While Christmas can be the happiest time of the year, it can also, sometimes, fill us with dread – crazy work schedules, utterly drowning in clients, gift shopping, social occasions, family gatherings, and somehow jamming in our own personal appointments before the string of public holidays begin. So this Christmas, we’re focussing on how to manage it all, keep cool, and stay well – physically and mentally.
To help us avoid burnout during all the crazy, we sought the expert opinion of Gwinganna’s resident psychologist, Dr Rebekah Doley, who says “it can feel daunting anticipating all that is ahead along with the hidden load we carry into the festive season. That is, the responsibilities and obligations we hold ourselves to, which often depletes and exhausts us.”
Dr Doley’s 5 tips:
- Stay connected. You can feel alone, crowded with your thoughts of all that ‘must’ be done in the busy-ness. Stay connected to family, friends and to yourself. Make time for things that you love doing in order to stay grounded and centered.
- Change your ‘shoulds’ to ‘coulds’. Thinking about what you have to/must/should do, starts your brain on its habitual ‘rule-following’ track. Instead, change your thoughts to what you ‘could’ do so your brain will be forced to make a decision and turn your intentions into actions. Choose wisely for a sense of stability and centeredness during the silly season.
- Plan some downtime. Time out is a precious resource. Schedule some activities to quieten your mind and achieve some ‘flow’. Try meditation, walking in nature (without the earbuds!) listening to relaxing music, or even working out (but with focus).
- Enjoy some positivity. When you’re feeling overloaded, all the festivities can drain your spontaneity and goodwill. Others are enduring it too: think about all those road ragers, irritable shoppers and family tensions. Clients, customers and suppliers may not always demonstrate their best selves in this season as they too are possibly daunted. Stay focused on connection and positive human interaction as your endgame.
- Indulge with purpose. You’ve worked hard all year on healthy intentions and committed actions, but it’s easy to revert to old habits. Yes, enjoy some festive indulgence but make it mindful, do it on purpose and pace yourself.
Speaking of indulging, it can be incredibly difficult to walk the straight and narrow during the holidays, when constantly surrounded by food and drink. Standard rules simply go out the window, and it becomes perfectly acceptable to have bubbles for breakfast, pavlova for lunch, and leftover ham at any hour. The long Christmas bender can do a number on our bodies (much more than just the holiday weight gain!) and so Jessica Smouha, Nutritionist at BodyLove Studio, has some advice on keeping our bodies physically well this season.
“With the silly season fast approaching it is time to put some guidelines into place. In keeping things practical and manageable, here are three easy steps you can take to support your gastrointestinal health, prevent adrenal burnout and to indulge in the Christmas offerings without compromise this season,” says Smouha.
Gut loving tricks
A change in diet and lifestyle including celebratory foods, an extra glass of wine or two, and increased stress, can push the normally healthy community of organisms inside us towards dysbiosis, an over-abundance of pathogenic organisms such as Candida. To prevent this, increase your consumption of fermented foods like kombucha, fermented vegetables, yoghurt, kefir, even unpasteurised miso, as they deliver health promoting bacteria to keep the bad guys at bay.
Immune prevention by way of some extra adrenal love
Burning the candle at both ends can leave you depleted and vulnerable – who wants to come down with a cold or flu when everyone else is out kicking their heels up? Support your adrenals by giving them their three favourite nutrients: B Vitamins, Vitamin C and Magnesium. Cold pressed juices, particularly those focused on root vegetable like carrots and beetroot, are an excellent inclusion, as well as green leafy vegetables.
Making intermittent fasting work for you
By reducing the period of time of food consumption, you give your body a chance to repair. Skipping breakfast is a game changer for some, or simply swapping out breakfast and adding a supportive elixir like bulletproof coffees, match lattes or golden milk. But for those who can’t cope without their normal breakfast, skipping dinner or swapping it for a light broth, miso, Pho or the likes is another. Ideally try and limit your hours of consuming solid foods to an 8-hour window and enjoy more clarity, more energy and less weight gain.
“The secret to having the most out of the season is to BE the person you want to become,” says Dr Doley. “It is easier to be our best self when things are calm and measured. This year, when the season tests you, look within, focusing on self-discovery and personal growth as the path to a truly satisfying life.”