Five Ways To Manage Your Health Over The Festive Period

Over indulgence
Over indulgence

Christmas is a fabulous time of year but can also be a time for burn out due to over indulgence and abundance of social commitments.  We experienced this last year to an extent as it was our first Christmas with baby Savanna and everyone wanted to see her plus friends that we hadn’t seen for a while were home for Christmas.  We basically tried to do too much in the day and were not getting a lot of sleep at night due to a combination of new baby and too much socialising.  After a fun packed, extremely hectic Christmas week, Dave and I were both in bed with flu by 8pm on New Years Eve, totally exhausted.

We have reflected on this and will hopefully learn from our mistakes in years to come.

Here are 5 tips for managing yourself over the Christmas period.

Get plenty of sleep

This is essential!  Obviously I am not suggesting being a party pooper but it is important to be mindful of  sleep quality and quantity over the Christmas period as regular sleep patterns seem to go out of the window.  Getting good quality sleep at the right time can impact on physical, mental and emotional health and is a major contributor to general health and well being.

Each individual needs an individual amount of sleep, however the consensus is that most adults need between 6 and 8 hours per night.  According to the Heart, Lung and Blood Institute after several nights of losing sleep—even a loss of just 1–2 hours per night—your ability to function suffers as if you haven’t slept at all for a day or two.

Enough sleep is required for a healthy immune system to fight off Winter colds and viruses.  Your body repairs itself over night, stores memories and lays down neural pathways to allow you to face the next day.  Lack of sleep can lead to poor concentration, irritability and moodiness as well as longer term health problems.  It is not only the late nights over Christmas that reduce sleep but the excess alcohol and food intake that impact on sleep quality.

Think about making time for exercise, not eating heavy meals and drinking caffeine and alcohol too late into the night (or at least too late into every night!).  If you do have a particularly late night try and schedule a lie in or mid afternoon nap the next day to allow for recovery time.

Be organised/Prioritise

There are a lot of people to see over the Christmas period- friends, family and neighbours.  If you work out in advance who you are going to see and when, than you can avoid trying to cram too much in on the same day.  Spread out your time and energy over Christmas week and be a little bit selfish as you need to look after yourselves.  People will understand if you explain.  Try not to feel guilty if you can’t fit somebody in when it is best for them as guilt is a non productive, draining emotion that does not benefit anybody. There will be a solution that benefits everyone if you use effective communication skills.  It is also important to remember that you need to know your limits and be able to say no if appropriate as you cannot do everything!  Work out what is most important to you.

You can also be physically organised for Christmas by doing the majority of preparation in advance.  If you are entertaining friends or family prepare the vegetables/starters/deserts and lay the table the day before.  Delegate if possible, roping in others to help and delegating tasks as appropriate.  Sharing the load makes Christmas more pleasurable for everyone but people don’t know that you need help unless you ask!

Go for a walk
Go for a walk

Take time out for yourself

Difficult but important! Whether it be an afternoon nap, a walk or long bath, you need to take time out to rest and recharge your batteries.  Nobody can be permanently on the go.  It is also important to make time for your spouse or partner and smaller family unit to create special, intimate family memories.

Balance your eating  

Christmas is the time where people go all out in regards to food.  All of the things that you moderate during the year as you know that they are not good for you are indulged upon at Christmas, often resulting in a lethargic, bloated after effect which reduces energy levels and quality sleep.  When else would you eat Christmas pudding, mince pies, excessive amounts of cheese and chocolates all in one day!  People almost give themselves permission for a week long binge.

Nutritionally rich food
Nutritionally rich food

Obviously it is the time of year to treat yourself but for the sake of your health and how you feel it is important to make healthy choices whenever possible.  Try to keep your diet balanced, particularly maintain your five portions of fruits and vegetables per day.  Everything in moderation and know your limits.

When you are tired and stressed is it easy to lose essential vitamins and minerals which can lower your immunity and lead to common infections.  It may be worth considering a multi vitamin supplement to keep yourself boosted.



Drink sensibly

Doesn’t really apply to me this year as I am pregnant!  I will be keeping an eye on Dave though!  Although binge drinking is not recommended the occasional over indulgence won’t have any long term effects.  There are however things that you can do to minimise the effects of excessive drinking.  Make sure that you have a few alcohol free nights, alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water and avoid drinking on an empty stomach.  Darker drinks like red wine and brandy result in worse hangovers because of higher concentrations of chemicals called congeners.  Why not opt for a shandy instead of beer or white wine spritzer?

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