It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
It should be, anyway. The out of office is set, mulled wine is being served, and Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You is on repeat. (Maybe that’s just my house, but I don’t think so).
But despite the advent of online, which allows us to click and shop for gifts from the comfort of home or the office (or the car while we’re waiting for ballet/tennis/soccer to finish…) the holidays can end up being stressful, even for those of us who consider ourselves unflappable under the weight of a 100-point to-do list.
Over the last few weeks my personal Facebook page has been filled with posts from (mostly women) about people pinching the parking spot they’d been waiting for at the shopping centre, about standing in long queues with their children screaming, seemingly unpacifiable; about tangled Christmas lights and late turkey orders.
There will be champagne, you’ll eat too much, the routine will go out the window, and somewhere in Australia a window will be smashed in backyard cricket. You’ll get a present you don’t like, your husband/best friend/mum or someone who ‘should know better’ will say something that will have you seeing red.
I’m here to say stop and take a breath. The holidays won’t be perfect and you don’t need to be either. Take the pressure down, as John Farnham would say, on you but on your family and friends too. It’s been a massive year and instead of worrying too much about sticking to diets or exercise routines its time to enjoy the company of those we love the most.
With that in mind we assembled some of our favourite health and wellness experts and solicited their advice for staying health, happy and sane during this crazy period.
How to keep your nearest and dearest…near and dear
We asked Tammi Ireland from BARE Sexology. Her advice:
“The holidays can be a stressful time for romantic relationships. With alcohol-fuelled long lunches and family members asking when you’re going to get engaged/have kids/have another kid, it’s no surprise that Christmas holidays can be the most testing time of the year.
To survive, it’s important to be a team. If your partner is walking into your family Christmas lunch for the first time, tell them what nuisances to expect so they (and you!) can prepare.
Outside of Christmas day, don’t forget to celebrate the little things. Grab their butt as they walk past you in the hallway; spend those extra hours in bed of a morning spooning and initiating loving, sensual sex; stand under the mistletoe and kiss deeply because you have the time.
The best thing about the holidays is that you can take the time to reflect. Close out the year by making a list of all the things you’d like to achieve as a couple in 2018 – from your fantasies, to your milestones, to the personal goals you can support each other with. Keep this list on the fridge, check-in with it daily, and you’ll feel like you’re on holidays, every day of the year.”
For more relationship and self-love advice, follow BARE on Instagram.
On keeping your body moving and your energy high
We asked Elise Ntoumenopoulos – Founder and Director, MVMT Society, She said…
“I think its all about sticking to a routine and creating realistic goals. Hours of intense exercise and diet are so not going to happen. Holidays should be enjoyed. I think sneaking in a small burst of movement each day is a great way to keep moving, feel good and stay energised and strong. For me – I am a morning person and so exercise needs to be done first thing. Over the festive season, I always try and start the day with breakfast, coffee and a side-serve of MVMT. Usually just small little bursts – 10, 15 or 20 minutes of sculpting to set my day up. I travel everywhere with my Toning Tools – as I know how effectively they can intensify even the smallest burst of movement. I don’t do any more than that – it is enough to make me feel good, energised and productive.”
On holistic wellness
We asked Kelley Sloan, Owner at One Wellness. Her tips?
- Be water wise: it’s so important to stay hydrated and to combat the silly season festivities. Keeping your water intake up to flush out toxins, relieve Christmas party headaches, improve your mood and help you feel less fatigued is critical
- Go green: popping one to two teaspoons of a good green powder supplement (our tip: The Super Elixir) into some purified water will alkalise your body and give you a blast of antioxidants, loads of vitamins and pre and probiotics to support your digestion. If the idea of drinking your greens doesn’t appeal to you then you can’t go wrong with some chlorophyll tablets that will boost your antioxidant levels, detox the liver, improve digestion, cleanse your blood, make sure your skin stays glowing and help control your weight during turkey time. You can couple these with some spirulina tablets for extra vitamins, minerals and detoxification
- Eat for energy: don’t skip meals! With lots of social engagements filled with food it’s important not to skip meals as this will encourage you to over eat and you’ll end up consuming more calories than you normally would
- Maintain movement: make sure you exercise every day! If you can’t stick to your usual routine, even a 30 minute walk will do the trick. It’s important to keep the muscles moving so they flush toxins, maintain strength and cardiovascular health and get a good hit of oxygen to burn the extra food fuel, increase energy and help with any festive season hangovers
On how to eat just a little bit smarter
We spoke to Sydney-based Jacqueline Allwill, Nutritionist. Her expert advice?
While it can be challenging to stay on top of your health goals during the festive season there are some simple elements which can help you on the way:
- Be mindful and present with your food, engage with it and enjoy it. Try not to eat with distractions such as phones, social media and TV present – switch off!
- Fill your plate once and avoid heading back for seconds and thirds which can put too much pressure on your digestive system
- Add sour and bitter foods to your plate including rocket, radicchio, lemon, lime and vinegar which help the body digest foods
- Move your body – whether it’s a walk, dance, stretch, run, game in the backyard whatever the movement is, it will serve your body well so don’t let that component of your health go!
To read more about Jacqui visit her site.
To stay zen
Try these yoga poses:
- Legs-Up-The-Wall-Pose, or Viparita Karani
How to do it: Think of creating an L-shape, with the backs of your legs running up a wall, soles of the feet pointing towards the ceiling. Your hips will rest close to the join between floor and wall and you’ll be lying on your back staring at the ceiling. You can rest hands by your sides, palms facing up, or place one hand over your heart and one on your belly to stay conscious of your breathing. More instructions here.
Good for: anxiety, resting sore legs and feet after too much time running around, calming the mind, gently stretching the back. Make it more comfy by placing a blanket or pillow under your hips, and play around with your legs – they don’t need to be completely straight up against the wall!
- Child’s Pose, or Balasana
How to do it: Kneeling on the floor, bring your big toes to touch, and separate your knees to hip-width distance apart (you can also do this with knees together, if it feels better). Lay your stomach down over your thighs and reach your arms out long in front of you, letting your chest fall in the gap between your knees. Draw shoulders down away from your ears and think of creating maximum distance between your tailbone and the crown of your head. As you breathe in, imagine space in your pelvis and as you breathe out, sink and relax towards the floor. Take care of your knees in this pose. More instructions here.
Good for: a restorative pose, it helps to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, helping you move from ‘fight or flight’ responsiveness, to calmer headspace.
- Goddess Pose, or Utkata Konasana
How to do it: Stand with your feet wider than your shoulders, as if you were going in to second position at barre. Think of your connection to the earth, and make sure you protect your knees by keeping them in line with your second and third toes. You can either place your thumbs together and your first fingers together and place the triangle shape over your pubic bone, or send your arms strong up to the sky, thinking of a long, straight spine and keeping a slight bend in the elbows.
Good for: like the name…harnessing your inner goddess, power. feminine energy and compassion.*
If you do feel like you’re about to blow a fuse, go for a walk or find a spot and take a few deep breaths.
At the end of the day, remember to go easy on yourself and on others. Count your blessings, your good health, hug your loved ones and have yourselves a merry holiday season.
Have you got any tips for staying sane during this crazy time of year? Let us know over at the Iris Lillian Squad on Facebook.
And while you’re thinking about enjoying the holidays, consider how to break-up (just a little) from social media by reading this!
*Please keep any injuries or other medical issues in mind when deciding to practice these or any other poses!