Although merry, Christmas can also be pretty stressful. Nutritionist May Simpkin reveals five self-care tips to practice over Christmas to help you feel fully rested come the New Year
‘Tis the season to be jolly, but amid all the late nights, too much booze and crowded shops, Christmas can be anything but.
As a result, self-care often slips down our list of priorities, leaving us feeling exhausted, burned out and lacking in motivation – especially after the festive celebrations are over.
So, how can we be kind to ourselves and ensure we survive the Christmas period and come out the other end feeling healthy and bright eyed?
Leading Nutritionist and Consultant to Enzymedica UK, May Simpkin, gives us the low down on the best self-care tips and actions to practice over Christmas.
Self-care tip #1 Move as much as you can
The problem many of us have over Christmas is that we find ourselves sitting for potentially the whole festive period, except for the odd family walk outdoors (in an attempt to burn off that extra mince pie – or five).
Even for those who exercise, the sedentary hours that follow can easily negate the benefits.
It is important to remember that the benefits of exercise are far reaching; not only are we toning and strengthening our muscles, but exercise also releases feel good hormones which lift our mood and spirits significantly.
We also feel more energised and less tired after a workout, so we can get through the day much more productively.
Small bursts are just as effective as doing one long session
Whether it’s a brisk walk, an online exercise session, a vigorous hour of housework, or even walking up and down the stairs regularly, try to increase your activity levels throughout the day and reduce the time you spend sitting down.
Increase your steps around the house by offering family members cups of tea and volunteering to be the washer upper!
The good news is, research has shown that exercise has profound effects on mood regardless of the exercise duration.
Small bursts are just as effective as doing one long session, so don’t feel that unless you’re hot and sweaty, it doesn’t count.
Self-care tip #2 Stay hydrated
Try to avoid drinks that are sweetened, whether naturally or artificially. The high sugar levels will wreak havoc with your blood sugar balance, leaving you feeling tired, sleepy, and even anxious and jittery as your body adjusts to find balance.
Soups, fruits and vegetables also provide fluids
Whilst tea (preferably black) and coffee are often vilified, they are good choices to help keep you hydrated, as well as plain water, hot water with lemon or freshly grated ginger and herbal teas.
Soups, fruits and vegetables also provide fluids and will contribute to your hydration levels. If you are feeling thirsty and your urine is a dark yellow colour, you are already dehydrated.
Self-care tip #3 Watch out for overeating
Bloating at Christmas is not uncommon. It is not always linked to a certain food but can simply be a case of overeating, particularly if it is a combination of eating larger portions, more often and foods you wouldn’t normally eat.
If you already suffer from digestive issues, you may find your system is not robust enough to process so much food at a time.
The best solution is to be sensible with your portions to start with and going back for seconds if you’re still hungry. Taking the time to pause in between mouthfuls and chewing well will also help.
The best solution is to be sensible with your portions
However, if you know you will inevitably eat more than you’re used to, then you can offer your digestive system a little help to move your meal through more easily and ease your bloating.
Taking a digestive enzyme supplement before your meal will help to break down your meal more efficiently and allow it to pass through more quickly and easily.
As a digestive aid, I recommend Digest Spectrum. Many people know that they have a digestive issue, yet do not always know what foods are causing the problem.
Digest Spectrum contains 13 vegan enzymes and will provide an additional boost of enzymes to help digest your meal this Christmas.
Self-care tip #4 Eat more mindfully
It’s easy to bolt down your food when you’re in company and absentmindedly plough through a meal without paying attention.
It is important to remember that the first stage of digestion takes place in the mouth, where the enzyme, salivary amylase begins to break down the carbohydrates in a meal.
take the time to chew more mindfully
The longer you allow for this, the easier it will be for the digestive system to complete the full breakdown process, and the better you will feel.
You’re less likely to bloat or experience reflux if your digestive system is not struggling.
So, take the time to chew more mindfully, replacing your knife and fork in between mouthfuls as you eat. Pay attention to the taste, texture and savour each mouthful.
Self-care tip #5 Boost immunity with your favourite festive foods: turkey, sprouts and chestnuts
Tucking into the traditional Christmas fayre is in fact, surprisingly nutritious.
Turkey is a rich source of zinc, potassium as well as vitamins B6 and B3; all crucial nutrients for energy production as well as the immune system.
As a lean first-class protein, turkey also provides a full array of the essential amino acids, but it is particularly rich in Tryptophan, an amino acid that is an important precursor to Serotonin; our mood enhancing neurotransmitter.
this traditional meal provides an important boost to your health and immunity
The body also needs Serotonin to make Melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.
The traditional sides are also incredibly nutritious, with brussels sprouts for example, an excellent source of vitamin C, K, A & B6, folate, potassium and manganese (as well as plant-based protein).
Nuts are rich in healthy oils as well as magnesium, calcium, vitamin E and brazil nuts in particular; a rich source of the antioxidant Selenium. Not forgetting Chestnuts, which provide good levels of iron, B vitamins, folate as well as important fibre.
With a good night’s sleep and plenty of key nutrients, this traditional meal provides an important boost to your health and immunity.
May Simpkin is a UK qualified Nutritional Therapist with a Masters Science degree in Personalised Nutrition. She is an experienced clinician, practicing functional medicine from an evidence base, providing the latest research into nutrition.
She is a registered practitioner, bound by the code of ethics in clinical practice and has met the strict criteria required for BANT, the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy and the CNHC, Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council, which is the council recommended by the UK Department of Health for complementary and natural healthcare services.