Surviving the Festive Season...
It’s that crazy time of year again already…diaries filling up with Christmas parties, family gatherings fast approaching, children eating chocolate for breakfast…and SO many presents to buy. Whilst it’s easy to end up exhausted, emotionally and physically, and feeling a bit bleurgh come January, it’s also a pretty magical time of year, which with a few tweaks, we can actually enjoy rather than dread.
Here’s my top 10 tips for surviving Silly Season…
1. Don’t say yes to everything
This is typical ‘burn out’ time for a lot of us. We overstretch ourselves in order to keep everyone ELSE happy. Work out what really makes you – and your family happy, and focus on those. Anything that’s going to be super stressful (in terms of timings, logistics, or politics), politely decline.
2. Prioritise down time
Go through your calendar and mark at least one night of every week (for the next four weeks) that you’re unavailable for last minute gatherings or impromptu drinks. Use this as me time to have a long bath, watch some trash TV, or just get an early night.
3. Stay Active
Keeping the body active is key to maintaining a calm head and a healthy immune system during hectic times. This is because increasing your oxygen levels speeds up the breakdown of alcohol, and sweating helps to excrete toxins from your body faster. Plus an endorphin boost makes everything better. Try and move every day. Get out for a walk, try a new yoga class, or clear some space at home to get moving in. I’ll be posting some quick and easy workouts for you to do in the comfort of your own home.
4. Drink 500ml of warm water with lemon every morning.
Hydration is key at the best of times, but especially when our alcohol intake is likely to see a significant spike! By getting half a litre in first thing in the morning helps to wake you up, and gets you well on your way for your daily target (which should be around 2 litres a day..). Adding lemon to your water will help to manage the body’s natural pH level, aid digestion and help the liver in its job of flushing out toxins. If you’re feeling spicy, add a pinch of cayenne pepper too – to wake the metabolism up.
5. Choose your poison wisely…
Stick to ONE type of drink while out, and TRY and try and alternate each drink with a glass of water…also, avoid drinks known to have high levels of congeners (congeners are chemicals found in certain alcohols that are reported to worsen a hangover) – such as whiskey, tequila, congnac. Tipples containing vodka, gin and rum are lower in congeners…but remember, all in moderation!
6. Have a banana and a Dioralyte before bed after a big night
Bananas are high in potassium, a mineral that you lose through drinking because of the diuretic effect of alchohol. Dioralyte rehydration sachets aren’t my go-to, as it’s more of an emergency fix than a long term solution, but during the festive season sometimes it’s those emergency fixes we need!
7. Prep your fridge
Eggs and avocado on toast (or something similar!) when you’re hungover – NOT a leftover pack of Doritos and a handful of Celebrations! Whilst we can’t necessarily avoid having chocolate in the house, having quick, healthy choices to hand as WELL makes it more likely we’ll choose wisely. Foods to stock up on:
- Beetroot and carrots: both are loaded with beta-carotene, which is known for its role in assisting liver function
- Leafy greens: my fave as these are vitamin and mineral POWERHOUSES. Steam or stir fry with lots of organic butter, salt and pepper for a tasty snack or side, or top with a couple of fillets of smoked mackerel for a quick lunch fix loaded with healthy fat too.
- Grapefruit: ruch in glutathione, which helps the liver detoxifying the body too. Also rich in vitamin C, which assists in enzyme production within the liver. (be careful as grapefruit can interefere with certain medications)
- Walnuts: also high in glutathione, but also in omeg-3 fatty acids, which also help give the liver a boost in the cleansing process!
- Garlic, broccoli and SPROUTS (!): rich in sulphur, which is needed for the synthesis of glutothiane, that magical little antioxidant that helps the detox process within the liver. You can load up on glutothiane all you like, but unless you’re getting enough sulphur, it won’t be able to do it’s job.
- Turmeric: the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant kingpin tht helps to repair liver cells, aid detoxification and prevent further cellular damage.
If you can batch cook some immune boosting, healing broths too, these make a great addition to your ‘festive diet’…even if just in a mug at tea time. I’ll post my broth recipes soon (vegan option available too).
8. Pimp up your daily brew
Switch it up your usual cuppa for some herbal options…
- Ginger tea is helpful in reducing nausea, and generally settling the stomach if we’re overindulging. It could even help with the digestion of alcohol too…
- Dandelion tea is reported to assist the body’s ability to detox – because it helps the liver and gall bladder eliminate toxins and stimulates the kidneys to remove excess water (and unlike many diuretics, doesn’t deplete you of potassium)
- Green tea is rammed with antioxidants, which keeps your cells and organs healthy – which means a healthier liver. Start drinking it now! Add some fresh lemon juice for a vitamin C hit too, which will boost your body’s ability to absorb the antioxidant catechins, which green tea is PACKED with.
- Rooibos tea is a great caffeine-free tea which is said to soothe the digestive tract and ease nervous tension which can make digestive problems worse. It’s another antioxidant powerhouse too, which helps in the clean up process.
9. Invest in a probiotic supplement
Your gut is so important in SO many ways, and whilst it’s best to boost your gut health by way of a varied, colourful diet, a probiotic supplement can give you gut a helping hand during this time of typical overindulgence.
10. Stay Present
It’s easy for the magic of Christmas to be lost when you’re feeling rushed, exhausted or anxious.
- Try not to judge your worth or value based on other’s opinions, or behaviour. Politics within the family or amongst friends can come to a head in the festive season, if we let them.
- Enjoy the moment. Put your phone away, and make a conscious effort to be fully present, actively listen and be curious as to what people have to say. Often we don’t let ourselves enjoy things because we assume they’re going to be awful before they even begin, but if you actively engage with the people around you, and change your mindset so you’re open to new surprises, you may well find yourself pleasantly surprised.
- Try not to compare. This is the WORST time of year for Christmas-offs, either within friendship circles or on social media. Don’t feel you need to buy more presents for your children when you already have ten great little presents for their stocking just because ‘Amelia’s mum from down the road’ has gone and bought her FIFTY stocking fillers, plus a new bicycle, plus a new pair of Nike trainers, plus a trip to Disneyland. And don’t assume that everyone else is having a better time than you because they look so happy from their Instagram stories. You’ve heard it before, but you may need reminding at this hectic time: Instagram ISN’T REAL. It’s people’s highlights, their show reel, their ‘best bits’. Everyone has their own story, and their own thing going on. Just because your living room isn’t as Instagrammable as ‘Mary’ from your yoga class, doesn’t mean it isn’t homely, and festive, and YOURS. Take a moment and have a look around you, and make a mental note of all the things that are great about YOUR life, and make YOU happy. Your children, your partner, your Mum, your home. Don’t take a picture of them and post it, just make a mental note of them and how they make you feel.
- Meditate. Find a corner of your house (or workplace) where you can set a timer for five minutes – knowing you aren’t needed or won’t ne interrupted, and focus on your breath…
o Relax the jaw, drop the tongue away from the roof of the mouth and the teeth, relax the throat, neck and shoulders and imagine the breath sweeping down into the deepest parts of the lungs as you breathe in and out.
o The alternating rhythm of the inhalations and exhalations should feel like a lullaby—smooth, soft, and uninterrupted by jerks and jags. Consciously relaxing into this wavelike, oceanic quality of the breath deepens our sense of peace and ease.
o To encourage relaxation and switch on the parasympathetic nervous system, try gently extending each exhalation by one or two seconds more than the inhale.
o Pause after every exhalation. Lingering in this sweet spot can be deeply satisfying and can evoke feelings of profound quiet and stillness.
o Let the whole body breathe. When we are at ease, the whole body participates in the breathing process. Imagine a sleeping baby: When she breathes in and out, the belly swells and releases, the hips rock to and fro, the shoulders bob up AND down, and the spine gently undulates. This offers a mini-massage for the muscles and organs of the whole body, and turns each breath into a soothing melody that further calms and quiets every cell within.
o As thoughts arise in your head, don’t berate yourself. Acknowledge the thought, even say a mental ‘hello, you’re a thought…I see you…’ and then let the thought go, and turn back and focus on your breath.