• Dr Charlotte Hay

How to Survive the Holiday Season

While some people start counting down to Christmas in July (I'm looking at you, Aunt Muriel!), for most of us the Holidays can be a challenging, complex season: juggling family commitments, too much alcohol and unhealthy food, trying not to get sick, finishing work projects, and trying to buy last-minute gifts... not to mention the added stress that Covid has caused. On top of all that you might also be struggling with the long, dark nights, the cold, missing the Sunshine and heat... maybe even full-blown Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

So what can we do to protect ourselves during this period, both physically and emotionally? Here are 5 things you can do to make the Festive Season a little bit brighter...


1. Start journalling.


Embrace Winter for what it’s supposed to be: a time for introspection and reflection, for looking back over your year – seeing what worked for you, what didn’t, what you can let go of, and what you would like more of in the New Year. Make a ritual out of it: buy yourself a beautiful notepad - something that you want to write in - pop the kettle on and get cozy, and start writing...

2. Make a (healthy) hot chocolate.


Winter nights call for warm, hug-in-a-mug, drinks... plus cacao is a natural mood booster! Here's my secret recipe for a super indulgent Mexican-style hot chocolate that loves you back:

Ingredients:

1 mug oat milk (or any other plant milk you like)

1 tbsp raw cacao powder

1-2 dates (without the stones), washed

Pinch cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp smooth almond butter

1 tsp maca powder (optional)

Directions:

Blend all the ingredients together in a high powdered blender. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat on a low-medium heat until hot (don’t let it boil). Serve in a mug, with a dusting of cinnamon!

3. Get sweaty...


If you feel the cold in your bones, I highly recommend finding a local sauna or steam room and using it regularly – there’s a reason saunas are a part of Scandinavian culture! Alternatively, getting sweaty from a good workout might help you banish some of those Winter blues... but equally, don’t force it or beat yourself up if you’d rather just curl up in front of the fire! Yin or restorative yoga might be more what you need this Season, so listen to your body.

4. Don’t neglect your fruit and veg.

Winter is a time to be extra kind and gentle to yourself, so don’t beat yourself up if you're not eating as healthily as you would like this Season (it would be great if we could apply this compassion to ourselves throughout the year too!). At the same time though, try to make sure you’re still getting your 7-a-day, as food has such a powerful impact on our mood... so you might find yourself feeling even crappier if you’re eating crappier. Try swapping cooling raw foods, like smoothies and salads, with healthy but warm-and-comforting foods, like complex carbs (think brown rice and sweet potato), lots of roast veg, miso soup (or any soup for that matter), porridge with nut butter and stewed fruit, etc. Try making a healthy versions of your favourite comfort foods, like mac-and-cheese, for example, and for snacks think roast nuts and dates. This should also help keep your hunger cravings at bay.


5. Keep hydrated.

Let's face it, alcohol is not always avoidable this Season (especially if we have a lot of social engagements), and, in moderation, it can bring us some pleasure and relaxation. But if you are going to drink, make sure to stay hydrated with lots of water as well. Especially when it’s cold out, we can sometimes forget to drink water, or we might not feel like having a cold drink, but water is important all year round, and even more so when we know we will be drinking alcohol. If cold water doesn’t appeal, try having a cup of warm/hot water with lemon and ginger first thing in the morning, and sipping on herbal teas, or hot water, throughout the day.

Do you struggle this Season? Would you like more info on how to beat SAD? Let me know in the comments below, or book in for a free discovery call with me!

To getting warm and cozy,

Dr Charlotte

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