How to Survive Christmas
Is it really less than four weeks until Christmas? Take a deep breath, don’t panic – there’s still plenty of time prepare.
The build-up to Christmas and the festive period itself can be a frantic and frankly, stressful time of year. With so much to juggle on top of the usual stuff, it’s easy to neglect yourself, cease all exercise and eat and drink to excess, leaving you feeling exhausted, over-indulged and sluggish in the new year. You don’t have to feel like that! Here are a few tips on how to keep sane and healthy(ish) over the festive period.
Eat more slowly – In my opinion, the traditional Christmas dinner is the most delicious meal of the year and I struggle not to scoff it down in a fraction of the time it’s taken to prepare it. Eating more slowly not only gives you a chance to appreciate the textures and flavours of the food on your plate but also improves digestion and increases the absorption of nutrients. Research has shown that by chewing more slowly we consume fewer calories and are less likely to over-eat; it takes 20 minutes for the brain to receive the message that we’ve eaten and our appetite is sated, so if you’re eating fast you’ll have eaten far more than feels comfortable before you realise. Laying your cutlery down between mouthfuls also leaves more time for chatting.
Choose healthier snacks (sometimes) – Who doesn’t love the fabulous array of delectable goodies scattered around the place to tempt us in between meals? I’m not saying don’t snack, just don’t always choose the chocolates. Snacking on unsalted nuts (cracking the shells also slows you down) is a healthier alternative and being high in protein, they sate the appetite too.
Drink water (as well) – Sharing a few glasses of bubbles with friends and family is one of the pleasures of Christmas, but alternating alcoholic drinks with water will reduce overall alcohol consumption and help you stay hydrated.
Sing carols (or karaoke) – energetic singing gives you a physical workout, improves posture, and releases endorphins which raise the spirits and lower stress. It’s also great fun!
Go for a family walk – regardless of the weather. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing”. That’s what my aunt, quoting Alfred Wainright, used to say smugly cosy in her Goretex, and now I have my own suitable clothing, I can happily agree. Walking in inclement weather leaves you feeling exhilarated and uplifted, and a walk is always a great opportunity for a good chat. An additional bonus is that being out in the cold burns more calories than the same walk on a warm day (more on this subject in January).
Play Monopoly – switch off the gadgets, adults and kids alike, and get out your favourite board game. Playing board games brings the family together and is a great learning opportunity for the kids. Can you teach them the skill of winning and losing gracefully?
Laugh – you can’t beat a good comedy. Laughter, like singing, has numerous positive health benefits like lowering stress levels, boosting the immune system, decreasing blood pressure and bonding with your fellow laughees.
Sleep – don’t neglect this!
Wherever you are and whatever you do, have a very merry Christmas!