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The festive season is upon us and in the run up to Christmas, there’s a lot of excitement on the way. From Christmas parties to braving the shops, as well as eating a mince pie or two – there’s a lot going on. With all of the fun that the season brings, it’s important that you don’t neglect your health. Christmas is a time for enjoyment and relaxation, but it can also be a time of excess and indulgence. Take a look at some tips on how to boost your Christmas health and get ready for the festive season.

Keep an eye on the scales

Is there anything worse than the horror of weighing in on the 1st of January after a couple of weeks of over indulgence? Regular weigh-ins throughout the festive period can prove useful to help prevent weight gain over Christmas, and could be what you need to stop yourself from going overboard.

Maintain regular eating times

Time can go out the window during Christmas, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stick to a regular eating pattern. Eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at set times can stop you over eating and ensures you’re hungry at the right time, instead of just eating continuously throughout the day.

Make healthy substitutes

A lot of typical festive foods are high in calories, sugar and salt. Food substitutes such as spreads, low-fat milk and reduced sugar and salt products are great for preparing dishes and can help you avoid the extra calories.

Go for a walk each day

During Christmas, it can be tempting to stay in all day on the sofa relaxing, but being completely inactive can soon lead you to piling on the pounds. Boost your Christmas health by going for a walk each day. Aim for around 10,000 steps every day to help you meet your daily recommended activity.

Stand up and walk around

Just as you’d get up from your desk and have a brief walk around the office, you should also aim to get up and walk around regularly over the Christmas period too. Too much lounging around on the sofa can lead to you feeling sluggish and lethargic. Little things to get you up and about can make a big difference to your Christmas health, such as offering to do the dishes, stacking the dishwasher, taking the dog out or making the trip outside to the deep freeze!

Exercise portion control

It’s tempting to load your plate up with different foods to the point where you feel full, but you’ll only regret it in a few weeks’ time. Be wary of portion sizes, particularly how much carbohydrates and fats you have on your plate, and load up on vegetables instead.

Eat your 5-a-day

Between all of the chocolate and party food, healthy eating can fall by the wayside at Christmas. It’s important to maintain as healthy a diet as possible, and getting your five-a-day can help you make sure you get the vitamins and nutrients necessary to ward of colds and other viruses during the winter so that you can enjoy the holidays without getting ill. It’s tempting to reach for the chocolate orange each time, but try to reach for the satsumas on the odd occasion too.

Maintain good hygiene to keep colds at bay

Christmas also signals a prime time for colds and flu. Many of us become more susceptible to viruses as many of us are tired and run down after all the preparations and surrounded by more people. Do what you can to protect yourself from colds and flu by keeping all of your surfaces clean with antibacterial products, washing your hands regularly and using antibacterial gels where you can. Practice the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach to dealing with a cold to help you stop the spread of germs.

Stay hydrated

While the temperatures might be colder during the festive period, staying hydrated can help boost your Christmas health. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and aim for at least two litres. If you’re going to drink alcohol, try to alternate with water to help keep you hydrated and keep hangovers at bay.

Cut back on your alcohol consumption

Christmas is a time to socialise, but drinking too much can have poor effects on your health. It can also lead to serious consequences if you drink and drive, so it’s better to avoid alcohol altogether if you’re driving. Alcohol is also full of calories, so even if you’re maintaining healthy eating throughout the holidays, alcohol could still be contributing to your expanding waistline.

Maintain a regular sleeping pattern for better Christmas health

Time off work provides a time to relax, but sleeping too much or too little isn’t great for your health. Aim to get around 8 hours a night and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This will help you maintain a regular routine and make it easier to go back to work after a break. While the occasional late night is inevitable, try not to make up for it by staying in bed all day the following day.

Set a budget

It’s not just your physical and mental health that need taking care of over Christmas – your financial health is also important. Set a budget for your Christmas spending to help you cover the cost of gifts, socialising and more. Having a budget will make it easier for you to manage your finances and avoids many of the stresses caused by financial problems at Christmas.

Avoid spending on credit cards

Paying for all your Christmas shopping on credit cards can mean that you’re still paying it back well into the new year. Try to avoid credit if you can so that you avoid paying interest. Instead, agree a sensible limit you can stick to with friends and family for gifts and use clever alternatives such as online shopping methods to help you save money.

Get out and about

Christmas can be a terrible time for people with mental illness. It’s important to take care of your mental health at Christmas by getting out and about, talking to people about your feelings and not shutting yourself off. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re struggling to cope – Christmas is a time for sharing and helping others after all.

As well as making sure you look after your health this Christmas, make sure your life and critical illness insurance is in place. ESMI can get your policy started in no time to give you one less thing to worry about over the festive period. Whatever your plans for the holidays, remember to make this Christmas a healthy one.