If a single glance at your diary is sending you into a spin, we hear you. Yes, we know December is the month for fun, frivolity and dad dancing, but just how many cocktails and canapés can one girl really consume?! If you’re feeling more frantic than festive at the mo, taking time out from that tedious to-do list might feel almost impossible, but perhaps a little bit of me-time is what you need. Forget waiting for Jan to clean things up a little – it’s time for festive prehab. And here’s how you do it.
Get your om on
If you’re not managing to exercise as much as you used to – after all, there’s party upon party to go to – chances are you’re missing out on all those post-exercise happy hormones, otherwise known as endorphins. But during these stressful times, HIIT and heavy-duty workouts can seem to be even more of a slog than usual. So why not switch up your sweat sesh for something a little more mindful? Yoga is as good for the mind as for the body, so it’s the perfect way to give yourself a pre-Xmas break.
‘You can combat the feelings of being stressed, unfit and unhealthy by trying a restorative class or meditation,’ explains Will Wheeler, yoga director at LEVELSIX (levelsixstudios.co.uk). ‘A mix between dynamic and restorative yoga is always beneficial. More invigorating classes such as Ashtanga, Rocket or Vinyasa Flow are brilliant to challenge yourself, get your body moving and increase your strength and fitness. Balance this with more meditation-based passive classes such as restorative or yin style to stretch out, and take a moment to reflect and time out from the busy festive season,’ he adds. Yes, schedule in some mat time, even once or twice a week, and you’ll soon feel the soul-soothing, stress-busting benefits.
Light, light baby
While you can talk it out with mates or rant down the phone to your mum, sometimes it’s worth calling in the big self-love guns when you need to de-stress. If you don’t have an hour to put aside for a sauna session, or downward dog just ain’t your thing, have you thought about light therapy? Ajna light treatments – pre-programmed light sequences that flash at various rates to stimulate different parts of the brain – have taken the alternative therapy world by storm. It only takes 15 minutes to reset your stress levels and make you feel more grounded and grateful. Londoners, head over to yue float (www.yuefloat.com) for a tried-and-tested mind-resetting session (we left feeling deliciously zen) or use Dr Google to find out where else you can light up this Christmas.
You booze, you lose
While it can be tempting to skip a solid dinner for something more sparkling and liquid, if you’re feeling stressed, it’s worth watching how much is in your cup. Alcohol, while something of a social lubricant, can leave you feeling restless and starved of sleep and even cause feelings of anxiety the next day, the result of a drop in dopamine levels. For every glass of the boozy stuff, have one glass of water, and, as the NHS suggests, have two alcohol-free days a week.
It’s the season to eat. And eat. And eat. Studies show we consume up to 6,000 calories on Christmas day alone! But stressing about it isn’t going to make you feel any better, and nor is it going to make you wanna skip the cheeseboard. Instead, make slightly smarter choices. Switch your cream-topped festive coffee to green tea, and choose oats with a teaspoon of jam instead of a mince pie for breakfast. And (we know you know) take the stairs when you can, do air squats while the kettle’s boiling, talk to your colleague instead of hollering across the office, and treat yourself to a little walk around the park before you tuck into your packed lunch.
If you make time to love yourself a little more, move a little more and be mindful a little more, you’re less likely to feel the festive fug and the doom and gloom in Jan.