Everyone wants to sparkle – right through the festive season – but it can be a tall order. It’s not just the stress of organising Christmas itself; it’s having to cope with a year’s worth of parties and celebrations all crammed into a few weeks. No wonder so many of us flag. No wonder Christmas is considered the most stressful time of the year. However it needn’t be that way. Follow these simple tips to help you sparkle and shine as brightly as the Christmas star.
1. Stop for a moment and get perspective. How come a festival celebrating the birth of Christ has ended up becoming the most stressful period of the year? What do you really want? Do you really love the big production or would you rather plump for silent night? What makes your heart sink? Figure out simple changes that would make Christmas work better for you. If it’s something you can’t change, then at least admit the problem. Then you won’t feel quite so resentful.
2. Where exactly is it written that one person shalt do everything? Get delegating – right now. No-one can sparkle when they’re shattered so share the tasks out. Even small children can help – making decorations, stirring the pud, adorning the tree, laying the table.
3. Don’t let your Christmas be ruined with sniffs and snuffles so boost your immune system and stop bugs in their tracks. Pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends Astragalus Extract: ‘Clinical studies have shown that this very safe herb reduces the incidence and duration of the common cold as well as protecting the body against numerous other viruses,’ he says. Dose your children with Astragalus Tincture for Kids by Eclectic – safe for children over one year of age.
4. If you do succumb to the lurgy, grab some elderberries. Try Sambucol Immuno Forte. ‘It can reduce the duration of influenza symptoms from an average of six days to 48 hours,’ says Shabir. Elderberries are fascinating – they appear to work by knocking off the spikes that a virus uses to attach itself to healthy cells. Sambucol is also safe for children (they just take a lower dose). As an added bonus, it tastes gorgeous.
5. Embrace mindfulness. It’s meditation made easy. Whatever you’re doing – whether it’s peeling potatoes or putting up the decorations, become aware of what you’re doing, how you’re feeling, where you are. Every so often stop and just take a few minutes to focus on your breathe. You don’t have to change your breathing – just be aware of it.
6. Drop the idea of perfection – it’s unrealistic and it’s bad for your health. Perfectionists have a 75 percent higher incidence of illness than their more laid-back friends so relax and accept that 90 percent might be good enough.
7. Bring a soft sparkle to your home with candles. Put tealights in little jam-jars – placed on a pretty mirror to reflect even more light. If you’re feeling artistic you can decorate them with stained glass paint (available from craft shops) – or simply stick on sequins for extra sparkle. Avoid synthetically scented candles – instead try Neom’s gorgeous candles including the festive Christmas Wish (www.neoorganics.com). Or pop some cinnamon essential oil on pine cones and settle them on your radiators to release that Christmassy scent.
8. Have fun and make your own decorations this year. Huge swags of home-made paperchains are fun to make (children love them) and give your home a really individual look. Choose startling colour combos (fuschia pink, leaf green and sultry black?) or go for glittery sparkly silvers and golds. Check out your local craft shop. Thrifty souls will, of course, use last year’s saved paper and are fully entitled to look smug.
9. You don’t need a whole new wardrobe for the party season to look a million dollars. Stick to classic black and vamp it up with wild jewellery, sparkly scarves and wow-factor nail polish. Ring the changes for each party and you’re sorted.
10. Fitness tends to go out the window come December. Okay, so you might not make it to the gym but do make time to pull on a fleece and go for a swift walk. Research shows that a daily 15 minute walk is as effective as tranquilizers for reducing anxiety and keeping festive spirits high. If you’re partying, haul yourself off the sofa and into the dance-floor – dancing is a proven mood-booster.
11. Instead of coffee which increases cortisol levels and jangles the adrenal glands, sip one of Pukka Herbs gorgeous herbal or spicy teas. Peppermint and liquorice is refreshing while cinnamon and cardamom is revitalising and smells divine. Available from good health stores.
12. Add artichokes to your plate. Brussels sprouts are all well and good but research shows that the humble artichoke is stuffed full of incredible phytonutrients. Not only does it help lower cholesterol (good at any time) but in the run-up to Christmas its liver protecting and digestion-easing properties are a real boon
13. Sprinkle a bit of fairy dust. A little glitter and sparkle makes us perceive our world as brighter and lighter. So wave a magic wand over your face, hair and body – it’s bound to boost your mood. Check out Naturismo (www.naturismo.com) for party make-up shimmers.
14. Act like a TV host. We’re not all natural socialites. It’s worth remembering that you won’t be the only one who’s nervous so fake it to make it. Walk up to someone standing alone and introduce yourself. Then pretend you’re a TV host or hostess. Ask the person what they do; what they like or dislike about Christmas; what their favourite film/song/book is. Asking questions puts you in control – and might save another shy person from party hell.
15. Seek out the spiritual. It’s all about the birth of a boy in a barn – remember? Take time to go to church. Light a candle. Spend some time in prayer or quiet meditation.
16. A glass (or bottle) too many of festive cheer can swiftly deplete levels of stress-reducing, energy-boosting, mood-elevating B vitamins. Match every alcoholic drink with a tall glass of water. And protect yourself from hangovers with a daily dose of B complex – Solgar’s Megasorb B Complex is a good choice. Add some L.Glutathione too – this vital amino acid is responsible for over 50 percent of the removal of toxins from the liver.
17. Give a little. Pop some spare change in the collecting box. Go carol singing for charity. Volunteer to help at your local hospital or homeless shelter. If you’re a natural born Scrooge, remember that helping others actually makes you feel pretty good too. It’s a win-win scenario.
18. Play a game. Laughing is the best therapy, raising endorphin levels and boosting your mood. Keep it light-hearted: charades rather than killer chess. My favourite is Articulate – a fast-talking team game that challenges your general knowledge and has my family creased up with laughter.
19. Get Kneipping. It’s the uber-wonderful hydrotherapy used in Alpine spas to treat stress and insomnia, tiredness and general aches and pains. Now you can turn your own bathroom into a healing temple with a whole range of Kneipp products. I particularly love Kneipp Deep Sleep.
20. As the clock chimes midnight lie under the Christmas tree and gaze at the lights. For each light, say a word of thanks for a blessing in your life – whether big things or teeny tiny things. They all add up to one heck of a lot of blessings. Have a wonderful Christmas.
Supplements and Kneipp products available mail order from www.victoriahealth.com