Christmas – the most wonderful time of the year!
But Christmas is likely to look a little different this year - gatherings will be a little smaller, a little cosier maybe and there will certainly be less hugging. In other ways it will look the same – gifts to buy, meals to plan and possibly even families and friends to host.
However Christmas isn’t just about the to-do list, the endless preparing and making sure everything is just right, it is also a time for connection, reflection and enjoyment.
It can be easy to get overwhelmed and exhausted at this time of year but that doesn’t have to be the way. Make your Christmas more mindful, simple and healthy to find joy and happiness in the smallest of moments.
As we start to become stressed and anxious, our breath shortens and moves into our chest. If we can manage our breath, deepening and lengthening into full belly breaths, we can activate our parasympathetic nervous system which can reduce stress and anxiety, even out our heart rate and calm our nervous system.
A super easy breath practice is 4-7-8 breath. Inhale through your nose for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7 and exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. Repeat this breath for 30 seconds or for as long as you can. It is a wonderful way to start your day and can also be used whenever you feel overwhelmed or stressed. For more breath practice videos visit @simply.wellbeing
Start your day right
Christmas isn’t the time to start a diet or deprive yourself, but a simple, healthy breakfast will set you up for the day. Morning smoothies can be an opportunity to add some fresh fruit and vegetables to stabilise your blood sugars and increase your vitamins and minerals.
Try and make the majority of your smoothie vegetable based using spinach and courgette or other blendable veggies. Then include some mixed berries for added phytonutrients, mix in some plant milk (cashew makes it extra creamy) and mix up your seeds such as chia or linseed. Blend and enjoy!
Fresh air can do wonders for the soul. Try and get outside first thing and at least once a day to blow the cobwebs away. Being outside helps to ground you in nature and can improve your emotional and physical wellbeing. Try walking mindfully, appreciate the sights, sounds and smells of nature and allow the seasonal stillness to bring some calm to a busy day.
I don’t mean your favourite cocktails – although you can indulge if you want to, it is Christmas after all! Mulled wines, festive cocktails and even too much tea and coffee are enough to cause chronic dehydration. Make drinking a glass of water part of your morning routine and keep a bottle of water near you all day to sip on regularly. This will help you to keep a clear head, support your digestive system and control your cravings.
A delicious Christmas thirst quencher is my Pomegranate Spritz.
All you need is:
· 1 cup of pomegranate juice (fresh or not from concentrate)
· 1 litre of sparkling water
· 1 lemon
Mix the pomegranate juice, sparking water and freshly squeezed lemon into your pitcher. Mix and serve with slices of lemon and pomegranate seeds and even a sprig of rosemary of mint. As an added bonus, pomegranate is a powerhouse of antioxidants – containing more punicalagins than green tea and red wine!
Stretch, walk, dance and play! Movement doesn’t have to mean exercise and certainly doesn’t need to be seen as a chore. Getting outside for a brisk Christmas walk will help to clear your mind and maybe give any children the chance to burn off some extra energy. Turn the radio up and have a kitchen disco or whip out the games for a family round of Twister!
If you want to keep on top of your fitness over the festive season there are so many online fitness classes to choose from. This is the season to try to reduce your stress and anxiety so maybe give your HIIT class a miss and instead try a slower, more relaxing class like yoga! You can book online for our weekly classes.
Disconnect to connect
In order to really connect with people, give them the most precious gift of all - the gift of your time and attention. Christmas this year will be like no other and the ability to connect with people via Zoom, Facetime and every other App will be invaluable to still see our loved ones from afar. But use technology mindfully and intentionally.
Have set times for contacting friends and family and outside of those times move technology away from reach and focus instead on connecting with those around you. Although this year may be different, it is an opportunity to write new rules and create a new normal of being present, making memories and sharing experiences – all things that will benefit you and your family’s wellbeing.
Actively look for joy in all the simple things. Take a moment to appreciate the aromas of Christmas – close your eyes and inhale the cinnamon and cloves, pine and cold fresh air. Listen to your favourite songs as you do your chores and take time to watch the birds feasting on bird feeders. Embrace the opportunity to set the table, forage for decorations and make your meals extra special. These things cost nothing but can fill your heart and soul with unexpected joy and support your wellbeing.
Above all, remember that Christmas is just one day. A day full of expectation but still only one day in a year. You may have a vision of what the holidays should be like but try not to compare your day to others, be flexible with your expectations and don’t pressure yourself to live up to unrealistic standards!