Your body and mind are a well-tuned unit. Generally speaking, they always act in harmony to ensure that you stay in a balanced, healthy state. Coping with stressors, of all types, comes naturally to the body – provided that these stresses are either relatively minor, previously encountered, or don’t all come at once!
Christmas, for many, is a time of excesses and it is these excesses that can very quickly tip the balance away from your homeostatic diurnal norm to a state of anguish in many of your body systems.
- Diet – we all give in to temptation every now and again, but Christmas is peculiar in that we give in several times a day! Not just the fact that we eat more, it is compounded by the fact that we eat so much that is not good for us, limited nutritional value, potential to completely disrupt our blood sugar levels and/or harmful for our stomach, pancreas and liver.
- Exercise – some of us are sedentary throughout the working week but, perhaps even the soft, low sofas and ancient armchairs are too much to resist. Our bodies are designed to move – regularly and frequently! Try to fill some of the time between snacks, meals and that extra tipple with some movement. The weather is not always conducive to being outdoors, but considering the technological advances in outdoor gear, you should be able to stay dry and warm – otherwise, on with the good old-fashioned gloves, scarves and bobble hats (especially the ones that you have just had knitted for you by Grandma!)
- Sleep – paradoxically, doing very little during the day, especially in an over-warm lounge, makes us very tired. Alcohol intake during the day makes us positively snoozy and the sugar crash after a high carbohydrate intake knocks us out completely. But beware! They all conspire to reduce the quality of our sleep and, often, the duration as well. Sleep is disturbed by your metabolism working overtime – often manifesting as weird dreams or nightmares, or even waking you up in a bit of a lather. You then start the following day already feeling under par – just to go and do it all again!
- Stress – even if you’re not the one responsible for the shopping/cleaning/preparing/cooking for the get-together that you are hoping to enjoy, all of which are incredibly stressful (so please remember this when you simply ‘show up’ and expect to be entertained), you will still have to survive Uncle Fred’s inappropriate jokes, Grandad’s stories, the young’uns noisy play and Auntie’s flirting. Why are they called ‘the Christmas holidays’?
- Because of all of the above, your poor digestion gets knocked totally out of whack. Not only the stodgy/additive filled/fibre-free/e-number packed food slows down your digestion almost to a standstill, but the dehydration from alcohol, sugary drinks and warm rooms adds to this too. Your digestive system works much much better if your body moves, literally massaging the intestines, so the lack of exercise could be the final straw on the camel’s back.
BUT – don’t get the hump.
Be aware of the warning signs – headaches; back-aches and stiffness; tummy feeling bloated (usually occurs well before any pain); change/difficulty in toilet habits; waking early, or repetitively during the night and then do something active and positive – you don’t always have to just reach for the bottles of medicines!
Be sensible and mindful of all the points above and remember that ‘moderation’ in all things can help you avoid the signs and symptoms above and get you through Christmas in a happy, peaceful way.
Which, after all, is what it’s all about, surely?