Christmas time means different things to different people: for some it is a time of joy and festivity, while for others it can be a time of great loneliness. It’s often a very busy period while we try to balance the expectations of friends, family and work. It can be very difficult to maintain good self-care whilst all these things are going on. Here are a few practical tips for staying well over the festive season.

Slow down

It might seem counter-intuitive when you have so many things to do but remember the tortoise and the hare. Ancient acupuncture wisdom tells us that to live healthily we need to live in sync with the seasons. Winter is a time when the whole of nature is resting; the landscape is barren, whilst the potential for new growth stays hidden below the surface; many animals hibernate; water freezes and time seems to stand still. And yet, we humans are running around at a speed of knots, trying to get everything done.

When we place a lot of pressure on ourselves we’re in a constant state of stress. Whilst we’re wired to deal with short bursts of stress, we haven’t evolved to sustain long periods without it negatively impacting our health. Our body will interpret our need for speed as a threat to survival and redirect resources in order to help us survive the perceived danger but this change in body processes can lead to headaches, digestive issues, fatigue and sleep problems. If stress continues un-checked it can lead to a myriad of serious long term health issues like increased blood pressure and poor heart health etc. [1]

There is a large amount of research now that shows that our bodies respond to what we’re thinking [2]. So staying aware of your thoughts can help reduce your stress levels. A good mantra to practice as Christmas time is “There is plenty of time to get everything done, all is well.” Every time you catch yourself rushing, stop, taking a breath and repeat this mantra to yourself five times.

“There is plenty of time to get everything done, all is well.”

Make time to rest and sleep

It’s winter, it’s cold, the whole of nature is resting: make sure you follow suit and schedule in time for relaxation and good quality sleep. If you know you have some late nights in the diary, block out some time either side of those days to get an early night. Use good sleep hygiene [3] to ensure you have a restorative night’s sleep and you’ll enjoy the parties all the more.

Sleep is a crucial component of your immune system, so the less you sleep, the more likely you are to succumb to the winter lurgy.

It’s not all about sleep though, we also need to ensure we schedule in some quality downtime whilst we’re awake! We love this quote from Tim Kreider’s blog entry, “The Busy Trap” [4].

“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.”

What’s crucial here is good time management. Plan ahead and don’t over-commit yourself. Don’t be afraid to say “No” if you’re diary if already full and you have no time to recover in-between.

Get some sunshine

There may not be much of it about, but that’s even more reason to make sure you get your dose of sunshine. Our body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin and this is essential for good bone, teeth and muscle health. New studies are finding that it’s also helpful for preventing many other conditions, like depression [5], weight gain [6], multiple sclerosis [7], heart disease [8] and flu [9].

This year, Public Health England (PHE) issued new advice [10] saying that 1 in five people in the UK have low vitamin D levels and may want to consider supplementation during the winter. If you do choose to supplement, do bear in mind that you can overdose on vitamin D so to be safe, you might want to consider getting your levels checked. We can provide vitamin D tests, and you can buy them in our shop. People with some medical conditions need to be careful with the amount of vitamin D they supplement so please check with your doctor if you’re unsure.

Eat well (in between indulgence)

We all fall off the health wagon a little over Christmas but try to compensate for the excess by keeping up the good stuff too. Even as a natural health clinic we still like to recognise that we are mere humans and eating a little bit of what you fancy over Christmas is normal. What we try not to do is eat too much low nutrition food at the expense of a balanced diet.

Juicing can be a great way to get more nutrients without having to eat more, especially if you’re not eating enough fruit and vegetables. While we wouldn’t recommend this as a long term solution to compensate for a poor diet, it might help, for Christmas week to make sure you’re getting enough of what you need. There are many great juicing resources on the internet. We particularly like Reboot with Joe and Kris Carr who have both overcome severe ill-health by changing their diet.

Stay hydrated

We’ve written a previous blog about the amount of water that we should drink to keep us healthy. While drinking alcohol in super-heated homes and pubs really dries out our bodies, having a glass of water in between each eggnog could help to keep your fluid levels up and might help minimise the negative effects of a hangover; remember that water won’t totally prevent a hangover though and it won’t protect your liver from excessive alcohol consumption. Read this NHS alcohol myth buster to find out whether other common drinking beliefs are true or false!

Book in for an acupuncture treatment

Studies show that acupuncture can boost immunity [11] and reduce anxiety [12]: both important benefits during this hectic and germ-filled season.

Take advantage of our special offer this month and receive the initial consultation for half price! That’s £35 instead of £70! (Or £31.50 instead of £63 for over 65s)

What’s the point?

There is a point that is referred to as ‘the empirical point for hangovers’. We couldn’t find any research to prove its effectiveness but there is some anecdotal examples. Let us know if it helps you!

Stomach 45

This point is located on the 2nd toe (the one next to the big toe). It’s on the corner of the nail bed, on the opposite site of the nail to the big toe.