Jolly well

Give yourself an early Christmas present this year — the gift of good health! Naturopath and medical herbalist Lisa Fitzgibbon shares some ways to support yourself during this mentally, emotionally, and physically challenging time of year. 

Words Lisa Fitzgibbon

As we approach the end of the year, the majority of us are labouring under the looming deadline of the holiday season. There never seem to be enough hours in the day. There are parties to attend, people to catch-up with, and presents & food to gather. And of course, there’s a mountain of work to complete, projects to finish and holidays to organise. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to delegate some of the responsibility (before it all gets too much), but you’ll still need to manage yourself carefully, otherwise you’ll be too tired, stressed and grumpy to enjoy your much deserved summer break.

Eating well, supplementing (where necessary), and performing regular mild to moderate exercise will help to fortify you, give you energy, reduce your stress, and assist you to sleep well. When you’re feeling robust, you can easily get through the silly-season unscathed. Here are some tips. 

Simplify your diet in the run-up to Christmas

It’s easy to follow some basic principles here such as being mindful of what you eat and when you eat it:

• Try to eat regularly throughout the day (three meals and two snacks)

This will help to keep your blood-sugar balanced which in turn will keep your energy, concentration and moods in balance. Eating regularly will also ensure that you’re getting adequate levels of nutrients.

• Try to include protein every time you eat. This macronutrient is important for maintaining the heath of your immune system, hormonal system, and your nervous system (which is responsible for correct mood and sleep function). Protein options include: red meat, chicken, seafood, legumes, eggs, dairy, and nuts & seeds.

•Try to maximise your nutrient levels. Focus on consuming a variety of fresh food-stuffs. 

Silly season survival supplements 

The following supplements are my top two recommendations to improve your overall resilience. They will help to increase energy, manage your stress levels (which will indirectly enhance your immune system function) and promote good sleep.

• A good quality B-group vitamin taken after breakfast, and

•A good quality magnesium powder or tablet taken during the latter part of the day.

Note: If you’re not keen on taking a synthetic supplement, then simply focus on ensuring your diet mostly consists of meat (organ meats are preferable in this particular case), seafood, whole-grains, legumes, dairy, eggs, nuts & seeds, avocado and dark green leafy veggies. You could also supplement your diet with Spirulina, Molasses or Brewers Yeast.

Don’t just eat greens for your health – walk amongst green too! 

By regularly engaging in mild to moderate exercise, you are increasing your energy and your resilience to stress. When you do this activity in nature, you will also promote better digestive function and improve your sleep quantity and quality!

Negative emotions improve significantly after walking in the park, bush or forest because green-time improves the mood. (Nature has a calming effect on us.) Walking in a green-space increases parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) activity, therefore significantly decreasing our heart rate.

Note: The PNS is the calming branch of our autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for digestion & resting.

If you go for your green-walk in the afternoon, you’ll improve your sleep as well! Taking your daily constitutional at this time actually cools us. This decline in body temperature that occurs after afternoon exercise acts as a signal to induce sleep at night.

So, there you have it – some simple, and relatively cost-effective gift ideas that you can lovingly give yourself to ensure a healthier and therefore happier holiday period!

Have yourself a merry little Christmas! 

Lisa Fitzgibbon is a registered Naturopath &  Medical Herbalist from OOMPH 

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