Christmas is now right around the corner, and I, for one, have never been so glad to have the end of a year in sight! As we move into the very last part of the year, we all need to be careful to avoid getting sick and ruining whatever Christmas it is we have planned – yes, we’re all thinking about covid… but are you also thinking about stress, exercise and diet?
Always sick at Christmas?
It seems like someone we know is always sick at Christmas – if you’re a parent, this seems to be even more the case – there’s a lot of stress to deal with, and kids do seem to be pretty good at spreading any germs which are going around. While those of us who are trying to organise family gatherings have more stress to deal with (and even more than usual this year), plenty of people with very little additional stress over the holiday period also seem to get ill – so, why do so many people seem to get run down, and how can we avoid getting sick this Christmas?
Stay well this Christmas
Chiropractors, fundamentally, believe in the need to balance our lives – taking short term actions now, to benefit longer-term health. We understand that you cannot make poor choices forever and expect to stay well,m while at the same time we believe that making good choices now will pay off! In short – Managing our daily choices well = managing our daily stresses well = staying well.
Each day, our bodies are tasked with handling our chemical, physical, and emotional stresses in order to protect and maintain an optimal state of health. That includes what goes into our bodies, how we use our bodies and any changes we make to our in our habits in response to stressful situations. Each is vitally important – because research shows that stress can actually make you more vulnerable to illness.
Knowing that, here are 4 fundamental steps you can take today to gift yourself better health as we head into 2021…
- Daily Movement: Exercise is an essential way to keep your mind and body fit over the holidays.
- Mental Moments: Each day, set aside time to pause, decompress and count your blessings.
- Portion Planning: Try to plan and balance your meals so you give yourself the best shot at avoiding any extra empty calories or foods that may lead to added inflammation.
- Stress control You probably can’t avoid much of the “Christmas work” that needs to be done – but I bet you can spread it out!
Let’s look at some simple suggestions for each point:
Daily movement: Exercise is critical not only to stay fit but also to give sore and tight muscles the opportunity to unwind and relax. What’s critical during the winter months is to be kind to your body and exercise the right way, however – last year I wrote an in-depth article on exercising well in the cold, so check it out here!
Mental moments: There’s been a lot to feel bad about this year – for virtually everyone it’s been a stressful experience. I pride myself and the clinic on being a positive mental attitude zone, but let’s be honest – it’s been rubbish. That said, there’s still a lot to be grateful for, and during the holiday period, this is what we should focus on. Try to spend just 5 minutes a day thinking about the things which are going well and the things you are grateful for.
Portion planning: Research suggests that the average brit consumes just under 1000 calories in an average Christmas dinner… which doesn’t sound so bad, but that’s just the dinner. If you include the desert, drinks and chocolate nibbles throughout the day, its thought that the average consumption is around 7,000 calories – and that’s huge! Just imagine multiplying that out by several days, and you can suddenly see how those extra pounds just seem to appear. I wrote an entire blog on reducing the calorie cost of Christmas here, so check that one out too!
Stress control: There are lots of aspects of putting together a Christmas celebration which are stressful – but you don’t need to leave them all until the last minute! The one advantage most of us have this year is extra time, so start the planning, the (online!) shopping and the wrapping early – have the ambition of being “ready” somewhere around the 20th, so that you can enjoy some time off for yourself!
 Psychological Stress and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. NEJM. 1991. Stress Management. Mayo Clinic. 2020.