Stress-Free at Festival Time
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 more conducive to despair than delight. A little strategising and a few cunning plans, though, and you could be sailing into 2013 feeling as if the elves were actually on your side.
Strategy 1: Energy
It may sound obvious, but don’t get overtired. Consult the information (box-out) on poor sleep and do some serious scheduling to get your sleep to the top of the priority list. We all know children are awful when they are tired, but it’s not much fun being a tired adult either.
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.
Bag a Bedtime to Bolster your Brain
Decide firmly that you will be in bed and preferably asleep by 11pm 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.
Chuck out the Caffeine
Choose non-caffeinated drinks such as soothing lemon verbena, lemon balm, ginger and cardamom, and berry juice concentrates to have hot and comforting.
Eating a heavy meal late at night is one of the best ways to disrupt your sleep. Keep early hours and just nibble at night if you really feel the need for nourishment.
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.
By the way, 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, so you’ll get up eventually with lower 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 get a fruit smoothie into yourself the minute you get up again, to power up your digestive system without too much effort.
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 to create a zingy yoghurt or to blend for a sweet but healthy pudding sauce.
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!
Scrumptious Sources of 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, prunes
Try using prune juice in smoothies or prune juice concentrate when making cakes. Use chopped prunes and apricots as well as sultanas and raisins in fruit cakes.
Jump about! Yes, you do feel like you’re dragging a ton weight around with you and your eyelids are permanently drooping, but even a 10 minute walk or 5 minutes of skipping or 2 minutes of stomach crunches will make you feel better. The endorphin kick is great, and for 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, keep up the 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.
Just Say No
Here’s a concept, especially for busy women. 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. Refuse extra responsibility: now is not the time to take on running the allotment group, however much a secretary is needed. Each thing may seem small on its own, but you’ll have heard of the straw that broke the camel’s back? Offload as many straws as you can and see how much better you feel. Take Confidence Essence to help you say no if it’s not a word currently in your vocabulary.
Some times Say Yes
Sorry to seem confusing, but there is one thing you should certainly say yes to: help! Yes, let the children hang up cards even if they won’t do them neatly. Yes, let partners take on chores if they should offer, even if they won’t be done perfectly. It’s all giving you smidgeons of time to breathe in and out.
Water. You’ll have heard this before, but people tend to forget it during the colder months and especially when there are bucket loads of alcoholic beverages around. Get your 1.5 litres of still, plain water into you to help keep your energy levels up and your kidneys happy. It’s good for your skin too, so literally suck it up! Have it warm if you prefer it that way. Drink it through a straw if you really don’t like it – for some reason this makes it easier.
Flower Essences. If you haven’t tried them before, now is a good time to experiment. Vitality Essence is a great place to start, either before or after a big night out, or both!
Strategy 2: Stress
Not being dog-tired will help hugely in keeping your stress levels down. There’s nothing like fatigue to make your nervous system more easily frazzled.
Nutrients for Nerves
Magnesium – try Salus Haus liquid magnesium for a tasty and easily absorbed treat
Magnesium is found in alfalfa, almonds, apples, avocados, bananas, buckwheat, brazils, brown rice, cashews, celery, dates, figs, fish, dried apricots, chickpeas, millet, oats, brown rice, spinach, dark green vegetables, parsley, sesame seeds, soya, haricot and kidney beans
B vitamins – Biocare do a liquid B complex that absorbs easily
B vitamins are plentiful in oatmeal, salmon, mackerel, walnuts, soya beans, lentils, butter beans, haricot beans, bananas, avocados, buckwheat, raisins, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, and pecan nuts
It’s easy to collapse into the nearest biscuit tin and try to calm the chaos with a hefty dose of carbohydrates, but refined sugar not only rots your teeth but also triggers adrenalin and depletes your immune function. None of this is helpful. Chew a healthy handful of dried fruit, such as figs or dates or glorious unsulphured apricots, and feel the goodness seeping into your system whilst the complex carbs fire up your energy levels.
Stress also impedes your digestive process, so counter the mayhem by remembering to chew your food well. This may sound simplistic but it works wonders and costs you nothing except a little mental effort and jaw action.
Don’t droop over your buffets but sit up and let your stomach do its stuff. Try not to have too much wheat if you bloat easily, and don’t drink pints of anything, even water, with your meals, because that contributes to indigestion.
Add slices of lemon to your hot water when you do drink it (away from meals), to support your liver as it fights its way through the aftermath of feasts of fatty foods. Other remedies to stimulate good digestion and improved fat metabolism are artichoke and dandelion. Take them as tinctures before meals to get additional power to your innards, or take them afterwards if you feel the oncoming twinges of indigestion.
It’s very helpful to keep your digestion up and running, partly because indigestion is painful and bloating is bad for your silhouette in that special party outfit, and partly because you need to absorb the nutrients to keep your nervous system stable.
You can use herbs for reducing stress too, when the moments of panic crowd in on you and deadlines become dreadlines. Start with Avena sativa for gentle support – great for giving to the children if they are getting over excited or can’t sleep. Passiflora is slightly stronger but still gentle enough to take without getting sleepy or having to worry about contraindications with medication. Valerian is faster acting and can be taken in small doses for relaxation and larger doses for sleep. Take it in juice rather than water, as it has a singular taste that not everyone appreciates! Hypericum (St John’s Wort) is a useful prop if you aren’t looking forward to family get-togethers. It takes a week or two to get going, so plan ahead if you want to benefit from it. It is contraindicated with many medications, so always check.
When you’re stressed, your immune function is lowered. If you get ill then it’s just another source of trauma and even more draining of the little energy you have left. Avoid the danger by dosing up on Echinacea on a daily basis if you know you’re going to be under pressure. If you’re travelling during the holidays, take extra doses whilst exposed to large crowds or in close proximity to strangers with coughs and colds – Echinacea has been shown to reduce the risk of infection on planes, for example, so it’s worth having to hand.