Dreading the party nights? Shuddering at the thought of Santa? If your to-do list already stretches several times around the block, the advent of the merry months of festivities can be draining. A little strategising and a few energy-boosting tips and you could be sailing into 2018.
The perils of poor sleep
Not getting sufficient sleep is a torment, and has many horrible side effects, from looking worse (just in time for that big party) to feeling your brain disintegrate.
Chuck out the caffeine
Choose non-caffeinated drinks such as soothing lemon verbena, lemon balm, ginger and cardamom, and berry juice concentrates and serve hot for a comforting boost.
Eating a heavy meal late at night is one of the best ways to disrupt your sleep. Eat early in the evening and just nibble at night if you really feel the need for nourishment.
Water is easily forgotten during the colder months, especially when there are so many alcoholic beverages around. However, It’s just as important to get your 1.5 litres of water this season as this will help keep your energy levels up and your kidneys happy. It’s good for your skin too.
Bag a bedtime
Decide firmly that you will be in bed and preferably asleep by 11 pm every night for a fortnight, and see how much better you look and feel. Your memory will improve and you’ll feel more in control and even-tempered.
Sleeping late doesn’t make up for hitting the hay in the early hours of the morning. You’ll be dehydrated and your blood sugar will be all over the place, which may result in backache (miserable kidneys) and strange cravings (blood sugar playing catch-up). If you’re sleeping in, get up and have some warm water at your usual wake-up time, before heading back for a snooze. Then, upon waking for the second time, have a fresh fruit smoothie to power up your digestive system.
Herbs can help
Try a mixture of Valerian and Hops to get you nodding peacefully at the prescribed hour. These herbs also help you sleep more soundly, passing through all the five stages of sleep to ensure you process the day’s happenings and wake feeling refreshed.
Try an iron tonic such as Floradix to power you through the holidays. Iron absorbs better in the presence of vitamin C, so fill your fruit bowls with delicious mango and papaya, pineapple and dragon fruit. Get bags of frozen berries to defrost when you want a special topping for your cereal or, if you fancy a sweet treat, mix into natural yoghurt.
If you need a little extra power, take Eleutherococcus (Siberian Ginseng) – but be aware that it mixes very badly with caffeine, so take it instead of coffee, not with it!
Load up on iron
Wholegrain cereals, green leafy veg, sea vegetables, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, adzuki beans, soya beans, sunflower seeds, millet, tofu, figs, apricots, black strap molasses, cashews, whole lentils, chickpeas and prunes are all great sources of iron.
Try using prune juice in smoothies or prune juice concentrate when making cakes and use chopped prunes and apricots as well as sultanas and raisins in fruitcakes.
Get up and go. Even a 10-minute walk, 5 minutes of skipping or 2 minutes of stomach crunches will make you feel better. The endorphin kick is great, and its free. It’s best if you get outside for that precious 10 minutes, as daylight keeps winter sadness at bay and stimulates your endocrine system. If your circulatory system is sluggish and you feel the cold easily, support your vitamin C intake and try Ginkgo biloba to stimulate the blood flow. Ginkgo is also good for brain function, which never comes amiss when you’re in organisational overdrive.
Decline to take on any more projects – the school play will have to run without you. Turn down unwanted invitations boldly – that’s valuable sleeping time you would be wasting – and refuse extra responsibility. Each thing may seem small on its own, but offload any unnecessary responsibilities and see how much better you feel. Try Confidence Essence to help you say no if it’s not a word currently in your vocabulary.
But don’t be afraid to say yes
Contradictory I know, but there is one thing you should certainly say yes to; help! Let the children hang up cards even if they won’t do them neatly and let partners take on chores even if they won’t be done perfectly. Take this extra time for yourself and breathe slowly in and out.
Alison Cullen is a nutrition therapist for A.Vogel and a health educator.Last modified: November 17, 2020