As wonderful as the Christmas season is, it’s also high time for stress. We sleep less, drink more than we ought to, race around trying to organise everything, our diets and exercise routines get interrupted, and so on. In turn, our health and wellbeing are also affected.
For most of us, Christmas is also synonymous with indulgence. Who doesn’t love a scrumptious festive feast with all the trimmings? It’s too bad that our body doesn’t always agree. Many people experience uncomfortable side effects of overindulging at Christmas, such as bloating, indigestion, and constipation.
But it’s not only food that can upset our stomachs; it’s the Christmas season as a whole that can cause us stress. Between gift buying, parties, end-of-year deadlines, and last-minute organising, Christmas is a busy time of year with a lot going on. Then there are our families, who, as much as we love - let’s be honest - can drive us up the wall. When all mixed together, it’s often the perfect recipe for stress.
Fear not, below we share some tips on how you can survive the Christmas season and feel better inside and out:
Christmas is a marathon, not a sprint
Christmas isn’t one day of the year; it’s a month-long festive season filled with parties, shopping, gift buying and everything in between. So, to survive the Christmas season, it can be helpful to see it as a marathon – not a sprint.
Pace yourself throughout the season. This means not feeling obligated to say yes to every social invite and neglecting any of your important, positive routines. For example, you might enjoy going to the gym or running a few times a week. Or you might enjoy meditating, reading, or preparing healthy lunches for the week ahead. It’s important that you stick to those things.
Attempting to attend every event and allowing those to take priority over perhaps other habits that provide balance and are essential to your wellbeing isn't the best way to manage stress.
Limit your intake of fatty foods
In addition to bloating and constipation, many people also experience heartburn or acid reflux due to eating and drinking too much. Fatty meats, oily roast potatoes and high-fat cheeses are just some of the culprits you'll find at Christmas.
Make your Christmas joyful without heartburn by limiting your intake of high-fat foods.
Heartburn isn’t only caused by food
Even though heartburn starts in the stomach, it isn’t always caused by food. Other factors, such as being overweight or smoking, can also lead to heartburn. Stress is another factor that can cause acid reflux and heartburn.
Minimise the risk of heartburn by eating healthy, reducing smoking, focusing on better gut health, and exercising regularly throughout the Christmas season.
Don’t forget to sleep
In line with our first tip about seeing Christmas as a marathon, it's important to prioritise sleep and get enough of it whenever possible. But unfortunately, sleep is of the first areas to be affected when we're stressed.
Sleep is essential to our health and wellbeing and even supports the immune system.
Think with your stomach
According to one study, the average person eats more than 7,000 calories on Christmas day. It’s no wonder that so many of us say we feel bloated.
Although it's nice and, dare we say, important to indulge now and then, it's important to think about your stomach, and specifically the health of your gut.
When we're stressed, our stomach is affected. Unfortunately, a lot of what we eat and drink during the season, especially the quantity, isn't great for our stomachs or digestion. In addition to taking it easier during the season, taking a daily probiotic supplement can help support the good bacteria in your gut. Learn more about gut-health here.
Spice things up
Studies have shown that Christmas spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg can help reduce stress and improve sleep. They're also rich in antioxidants and can help speed up your recovery after exercise by reducing muscle soreness.
The best part? It means you can take a "guilt-free" bite of that mince pie that's been staring at you all day since mince pies also include cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
Enjoy a drink but in moderation
Between family gatherings and Christmas parties, the festive season is often awash with alcoholic, sugary and acidic beverages, all of which can cause acid reflux.
What's more, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can negatively impact your mood and energy levels and interfere with your sleep. As a result, sleep loss and sleep deprivation can cause the body to release more cortisol, aka the stress hormone. Sure, enjoy a drink but do so in moderation.