The Instagram logo

Seasonal survival tips

Christmas isn’t necessarily fun for everyone. If the festive season is more stressful than enjoyable for you, take note of these expert tips to keep you physically and mentally healthy throughout the holidays.

Stock up on healthy food

“Add in the good stuff,” says Anna Mapson, registered nutritional therapist and owner of Goodness Me Nutrition ( “Don’t worry too much about avoiding any foods, but instead try to keep up your vegetable intake each day. How about soup for lunch, or a veg smoothie with breakfast to boost your intake of fruits and vegetables? At a party, if there is a buffet ensure you include at least a few veggies on your plate. A few carrot sticks, or slices of pepper and celery with hummus, a few spoons of coleslaw, and any fresh fruit is a great addition to your plate. These will help to feed the gut microbes which support a healthy digestion.”

Look after your liver

If you are planning to enjoy a few festive tipples, then you might want to invest in some supplements that will help to care for your liver. “B vitamins are depleted when we drink alcohol, so it's important to top those up, which can be easily done with a multivitamin or B complex,” says Daisy Connor, a nutritional therapist at City Survivor supplements (

Another supplement worth investigating is N-Acetyl-Cysteine. Daisy says: “Cysteine is an amino acid which helps make the liver’s premier antioxidant, glutathione. NAC is the best form to take as a supplement, as it's more stable and better used in the body than L-cysteine. With food, we can get cysteine from eggs which is why eggs are a great breakfast after drinking alcohol! And by combining eggs with leafy green vegetables, we get a good variety of B vitamins too.”

Support your gut

Anna Mapson recommends adding fibre to your diet to look after your gut health. “Increasing the bulk in our stools helps to keep bowel movements regular,” she says. “Think of eating more oats, vegetables, wholegrains and pulses. Fruit can also help, especially apples and pears. Also dried fruits are known to have a laxative effect.” If bloating is a problem, Anna recommends “chewing your food properly and not talking with your mouth full” as this can prevent you from swallowing too much air. Most of all though, enjoy what you eat! “Concentrate on all the flavours and relax about food,” says Anna. “When we’re stressed our gut microbes can’t relax and do their work either, so it’s good to be calm when you eat.”

Manage your expectations

“The Christmas period is often filled with expectation,” says Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co- founder of the Chelsea Psychology Clinic ( “There can be a lot of pressure to have the ‘perfect’ holiday period and to broadcast it to friends and family. If our Christmas isn’t like this – and let’s face it, often it isn’t – it can leave us feeling like we’ve failed in some way. Remind yourself that you’re not alone – Christmas can be triggering for a lot of people. In fact, studies have found that depression rates are highest around Christmas time. Social media might seem to tell a different story but remind yourself that people only tend to share the ‘picture perfect’ moments - you never know what’s going on behind the scenes. If you’re struggling, know that you’re not alone. Be kind to yourself and remove any expectations of what Christmas ‘should’ be like.”

Make sure you get some fresh air

“Winter months can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in those vulnerable to the condition,” says Dr Natasha Bijlani, Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Roehampton ( “Shorter daylight hours combined with lack of sunshine can impact negatively on your mood. Many people find themselves staying in the house over the Christmas period; however, try and get out at least once a day, even if it is just for a short walk.”

Plan ahead

“One of the reasons that we might feel stressed or overwhelmed during the holidays is because we start doing everything at once,” says Niels Eék, psychologist and co-founder of mental wellness platform Remente ( “If you know that you are prone to feeling overwhelmed during the holidays, make sure to plan for this in advance. Allocate days on which you will do Christmas shopping (dedicating a set budget for this can also reduce stress), set aside time for cooking, or booking tickets for any necessary travel. For most people, the festive season is an incredibly busy time – work parties, family commitments, shopping for presents, and preparing for the celebrations, all of which can make us feel overstretched. Because we might feel bad for saying no to things, we might lose out on essential things like sleep, which can cause us to feel sad, grumpy and frustrated. Before the holiday season begins, try to have a list of priorities and events you have to go to, saying no to those that aren’t on the list.”

Try a breathing technique

If festive stress is getting a bit too much, try this breathing technique suggested by hypnotherapist Chloe Brotheridge, who is working with emotional wellbeing brand RESCUE®, ( “Dr Andrew Huberman from Stanford University created the ‘physiological sigh’,” explains Chloe.

“It can be done discreetly, and the resulting calmness happens right away. To do this, take a deep breath in through your nose followed by another smaller, quicker breath through the nose. After both in-breaths, exhale slowly out through the mouth. Do this one to three times to calm your nervous system quickly.”

Practise moderation

“Over the Christmas period it can be tempting to over- indulge in both food and drink and this can be a way of coping with difficult feelings,” says Dr Natasha Bijlani. “Drinking excessively over Christmas will impact on mood and anxiety. Eating too much can also introduce feelings of guilt and low self-esteem. Try to do some exercise which involves getting outside – running, walking - as this can help to improve your health and wellbeing.”

Read articles from our latest issue here...