This is it the countdown is on, when I wake up in the morning, or rather later this morning, it will be Christmas Eve Eve – it doesn’t count yet as I’m still in Monday mode.
So the penultimate part of my Health Christmas A-Z of things I’m doing to keep me on the right track this Christmas time and things I’ve used in the past to help me stay healthy and fit and to maintain or even to lose weight during this time of temptation.
S is for Superfoods
If you do nothing else this festive period you can include some superfoods which will help your body to unravel the bad that the excess is doing and which will help you to at least know that you are doing some good amongst the bad. So this is a quick post as here is a link to a whole load of information about superfoods from Web MD and what I’m doing is challenging myself (I rise to challenges) to include at least 2, just two as a minimum in my daily festive diet. Superfoods can do all kinds of amazing things for your body, reduce cholestoral, reduce high blood pressure, lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, clear your body of toxins and even improve your mood and energy levels. What’s not to like? What is more look at this list and then tell me that so far in this A-Z we haven’t mentioned a good few of those and how to incorporate them healthily over Christmas already:
- Tea (green or black)
You can get some of those in over Christmas each day you really can even if you take a few and stick them in a juicer or blender you can get three or four in one hit. Remember if you’re doing harm try to balance it out with some good.
T is for Togetherness
For those of us fortunate enough to be able to spend Christmas with loved ones, be they family, friends or even pets, there is nothing more fulfilling and relaxing than sharing time with others. Laughing over a movie, taking a walk, just touching one another (research shows that skin to skin contact is hugely important in relaxing people and is used effectively in the form of hand massage or just hand holding to soothe anxiety in people with dementia). If you can’t physically be with someone then take advantage of the fabulous technology we have and Skype them, phone them, message them. If you can’t do any of that or have nobody then volunteer to help out at a pensioner’s lunch or a homeless shelter and be with other people while you are doing some good also, charity benefits the giver as much as the receiver especially when it is a charitable deed or service. Show your community spiritedness and if you know neighbours are going to be alone come up with a really radical idea to lunch together or share an afternoon tea together, take round some Christmas goodies as an ice breaker, offer to walk someone’s dog, get out and socialise if you can’t stay in and socialise.
I reblogged a post the other day about how we need to be with other humans as a race and how we function better, feel safer and have less anxiety when we are in groups. It’s true, seek it out somewhere in my recent history and give it a read.
Lifting your mood, relieving anxiety and stress will help you to keep mentally healthy but will also help you win the fight with food especially if you are a comfort or emotional eater.
U is for Upside Down
At this time of year our routines and rituals can be turned upside down, we might be lucky enough to have some lie ins, we might find we are staying up much later at night at events and entertaining, we might find that we are doing way more than we usually do or way less. We might watch more TV, we might spend more time in the kitchen. So much can change at this time of year and many of us have lots of added stresses and some have to work too and manage children on their own! Believe me that is no mean feat I’ve been all things to everyone at Christmas and it’s draining.
So while your world is upside down there are two things you can do to combat the ill effects on your health which have worked for me.
Firstly make some time for you – find a space where you can relax, get pampered or pamper yourself, go and lie on your bed with your Christmas glass of fizz while everyone else enjoys theirs, nobody will miss you if you have a house full of people. I’ve even managed to sneak away on Christmas day for an hour’s sleep between main course and dessert in the past and although I did tell some people nobody begrudged me it knowing I’d been slaving away on the meal and preparations for hours. Or just go outside and take some fresh air, go for a short walk, whatever, just set some time for you aside.
Secondly – don’t let your whole routine go out of the window, adjust it but don’t change everything, try to keep something as normal, even if that is your meal times. This is something I have done in the past which has prevented me from snacking, I’ve still had a good breakfast, a good lunch and a light dinner and kept the timing of my meals more or less as it would normally be. Your family will be used to this and guests will accept this, they are guests, they go by your clock. More and more gyms are opening on Christmas Day these days so if you are an early gym session person then go and have that session before you let the kids know santa’s been or get someone else to prep brekkie while you go and have your workout if your kids are older.
It is so easy to fall back into bad habits, far more easy that it is to make good new ones so be very careful and mindful of how many days you spend upside down and do try to keep something, even one thing from your routine.
V is for Verging on the Ridiculous
So much of what we do at Christmas is just this, verging on the ridiculous. We buy way too much food and drink and we consume way too much of it. We buy too many gifts for our kids that they don’t need. We become crazed loons who are intent on matching if not surpassing the Jones’s next door.
If you can, try to scale down the Christmas excesses in all aspects. The expense causes stress, the food makes you fat and unhealthy and so does the drink as well as making you want to die with a hangover.
Think about messages you are sending out to the kids, don’t you want them to appreciate people and experiences more than labelled, commercialised junk? I know it’s hard but it’s possible to make your kids appreciative of things other than the latest gadgets.
Think about the state of the world and ask yourself is getting up at 4am to try to beat the queue for turkeys really that important and stress worthy when there are people starving for want of a bowl of rice, people lonely, homeless, bereaved, queuing at food banks for anything, ask yourself is it all worth it?
Try to bring Christmas back to basics and make it about people and peace and giving of ourselves rather than of things. It will leave you feeling far more healthy than the modern alternative. I saw a Facebook comment on the site of a famous UK retailer today which made me think how ridiculous we are now when a lady was complaining that this company had “totally ruined my life, my whole Christmas is destroyed, everything I’d hoped for is gone because the box my 18 month old son’s train was in was split and it’s too late to get another and I’ve had to take it out of the box and wrap it separately”.
I read this and nearly wept. Really? Her life is ruined? Her whole Christmas destroyed because a child who won’t even know what is happening will be distraught because his train isn’t in a box… actually come to think of it he probably would be because we all know that the boxes are what kids of that age love about gifts. They try to tell us from an early age but we just don’t listen and keep on buying them stuff instead of boxes. My daughter spent her first two years being entertained by a cardboard box which I covered with a sticky backed vinyl and it was variously a hiding place, a stage, a car, a bus, a train, a sledge, a house, a kennel, a toy box, a bed, a dolls house… you’ve got it. Whatever was in it was barely touched and I soon realised that she just didn’t like toys, her mind was too active and her imagination way too fertile. I still bought her them though because I felt bad if I didn’t, it was only when she pointed out to me that my excessive spending at Christmas was to fulfill a need in me not her that it stopped. Wise daughter I have.
For the sake of your own health, wealth and happiness, try to keep Christmas real. I know people who spend thousands of pounds per child at Christmas and can never afford a family holiday and I think that the family would benefit so much more from a 50% reduction in Christmas presents and a nice holiday relaxing and having fun somewhere each year.
The same goes for food, we don’t have to stuff our faces just because it’s Christmas, we don’t need to fill our cupboards to bursting, the shops are open again the next day and feeling bloated, stuffed to bursting and sick is not really a good feeling for anyone and definitely not essential.
W, X, Y and Z finish this series off tomorrow.