Don’t let stress get in the way of your Christmas fun

Posted on: 20 December 2017 by Eloise Craven-Todd

Christmas and New Year can be a highly stressful period, keep stress levels low with these top tips.

Alison Cullen, a nutrition therapist for A.Vogel and health educator, offers her top tips for keeping the stress levels low this Christmas.   

Up the nutrients


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

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.

Stay Strong

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.

Get gutsy

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.

Try a herbal remedy 

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.  

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