Partied out? We asked a trio of wellbeing experts for their top tips for staying healthy and happy during the holidays
Are you suffering from a case of party season overload? With countless late nights, looming work deadlines and Christmas stress at its most high, our health can easily start taking a back seat to our diary full of meetings and social engagements.
So to help keep us healthy and happy during the holidays, we asked GP Dr Anita Sturnham The Modern Day Wizard Andrew Wallas and health, beauty and nutrition consultant Karen Cummings-Palmer for their recommendations for helping us hit the reset button when we’re feeling particularly run-down. With their help, we’ll all be back to feeling our best in no time.
Acknowledge and accept
“The first and most critical element to bouncing back after burnout is to acknowledge the burnout and allow yourself to give in to it, i.e. don't try to override it,” advises Andrew. “Too many women (and men) are unaccustomed to listening to the tell-tale signs and they consistently override their exhaustion with the result that the adrenals are shot to pieces, physical symptoms start to appear and they go deeper into emotional overwhelm. The irony is that by giving yourself permission to collapse, you will recharge much quicker.”
Food for thought
“If you are feeling run-down physically or emotionally, it is important to eat well,” says Dr Sturnham. “Feed your body with immune system boosting vitamin A, C and E antioxidants by eating plenty of fruit and vegetables. Boost your omega 3 fatty acids which are essential for your mood and immune system. Good food sources include oily fish and nuts, especially almonds and avocados.”
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No means no
“Improve your boundaries, i.e. learn to say ‘no,’” cautions Andrew. “In any and every relationship, unless and until we are able to say no, we are never authentically saying yes to anything. Practise saying no and explain why; friends who are worth having will completely understand. If we don't learn to have healthy boundaries, we go into sacrifice and that is a huge contributing factor to burnout. This is particularly true with our children, where we have to learn to say no.”
Ditch the detox
“So many of us suffer from burnout at this time of year and despite our best intentions, we are doing too much on too little sleep fuelled by bad quality food,” says Karen. “Most people focus on detoxing after Christmas, but for those of us that don't live in sunny California or similar climes we would be much better off focusing on replenishing rather than any dramatic cleansing.
“If you are suffering from burnout, it is a good idea to eliminate the foods that are taxing your adrenal system and adding to your exhaustion like refined sugar, highly processed foods and alcohol whilst ensuring your diet is made up of high quality, nutrient dense food, liquid and supplements.”
Recognise the signs of stress
“Sometimes when we are stressed and close to burnout, our bodies try to warn us that it is exhausted by sending out warning signals such as feeling fatigued, having poor concentration, erratic mood, difficulty enjoying actives one would normally enjoy, disturbed sleep, loss of appetite or excessive appetite and even anxiety and depression,” warns Dr Sturnham. “It may also present itself with physical symptoms such palpitations, dizzy spells and weakness. Listen to your body and slow down.”
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Body knows best
“Get still and take a moment to truly listen to what your body needs and heed it,” advises Andrew. “Many of us have become disconnected from the messages of our body. The body always knows what it needs. For example, it may actually be more beneficial for you to lie on the sofa for an hour than exhaust yourself further in the gym.”
“Begin each day with lemon water which is both alkalising and energising and eat some good quality protein for breakfast,” recommends Karen. “This is the time to up your intake of leafy green vegetables and make sure that you stay hydrated.
“As rest is such a vital part of recovery it is essential to create the best possible conditions for a good night’s sleep - try and incorporate a few minutes of meditation (which can be as simple as focusing on your breath) and switch off all technology at least one hour before bedtime!”
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Be kind to yourself
“Practise self-love. Any time that we end up in burnout, we have stopped caring for ourselves many months beforehand,” says Andrew. “Learn to self-soothe and fully appreciate that you can only love others to the extent that you can love yourself.”
“A problem shared is a problem halved. If you are close to burnout let someone close to you know,” recommends Dr Sturnham. “You may need help with childcare, finances or in the workplace. Sometimes that additional support can be all you need to pull you through a low spell. If you are worried about burnout and don't feel that you can get support, you can go and speak to your GP. They are used to dealing with stress and burnout and can give you expert advice and access to support services.”