always be considered. Don’t be too hard on yourself, keep it in context and remember; a healthy lifestyle is all about balance.
- Slow down
Give yourself permission to relax! Moments of calm we used to enjoy are being eroded, and we find ourselves feeling guilty for not being ‘productive’. Remember, constantly being on the go can cause us a huge amount of stress. Stress can affect our body, mind, mood and ability to digest food properly. Constant release of our stress hormone lowers our immunity defences making us more susceptible to illness and creating potential for weight gain.
What’s the rush? Christmas is one of the only times of the year we allow ourselves to stay in our pyjamas all day watching films on the sofa. Enjoy it!
- Remember your fruit & veg…
In between all of those yummy festive foods try to remember to prioritise eating plants. At this time of year we are spoilt for choice in terms of what is in season; lots of grounding root vegetables and delicious winter fruits – celebrate and enjoy these while you can.
As well as this, plants contain colour, fibre and variety. This combination works to keep our gut microbiome and immune system in balance. In the media, we constantly hear about what we can do to ‘boost our immune system’ when in fact, all our body really craves is balance. Eating a wide variety of colourful fruits and vegetables will help to create balance, protecting our immune system; making it less likely to catch that winter cold and nourishing our gut microbes, aiding healthy digestion.
- Prioritise sleep
Sleep is seen as the last of our jobs, at the bottom of our list. At Christmas time, whether we’re out partying or late night shopping, quality sleep is often not a priority. However, it is important to remember sleep is the foundation on which other areas of our health sit. Without it, we are less likely to feel motivated in these areas. Quality sleep gives our bodies the opportunity to rest and reset after a busy day. It supports our physical health, mental health and immune function. With lack of sleep, we produce more of our stress hormone (cortisol) and appetite hormone (ghrelin), making it likely for us to reach for those high sugar snacks, even if we don’t want too. If you’re going out for a Christmas celebration, consider an earlier start for an earlier finish so there is less chance you will end up feeling sleep deprived. Try to prioritise 7-9 hours of sleep per night in order to feel refreshed.
- Say no
It’s the time of year we celebrate and catch up with others, and often, this means attending many more social events – fun! However, remember to distinguish between what is enjoyable and what is a chore.
Often when we say yes, we really mean no. In this case, we end up rushing to every social event, feeling tired and burnt out, unable to be fully present and enjoy ourselves. This nonstop lifestyle leaves us unable to prioritise time to ourselves to do the things we really want to over Christmas.
Saying no is hard, especially to us people pleasers, however, don’t ignore your own needs. Remember, sometimes saying no to others is saying yes to yourself.
- Get outdoors
With winter weather upon us, we are less likely to spend time outdoors. However, spending time in nature is so beneficial towards our overall health and wellbeing. Being in nature helps to reduce our stress levels, boost our mood and improve sleep quality too. Especially now, in amongst all of the busyness, give yourself a break, get wrapped up and go outside. Chances are, you‘ll feel so much better afterwards; ready to tackle the rest of the day.
- Listen to your body
Sometimes, as the nights get darker and we feel the effects of the Christmas rush, hibernation mode kicks in. We may feel less motivated to exercise and more motivated to snuggle up in peace…sounds good to me! Be compassionate with yourself, just as you are to others. Over exercising, or putting pressure on yourself to take part in high intensity workouts when you are already feeling tired will only cause more stress on your body. Consider how you feel each day, listen to your body and remember to move mindfully. Sometimes missing a workout is more beneficial.
- Be sensitive
Christmas can be a tricky time. Some people don’t celebrate it; others may not have people to celebrate it with. Remember, when you’re having a rant about getting the Christmas shopping done, or getting fed up of all of the Christmas parties – you are lucky! Be sensitive to those who may not have the same luxuries.
- Practice gratitude and enjoy the break!
Steer clear of comparison and feel content. Remember what really matters and be grateful for what you have and the people around you. And most of all; enjoy the break – it only comes around once a year!
Wishing you a restful and enjoyable Christmas…remember, a healthy lifestyle is all about balance!