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12 Dec 2014
12 Days of Christmas Survival Guide
I absolutely love Christmas; the anticipation, the cold crisp air, scarfs and mittens, home baking, present shopping and wrapping, family, friends – warmth and laughter – the whole thing. But there is no doubt it can also be a lot of work. So whether you get very stressed or are very laid back – a bit of planning never hurt anyone…
We look at the 12 days of Christmas and what we can do to make the event peaceful and as enjoyable as possible:
- It is easy at this time of year to burn the candle at both ends, work deadlines, preparing for time off; office parties etc. can take their toll. So boost your immune system before the holiday season really kicks in. If applicable and you haven’t done so already – get your flu jab. Stock up on cold remedies, so you can stop any sniffles in their tracks. Eat really well – plenty of fruits and vegetables – garlic, mushrooms and onions all have great anti-viral properties. Try incorporating seasonal produce into your diet. If you know your diet is going to suffer, consider taking a multivitamin or immune support tincture like Echinacea.
- Exercise is often one of the first things to suffer when our schedules get tight. But regular exercise is essential for reducing our stress levels as it produces endorphins (feel good chemicals). It doesn’t have to be at the gym – park a little further away from the shops, take the stairs instead of the lift, walk the dog for a little bit longer, do some extra housework in preparation for Christmas decorating…
- The increased social calendar often means we get less sleep in the lead up to Christmas. Make a concerted effort to keep to a sleep routine. Only accept invitations to events that you really want to go to and know you will enjoy. Even if you save time by on-line shopping, make sure you are getting a rest from blue light – leave your laptop/phone and other blue light emitting devices out of the bedroom!
- Wherever possible plan – perhaps put a family calendar together so you all know where you have to be on any given day/evening. Start trying to purchase bits of extra food each week so that you haven’t got to do such a massive food shop in the run up to Christmas. Make a Christmas card and present list and start ticking people off as you get things for them. Look at any big commitments you’ve got, such as cooking Christmas dinner for eight and start looking at what you can do in advance – then delegate, delegate and delegate some more. Women in particular tend to take on the lion’s share of responsibility for all things Christmas – delegate jobs to your colleagues, children and loved ones where possible so you all feel like you have contributed and you are not exhausted come the day.
- Christmas isn’t going to be any fun if it breaks the bank – talk to family and friends in advance, agree who you are and who you are not going to buy presents for and set monetary limits. Don’t be afraid to re-gift, and use any creative skills you have to make gifts – there is nothing more thoughtful than a homemade present. Set limits for food, booze, socialising and presents and stick to them – your bank balance will thank you come the New Year.
- Christmas can be a hazardous time – deep fat frying (boxing day chips anyone?), fairy lights, an abundance of new electrical gadgets, candle decorations, present wrapping scissors etc. Read the safety instructions, don’t overload your sockets, pay attention and where needed use a qualified professional.
- Staying with the theme of risk – look carefully at your cooking, as the risk of food poisoning increases during the holiday season. In regards to turkey the Food Standards Agency recommends that we defrost turkey in the fridge, 5-6 hours per pound of weight. Don’t wash raw meat as it spreads bacteria. Cook until the juices run clear. Wash your hands thoroughly, use antibacterial gel, have a separate hand towel and lastly do not eat leftovers after 48 hours.
- Food poisoning is not the only risk to our poor stomachs during the festive period; overindulgence in rich foods we don’t often eat can lead to heartburn and or indigestion. Obviously the best advice is to not overdo it…but if you think you will then it may be worth considering a pro-biotic supplement throughout December. These can boost the immune system and aid digestion. Failing that have some antacids on standby as part of your holiday first aid kit.
- Of course the other element of over indulgence is alcohol. Many of us increase our consumption around this time of year. If you are going to drink then it is a good idea to eat before you go out. Try to alternate alcohol with soft drinks, this will minimise how much alcohol you consume and will also guard against dehydration. Alcohol causes blood sugar levels to plummet, so do yourself a favour and have a protein filled breakfast the next day like scrambled eggs on toast. Drinking depletes your potassium levels so eating kiwis and bananas the next day may also help.
- Nobody wants to think about weight-gain, but on average we gain between 1 and 7lbs in ‘holiday weight’. Try and stick to an 80/20 or even 70/30 rule – eat normally and sensibly most of the time and the rest of the time you can have the treats on offer. Try to avoid constant picking – it is easy to do with mince pies, sausage rolls, cakes and chocolates all around – but your waistline will thank you later.
- Keep things in perspective, very often we have a ‘celebrity chef’ idea of what our Christmas dinner/day should look like. In reality we are not celebrities or chefs and we don’t need to aim for perfection. You don’t have to make everything from scratch – bought cranberry sauce is just fine! Take shortcuts when possible to make your life easier. Be realistic about what you can achieve in the time and with your skills.
- The last step is very closely linked to letting go of perfection, get back in touch with the real meaning of Christmas, spend quality time with the ones you love – relax and enjoy yourself!