Borough Insight

Wellbeing at Christmas

Our health can take a bit of a battering at Christmas, as we enjoy seasonal overindulgence at a time when we tend to be less active; watching Christmas TV with a plate of nibbles or enjoying a tipple by a roaring fire, rather than pounding the miles on a treadmill at the local gym.christmas wellbeing

While it can be wonderful to succumb to festive temptation, it is also important to remember to take care of our physical and mental health.

Exercise
Staying active during winter will make you feel more energetic, which should make it a little easier to get out of your warm bed on cold, dark mornings. You may be tempted to eat more during the festive period and exercising will help you manage your weight better and keep your body in shape.

Just getting outside for a 20 minute walk each day can give you a boost.

Alcohol
At Christmas time, alcohol consumption in the UK rises, with Britons drinking 41% more than average in December and with over half of all people drinking more than the recommended guidelines. NHS advise is not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis (14 units is equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine).

One night out for your office party, enjoying a few drinks, and a couple of large ports with the Christmas stilton isn't likely to impact your health significantly, other than leaving you feeling bleary-eyed and in need of a hangover cure the next day. It's only when this becomes a regular thing, or when you start to enjoy a couple of drinks every day, that there could be a problem.

The best way to avoid hangovers is to drink sensibly and know what your body can cope with. Most of the symptoms of a hangover are related to dehydration as alcohol is a diuretic and removes fluid from the body. If, however, you know you are going out for a big night and anticipate that you may drink more heavily than usual then these tips may help:
   • Never go drinking on an empty stomach. Before you go out have a meal that includes carbohydrates (such as pasta or rice) as this will help to slow down the body’s absorption of alcohol.
   • Stay hydrated. Alternate alcoholic drinks with drinks of water or non-fizzy soft drinks.
   • Drink a pint of water before you go to sleep and keep a glass of water by the bed in case you are thirsty during the night.

Diet
When it's cold and dark outside, it can be tempting to fill up on unhealthy comfort food. However, it's important to ensure you still have a healthy diet and include five portions of fruit and veg a day.

Keep your diet balanced by having healthy snacks on hand such as nuts, fruit or dips like hummus. This can help to prevent you from overindulging on some of the richer food available.

A hearty breakfast means you won’t be so tempted to overindulge at lunchtime – porridge is a great way to start you day and it will also boost your intake of fibre.salad

Incorporating certain foods into your during the winter months can help you keep you immune system in tip-top condition.
   • Get plenty of Vitamin C – the body can’t store it, so you need some every day
   • Milky – keep your immune sysem in shape by making sure you have enough calcium
   • Get spicy – cayenne pepper, allspice and turmeric contain conponents that can help boost your immune system

Relationships
Although it is known as the season of goodwill, in reality it can be anything but! With pressures and expectations straining the most stable of relationships.

Christmas can also be the one time in the year when we spend time with relatives and others who hold very different opinions to ourselves.

   • Make the most of Christmas by choosing to spend as much time as possible with people you enjoy being around and who don’t wind you up (too much)
   • It might be Christmas but don’t expect miracles! If certain individuals have a habit of bickering or being critical, they are not going to change, so avoid triggers such as sensitive subjects and try to rise above it all.
   • Plan fun things to do for everyone (arguments are less likely to happen if people are involved in an activity)

If things feel a bit overwhelming or you find yourself getting upset, take some out and go for a walk, phone a friend or have some alone time.

The Samaritans offer support over the phone if you need to talk to someone. They offer a safe place for you to talk about whatever’s getting to you, you don’t have to be suicidal. Call 116 123 on any phone.

Christmas on your ownChristmas man
Christmas is a great time to be sociable but being sociable isn’t compulsory.

When you're on your own, you can celebrate Christmas however you want, without having to cater to the traditions or routines of other people.

If you find yourself on your own for Christmas there are many things you can do to make it special. Plan to spend time doing things that make you happy, whether it is a long walk, watching a favourite box set or a long indulgent self-pampering session.

However, If you feel lonely it can be helpful to speak to a friend or family member (Skype anyone)? If you know somebody who is on their own for Christmas, it can mean a lot to them if you get in touch.

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