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It’s that time of year! And I’m not just talking about Christmas…

From Coughs, sneezes and colds, to too much alcohol and food – our bodies go through a lot in the chilly festive season.

In the UK we are having an uncharacteristically mild December, meaning that we are all wrapped up for the cold, ‘just in case’, creating the perfect environment for germs to fester.

Many of my friends have had a minor cold develop to a cough and then to a chest infection which now requires antibiotics. So don’t be stubborn, if you’ve had your cough or cold for longer than a week please go and see a doctor!

In the meantime, if you’re lucky enough to have a clean bill of health so far this year, here a few hints and tips on keeping yourself in good health so that you can enjoy this beautiful festive season to its fullest!

1. Manage Stress

What with gifts to buy for your mum, sister, brother, aunt, cousins, nieces, nephews, colleagues, yoga students; then your partner’s family and everyone asking you what you should get your partner (plus where on earth the money is coming from for all of the above because that new year’s resolution you made for the tenth time to save up for Christmas from January this year didn’t quite happen)! Alongside work and travel commitments, this can be a crazy time of year and take its toll on your stress levels.

So take it easy, get a pen and paper and make a plan. I don’t know how many times I’ve ended up buying a second gift for someone I forgot I’d already bought for!

If you have ended up using a credit card for gifts, take the time to search for the best deal and perhaps balance transfer. And if your finances have taken an unplanned hit already then take some time to look at viable options for managing any debt before you do any further shopping.

Most importantly; while you’re spending so much time thinking of everyone else – remember yourself!! Take some time to buy yourself a hot chocolate, perhaps get an express spa treatment, a massage perhaps, or take a yoga class! Don’t forget to treat yourself well.

2. Keep an eye on your weight

I’m not asking you to jump on the January Diet bandwagon early, but being overweight means that your body has to try that little bit (or a lot) harder. Your immune system is weaker making it more difficult to get over that cold or flu, but your heart is also under extra pressure and with the time of year for drinking and eating, your poor old liver and kidneys don’t half take a hit! So just be especially mindful of what’s going on inside.

3. Drink lots of water (alongside the wine)

Eat, Drink & Be Merry! But also remember that food this time of year is loaded with salt and hidden (or blindingly obvious) sugars, and that’s without the booze! Mulled wine on Christmas eve, Bucks Fizz with breakfast, wine with dinner, Baileys, brandy… the list goes on! If you can, do try and keep tabs on how much you’re drinking and try and balance out with soft ones to ensure that you’re hydrated and help your poor old kidneys detox as much as they can keep up!

4. Travel Safely and Sensibly

You’ve seen the adverts – don’t drink and drive! It’s just not worth the risk to yourself and other people. But also be mindful of snow and ice issues, and check and double check trains and airport updates so you’re not left freezing and uncomfortable in delays or accidents.

5. Be mindful of Christmas stuffing!

So apparently we consume around 3,000 calories in our Christmas dinner! That’s more than the entire recommended daily intake for a grown man! (or two, if you’re like me) This feast not only contributes to weight gain but also leaves you open to indigestion and heartburn – not to mention lethargy for the rest of the day, reducing the chances of you burning much of it off. Instead of gorging yourself, maybe halve the mountain on your plate then take a 20-minute break to see if you are still hungry (it takes this long for the brain to register that the stomach is full). If you are then go for it and summit that entire mountain, but the chances are, you’ll realize you’ve had enough, and you’ll have more for leftovers the next day too!

6. Get moving

Following on from the above, why not take a walk? As tempting as it is to snuggle into the sofa nursing a food baby, why not wrap up in your new scarf and hat, put on a pair of those socks from your aunt and your boots and go for a stroll. After dinner will aid digestion too, and you could give the dog a break from the madness and perhaps suggest that the family joins you too?

7. Get your vitamins

Most of us don’t touch a piece of fruit on Christmas day beyond maybe a traditional Satsuma (or even swap that for the chocolate equivalent from Terry!). Thankfully, my vegetarian diet means I eat more veg than the average bear but at the same time, have you ever noticed that all the desert options on a menu have that beautiful little ‘v’ next to them? (this did make the decision to ditch meat easier still!).

It is of course beneficial to take a multi vitamin, and vitamin C will help you fight off the bugs, but do try and keep a varied diet outside of chocolates, meat and potatoes that we pile onto our plates. With Parsnips, carrots and sprouts (yes I am one of those people who like sprouts) there are plenty of options to add variety to your plate, You could even try making cranberry sauce yourself rather than buying the sugar loaded versions from the shops?

8. Careful cooking

Finally, if your Christmas duties include cooking the dinner (thankfully, mine don’t! woohoo!), you won’t be delighted to hear that according to the Food Standards Agency, December is one of the most common months for people to get food poisoning. To minimize the risks, don’t leave food out all day. Put out small amounts at a time, so that what is on the table has just been cooked or just come out of the fridge. Ideally, try to use any leftovers within 48 hours or freeze them. If you’re haivng turkey, always defrost it in the fridge, allowing 10 to 12 hours per kilo and do not wash the bird, as this can spread bacteria around, which will be destroyed by cooking anyway.

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