How many holiday seasons have you had to struggle through with a bad cold or flu? The Season of Giving is a wonderful time of the year, yet we need to also look after ourselves. Nobody will thank us if we run ourselves into the ground trying to keep everybody else happy.
Here are my top 10 tips for not just surviving but enjoying the season…
1. Make sure you get enough sleep! I mean it… Really make sleep your number one priority. Yuletide cheer is practically impossible when you are sleep-deprived. A lack of sleep is also usually the main culprit in your immune defenses collapsing at the school Christmas fair when some kid turns around and sneezes in your general direction. Here are some tips for improved sleep:
- Turn the TV or computer off at least one hour before you go to bed to reduce ‘screen buzz.’
- Drink some chamomile tea in the evening and avoid heavy meals late at night.
- Take a relaxing scented bath.
- Use Lavender essential oil to improve your sleep. One drop on your pillowcase is enough.
- Stick to your regular sleeping pattern.
2. Avoid the temptation of overindulging in alcohol. Getting together for Christmas drinks is common this time of year. By all means, don’t decline any invitations just to avoid drinking but stick to your own limit… and if that limit is zero that is totally fine. Cranberry juice is just as festive. Overindulging in alcohol lowers your immune system, affects your mood negatively and interferes with sound sleep.
3. Don’t drop your exercise routine. As a gym member, I always marvel at how empty the gym gets in December… and I mean the whole month! I can only guess what dropping your normal routine for a whole month did to these gym members… I’m pretty sure it involved mood dropping, weight gained and lowered energy levels… and just at the time of year when you need to be in tip-top shape for entertaining your mother-in-law!
The key is to do a little bit every day. Even 15 minutes is better than nothing. Use HIIT training as a time saver and to get in great shape.
4. Rest through illness. If you do catch a cold (as so many people do this time of year!), take at least three days out to rest and recover. Nobody is going to thank you for running around and spreading germs… and guess what?! The planet won’t stop spinning just because you look after yourself. As much as the cold remedy ads would have you believe that all you have to do is pop a pill and you can carry on as normal, you really can’t – nor should you!
5. Learn to say no. Yes, I know… it’s harder than ever this time of year. However, learning to say ‘No’ is the only way to not fall into the trap of over-committing yourself. Understand that you don’t need to justify your lack of involvement. ‘No’ is a complete sentence.
6. Use scents to calm and energise yourself. Frankincense is a popular scent at Christmas. As an added bonus it has profoundly grounding affect – perfect for your aromatherapy diffuser after a busy evening of Christmas shopping in other words! Another popular flavour/scent at Christmas is Peppermint, which is strongly energising.
7. Don’t pig out. Stick to the Ayurvedic principle of eating until you are 80% full even through Christmas. Nobody will thank you for eating until you are almost sick.
8. Avoid the sugar trap. Sugary foods (and I use the term loosely) are available in an overabundance throughout the Christmas season. Unfortunately, this coincides with cold and flu season and eating refined sugars is, as you may know, one of the worst things you can do for your immune system. Replace the tin of Quality Street with some nice figs and dates for snacking on.
9. Make the most of daylight. If at all possible, try to get yourself outside during the lightest part of the day. Those rays will help boost your immunity and keep SAD at bay. Or… even better… why not combine your intake of daylight with your daily exercise? Yes, you can exercise outdoors during the winter months too if you are dressed right!
10. Give with a glad heart. Now that you have been doing everything in your power to make sure your own energy levels are super-charged, you will have plenty to give to others. Really enjoy the gift of giving. Very few things have a deeper positive effect on the mind-body connection because giving makes us feel connected to others in meaningful ways.