08 Dec Your Christmas Survival Guide
It has been a long and difficult year for the most part, and you’re probably counting down the days to Christmas so that you can indulge and enjoy the festivities and a much deserved break! Here is your Christmas Survival Guide to help you stay on track with your health while still enjoying the festive season.
THE DAY BEFORE
1. Practice mindfulness
The day before Christmas can be stressful, especially with last minute shopping and the preparation required for Christmas day. Take some time for yourself to engage in mindfulness activities such as yoga, meditation and breathing exercises. If you need some assistance with meditation, try these smartphone apps: Smiling Mind, Headspace and Calm.
Here is an example of a breathing exercise to try:
Diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to reduce levels of anxiety and stress. Here is an example of a breathing exercise to try:
1. Lay on your back with your head on a pillow and your knees bent.
2. Place one hand on top of your chest, and the other under your rib cage.
3. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and feel your chest rising under your hand.
4. Breathe out and feel your stomach relaxing under your lower hand.
Repeat for 5 minutes, or more if required.
2. Exercise for stress relief
Another great stress reliever is exercise! Exercise as little as 30 minutes, accumulated each day for most days of the week, has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels. You can do anything from going for a quick 10-minute walk, to high-intensity interval training or resistance training.
Examples include: Walking, Swimming, Running, Yoga, High-Intensity Interval Training, Resistance Training, Dance or online exercise classes.
1. Don’t go to a Christmas party hungry
Avoiding to eat prior to an event can lead to ‘over-eating’ and feeling ‘sluggish’ at the end of the event. To avoid this, try to have a small balanced meal at home consisting of all food groups. This way you can still control your portion sizes and enjoy the food at the party, without feeling full to the point of feeling ill.
2. Opt for some extra veggies on your plate
You may have been hanging out for Christmas Ham, potato bakes or desserts, but try adding some vegetables to your plate for a more balanced meal. Having more vegetables can provide a slower release of energy and can help avoid the feeling of a ‘food coma.’ For example, if you’re having a plate full of meat, creamy bakes or pastries, try to add some vegetables or salad, even ½ a cup!
3. Watch your alcohol intake
The Australian Guidelines suggest avoiding excessive alcohol intake over 4 standard drinks on any one day. This doesn’t necessarily mean 4 beers or wines, as different types of alcohols have various amounts of alcohol content. There is no safe amount of alcohol a person can drink as it affects everyone differently. Excessive alcohol intake can result in impaired judgement and movement, along with increasing the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviours such as driving under the influence and violence.
4. Indulge in moderation
A concept that you may be familiar with: Eating or having certain foods in moderation. This doesn’t tell you that you should avoid ‘junk foods,’ sugar or fatty foods and drinks at all costs all of the time, but rather lets you know that you can still enjoy your favourite foods without feeling so guilty. On the other hand, this also doesn’t mean that you can have calorie dense foods all the time either. In short, enjoy yourself and indulge, but don’t forget to add some healthier options to your plate too.
5. Get active with family and friends
Another great way to enjoy time with family and friends can include activities involving movement. If your gathering is at home or outdoors, some fun activities can include family cricket, frisbee, kicking the soccer ball or footy, chasing children, basketball or even going for a group walk or dancing to your favourite tunes – ‘everyone’ can dance. Hint: you don’t have to qualify for ‘Dancing with the stars’!
THE DAY AFTER
1. Keep hydrated
Christmas is a big day, and Boxing day can be quite full-on also. If you are out and about or at home, remember to keep hydrated and drink lots of fluid – water mainly (around 8-10 cups) to replenish your fluids.
2. Exercise – something is better than nothing
You may not feel like doing a structured exercise regime today such as training at the gym or following your usual routine. If you still plan on exercise, that’s fantastic! If not, that’s okay! Any form of physical activity is better than none, and it does not have to be structured. This can include going for a walk, kicking the footy around, and even doing some gardening or housework.
Unsure and need some help?
Need some more tips and tricks to help make or meet your goals over the Christmas and New Years season? Click here to find an Accredited Exercise Specialist near you! If you are looking for more tailored dietary advice, we recommended speaking to a qualified Dietician.
Stay safe, and have a very, Merry Christmas!
Written by Lucija Peric. Lucija is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at With Pride Integrated Health Care and is interested in chronic pain, mental health, neurology and health promotion.