It is now officially the countdown to Christmas, and while some of us will be starting to feel excited about the big day, others may just be feeling panic. With Christmas shopping, visiting friends and family, finishing school and work for the year, all of the preparation that needs to be done in the run up to Christmas Day can become overwhelming.
Here we round up the latest research and expert advice from registered dietitians Kathleen Farrell and Jane Reagan, both from Wardenburg Health Services at the University of Colorado at Boulder, to help you stay healthy, calm and focused for a happy rather than hectic holiday season.
When we’re getting ready for stressful and busy times, having a good plan for overall health and wellness can help prevent crashing and burning.
Farrell and Reagan’s tips include planning meals and snacks so that you don’t go longer than four hours without eating, helping to avoid blood sugar highs and lows that can make it harder to focus.
They also advise incorporating consistent healthy habits into all your routines, such as stretching for a few minutes before bed, drinking a full glass of water with every meal, and getting up and walking around for a few minutes for every hour you’ve sat working.
Get enough sleep
As the to-do list gets longer, our sleep usually gets shorter, but a sufficient amount of sleep each night (7 to 9 hours) is important to help you retain and recall information, and stay focused, alert and healthy.
Farrell and Reagan advise trying to keep a consistent sleep schedule each night, even on weekends, to get your body into a routine. If getting to bed and waking up at the same time feels difficult, aim to keep it all within one-hour windows of when you want to get to bed or wake up. While it may take a few nights for your body to settle into the pattern, you’ll start feeling more rested and able to focus once you make it a habit.
To help you stay energized and focused, fuel your body with complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, bread and oatmeal, which help to regulate your blood sugar and optimize your energy throughout the day.
You also need an adequate amount of proteins and fats, which help keep you going throughout the day as they take longer to digest than carbs. Try including “good” fats from nuts, seeds and avocados and aim for 20 to 25 grams of protein at every meal for optimal brain function.
When you’re on the go, it can be easy to forget to drink enough water; however as our bodies are made up of 70 percent water, staying hydrated is important. Water is essential for protecting your joints, maintaining organ function, transporting oxygen to cells and sustaining body temperature, so if you are dehydrated, it can have a big effect on your energy and ability to focus.
An easy rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day; for example, for a 150-pound person, this means drinking 75 ounces of water.
Read your to-do list out loud
A new study from the University of Waterloo, Canada, has found that reading aloud can help you remember what you have read.
Dubbed “the production effect”, the act of both speaking and hearing yourself helps puts words into our long-term memory, and is more effective than reading silently or hearing someone else read. So if you’re getting overwhelmed by your Christmas shopping list and all the preparations for the big day, try reading your to-do list aloud to yourself to make sure you don’t forget anything. JB