The festive period can leave us feeling stressed, exhausted and in some cases burnt out. At Well Aware, we want to give you credible, accessible and realistic advice that you can easily implement into your everyday life to ensure you stay well and can thrive in all areas of life. That’s why we’ve collated a number of top tips from our team of experts to promote optimum health and wellbeing (both mental and physical) over Christmas without having to compromise on fun!
TIP 1. BREAK THE FAST WITH A SMOOTHIE
Alice Mackintosh, Bsc (hons) NT, Bsc (hons) Biomed, BANT, CNHC is a top Nutritional Therapist and co-founder of Equi London, a supplements company designed for busy people. Alice explains that people “are always super busy, and Christmas means more junk food, more alcohol, less veggies and less sleep, so it’s all about finding ways to keep some goodness in your diet to prevent you from totally crashing and feeling awful come mid-December. This doesn’t mean restriction or a complete lack of fun, just easy tips that you can fit into your schedule!”
“The most universally easy tip is to make a smoothie for breakfast. I know it’s nothing ground-breaking and you’ve heard it before, but believe me breakfast might be the only meal time you can really pack in the goodness and this smoothie takes 4 minutes to make. If you don’t have time to make this then head to Leon, Joe and the Juice, Pod, Pure, Squirrel, Shot and get them to whizz something up for you.”
Alice’s favourite recipe - 1/2 banana, 2 handfuls berries, 1 large handful of kale, 1 dessert spoon of flaxseed, 4 walnuts and top up with kefir (everywhere now seems to stock this but try Ocado if you are struggling) or sugar-free almond milk. She also loves adding a scoop of something like Equi London Fundamental, baobab, raw cacao or spirulina for extra goodness, or even just a scoop of vegan protein powder and oats to stay satiated until lunch. Also great if you’re feeling worse for wear after a Christmas party!
TIP 2. BE MINDFUL OF OTHERS
With it being the season of good will, Maggie Richards, Meditation and Mindfulness specialist suggests a tip a good friend gave her: “The next parties you go to, try focusing on making someone’s else night happier and more joyful. You’ll have a great time and so will they!” Short, sweet and effective!
TIP 3. SELF-CARE IS HEALTHCARE
Suzy Reading, CPsychol, Health Division BPS, B Psych (Hons), M Psych, an accredited psychologist and the Queen of Self-Care coined the fantastic phrase Self-care is healthcare, meaning it’s not indulgent or luxurious to look after yourself, it’s essential, especially if you want to do well at work, be a good partner parent, sibling, friend etc. We have so many roles to play in life that taking time to invest in our wellbeing is vital if we can fulfil our potential.
Suzy explains how “the pace of Christmas can feel frantic and relentless even when filled with joyful activity. As an antidote to all that busyness, carve some time for soothing your nervous system. Aim for some moments dotted through your day where there is an absence of stimulation - quiet, stillness, or time spent in Nature. It can be as simple as closing your eyes for 30 seconds, feeling the sensation of your breathing and releasing any physical tension you find. If you just can't find time to stop, then use a primer statement like 'I soften into this moment' - this can be equally helpful in making peace with stressful moments as well as savouring the blissful times.
TIP 4. HANGOVER 101 – EAT SMART
Laura Tilt, registered Dietitian, health writer and columnist for Women's Health magazine sheds some much needed light on how to avoid hangovers. December tends to be a time of late nights, high alcohol consumption and canapés! Laura explains, “office parties and afterwork drinks have a habit of starting on an empty stomach, which is the fastest route to hangover central. Food slows down the absorption of alcohol giving your body time to process it. This is the time eating something fatty is a good idea, as it will line your stomach. If a meal isn’t an option, try a slice of toast with peanut butter, or some nuts and a piece of cheese. The next best advice is to alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water to help you stay one step ahead of the headache.
TIP 5. CARVE OUT SMALL MOMENTS OF ME-TIME
Whilst Christmas is all about family time, do you struggle to find time to relax over the Christmas period? Try and carve out small moments of me-time to help you stay energised and able to keep up with all the festivities. Mental Health expert Leyla Okhai says “it may sound small, but burning rose, geranium or lavender essential oils can be relaxing and calming for all. Adding a few drops to a bath can alleviate stresses of the day.”
TIP 6. SWEEB (Sleep, Water, Eat well, Exercise & Breathe)
Short for Sleep, Water, Eat well, Exercise and Breathe. Coined by Executive and Careers Coach Anna Percy-Davis, SWEEBing incorporates all the key wellness tips into one handy phrase.
Anna suggests “getting enough SLEEP when you can, drinking lots of WATER, EATing well and regularly, to EXERCISE even if its just a walk around the block at lunchtime and BREATHE - great big gulp-fuls, especially when you are feeling tired, stressed or overwhelmed! - easy to abandon these basic principles of looking after yourself at this time of year.
Anna’s other key message would be to notice your self-messaging - if you tell yourself you are tired, too busy, overwhelmed, stressed, that is what you will be. Try to notice the fun stuff in the festive season - make it fun and enjoy it – it’s not a marathon to be endured, this is the Festive season! Know that this is just for a short period and it is GOOD (especially if you try to ensure some SWEEBing happens too!).
If you can get your perspective right on all things relating to the festive season you have a better chance of enjoying this period and looking after yourself at the same time too. Life is for LIVING so be in the moment and be merry (whilst also ensuring you are looking after yourself enough to appreciate all the merriness around you!).
TIP 7. FOOLPROOF YOUR FINANCES
Christmas can be an extremely expensive time of year, making the transition into the New Year even harder if your bank balance has taken a battering. Financial Wellbeing specialist Jo Thresher suggests having a financial clear-out and to plan your new year in the lull between Christmas and New Year. Face your Christmas spending, get a plan to get on budget, reduce your bills and set some goals for the new year. Set diary reminders in your mobile to get on track. For a complete overhaul try getting rid or your excuses book http://bit.ly/2WYEBWM - you don’t even have to move from the sofa! So pop a Christmas film on and get saving…Make 2018 the year you get money straight…
TIP 8. CONSIDER YOUR TIPPLE SIZE AND SHAPE
Size really does matter, especially when it comes to the alcohol you’re drinking. Dr. Heather McKee, Behaviour Change Psychologist says to “consider your glass shape and size. You will serve yourself 12% less wine in tall glasses than in wider glasses. Research has shown that even top-level bartenders pour 20-30% more in short glasses than tall ones.”
We hope these tips are useful and will serve you all year round. Please share your progress with us and tag us on twitter and instagram @well_aware. In the meantime, we wish you a happy, restful Christmas and New Year.