Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Maintaining Your Health and Looking After Others This Christmas

Perhaps you’re facing the prospect of some time alone over Christmas. Or maybe you’re keeping an eye on an elderly relative, friend or neighbour. Here are five daily habits to keep yourself (or them) healthier and happier over the festive period:


1.       Get Outside Every Day

One of the simplest, but most powerful things we can all do to boost our physical and emotional health over Christmas is to spend time outside. If you’re active, bundle up and head for a walk, or spend time in the garden. If mobility is an issue, just get outside and spend some time in the fresh air and sunlight. As long as you make sure you’re adequately dressed, there’s no limit to how long you can stay outside if the weather is dry.


Christmas tree in the snow

What are the benefits of getting outside during the Christmas break? The extra activity will boost circulation, help prevent stiffness and soreness, and encourage your body to keep itself warm. The simple act of being outside in natural light does great things for your happy hormones (including serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins), boosting your mood, self-confidence and sense of connectedness.


2.       Drink Up

It’s pretty easy to get dehydrated over winter months. Cold weather means we tend to crave hot drinks (most of which are mild diuretics), and the change to our normal routine means drinking water can fall off the radar. But keeping hydrated with water, squash, herbal teas or fruit teas will really help you feel fitter and healthier. Good levels of hydration help you feel sharper, aid digestion, and can ease joint pain, inflammation and swelling. If you don’t want to drink plain cold water on chilly days, find a non-caffeinated tea you really enjoy.


3.       Eat Fresh

Eating fresh, natural foods is a wonderful health boost at any time of year, but it’s particularly beneficial over Christmas, when there are so many sweet, sugary, man-made temptations to be had. Try to ensure that you, or your elderly friends and relatives, eat at least one freshly-cooked meal a day, with at least three portions of fresh or frozen vegetables. Vegetables, particularly leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, are packed with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants which will do so much for your body, digestion and feeling of well-being.


4.       Stay Flexible

A few easy movements can keep you flexible and free from stiffness over Christmas. People of all ages are prone to sit around for longer than usual during the festive period, it’s not just a problem for the over 50s. Show them how it’s done by going through some simple stretches every day, or more frequently, if you want:


5.    Human Contact

Nothing beats human contact, particularly over Christmas when the media would have us believe everybody is surrounded by family and friends. If you know anyone who is likely to be alone over Christmas, make time to reach out to them. Pay them a visit, invite them over for a home-cooked meal, or see if they’d like to go out for a walk. The human contact will do you both a world of good.

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