01 December 2006

Silly Season survival tips

Will you start your holidays in good health, ready to enjoy the magic of summer?

Or are you, like most people, rushing to meet all your commitments by the end of the year, planning and shopping for Christmas, attending end of year celebrations and running your body into the ground?

A lot of people are so busy and run down by the end of the year that they get sick as soon as they finally get some rest! Their holidays are spent recovering from the flu and catching up on much needed sleep. By the time they are feeling refreshed and rested, it’s time to go back to work again.

By getting some balance back in your life, you can finish the year on a high and make the most of the glorious Australian summer.

Here are seven top tips to help you survive the silly season.

1. Rest
Getting enough good quality rest and sleep is usually easier said than done at the end of a busy year. Make a commitment to have an early night when you don’t have social engagements to attend.  If you do find that you are going out several nights of the week, try to have a nap in the afternoon.  Even if it is just for an hour or so, it will help you to recharge your batteries.

If you are having trouble sleeping, refer to the earlier article on natural sleep techniques.  Herbal teas such as chamomile or valerian before bedtime can help, as can warm milk.

If these techniques still aren’t enough, then call the Clinic for some convenient herbal pills that you can keep in the bathroom cabinet for those nights when you can’t easily drift off to sleep.

2. Food
When your usual sleeping and eating routine is disturbed during the Silly Season, it can really create havoc with your health and peace of mind.  Even if you are eating out a lot, try to always start the day with a nutritious breakfast.  Whole grain cereals, such as oats, provide energy and also calm your body and mind.

When you’re at social events, try to opt for healthy snacks where possible and if you are the host then make sure you offer your guests healthy options.  For example, have sushi and wraps instead of deep-fried or highly processed foods.  Serve vegie sticks with yoghurt dips or homous and unsalted nuts with organic dried fruit, alongside chips and cheeses, to give your guests the option to stay healthy.

If you are going to an event with finger food, then try to grab a sandwich or a salad before you go so you are not hungry and filling up on high calorie, salted food.

If you still find that you’re overindulging then it could be time to consider a Herbal Party Pack.  It’s a selection of three classic herbal formulas for headache, nausea and sluggish digestion due to overeating.  Call the Clinic to order your pack.

3. Drink
At this time of year, alcohol is served at all hours of the day and night, from champagne breakfasts to late night cocktail parties.  Aim to reduce the quantity of alcohol you’re consuming, while still being socially acceptable by holding a glass of something!  Always go for low-alcohol options when you can, such as light beer or a wine spritzer.  Try to alternate each glass of an alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic one such as water or soda-lime-bitters. If someone offers to recharge your glass then ask for half a glass.

If you’re having cocktails then try non-alcoholic fruit-based versions such as a virgin mary or an alcohol-free daiquiri.  Then you’ll be keeping up your fruit & veg and your liver will thank you.  When all else fails, the headache and nausea formulas in your Herbal Party Pack can come to the rescue.

4. Exercise
Just a half hour walk each day will help to clear your head and keep your energy flowing.  If you’re thinking of making a New Year resolution to exercise regularly then give yourself a Christmas gift of an interesting exercise class like martial arts, fitness training or yoga to help you to get motivated.

5. Moderation
The Taoist philosophy of Chinese Medicine is based on “everything in moderation”.  Just as overeating is damaging to your health, following an overly restrictive and punitive diet creates disharmony in your mind.

If you really need some chocolate then have a square or two rather than the whole block!  Craving and denial can be just as unsettling as overindulgence.  If you overdo it one night then don’t try to redress the balance with a punishing exercise routine and fasting the next day.

Just get back into moderate exercise and healthy food and try to increase your awareness so the next time you’re out, you go a little easier on yourself.

6. Reflection
Take a moment to reflect on your achievements this year and think about what you would like the new year to bring for you.

If you’ve had a hard year then congratulate yourself for making it through!  Most importantly, reflect on everything that you are grateful for in your life.  If you're feeling stressed and finding it hard to feel gratitude to start with, then consider the slum children of India, for example. They don’t have clean water, good food, adequate shelter, security or education.  Australia overflows with good fortune, and any difficulties that we encounter in our lives can be put into context by comparing our luxurious standard of living with many of our fellow human beings.

By reflecting on everything that you are grateful for in your life, you can open your heart and experience a wonderful sense of wellbeing, as well as feeling naturally more compassionate towards those around you.

7. Tithing
Once you have realised the abundance of good fortune that we all enjoy, work out how much you can spare to share with others.  If you don’t have a lot of cash, can you donate your time or expertise? Can you give gifts of charity donation certificates instead of presents?  Can you choose gifts that were made by workers who are adequately compensated for their labour?  Good local sources of Fair Trade products are the Oxfam store at Warringah Mall, the organic co-ops in Whistler St, Manly and Arthur St, Forestville, or the Sunday Organic Markets at the Parkway Hotel in Frenchs Forest.

This post is brought to you by Lois Nethery, acupuncturist and Chinese medicine herbalist at Ocean Acupuncture in Curl Curl on Sydney's Northern Beaches.

Ocean Acupuncture is a natural medicine centre of independent health practitioners. The views expressed in this blog are the author's only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the other Ocean Acupuncture practitioners.
The information presented in this blog, and on the Ocean Acupuncture website, is for interest and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for health or medical information or advice. For health or medical advice, please consult your health professional.

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