Updated: Jan 25
Have you hit the traditional post-Christmas and New Year celebration seasonal slump yet? Read on for my Top 5 survival tips.
Tip 1 - Do something for yourSELF that you LOVE that you never make TIME for.
If like me you are someone that needs reminding sometimes that it is OK not to be busy or productive all of the time, and that it is OK to spend time doing something that YOU enjoy just for the sake of it not because it serves any useful purpose, then my first tip is for you.
Spend this time on yourself. What is it that YOU love to do? It doesn’t have to be as grand as a bucket list item. Think back to your childhood, what did you used to love doing. Did you like to dance, sing, lose yourself in a good book or listen to a favourite album. Maybe there is a film or TV series that is your own guilty pleasure. Do you love to paint, draw or colour in? I’ve had a go at calligraphy recently which has challenged me but been great fun to try. Last year it was glassmaking. What new thing would you love to learn more about? Perhaps washing your hair, soaking your feet, giving yourself a manicure or facial is more your thing. Try a new complementary therapy to aid your sleep and relaxation. Whatever it is. Give it a go. It is not self-indulgence, it is essential self-wellbeing maintenance.
Tip 2 - Avoid FAMILY fights with some old-fashioned FUN and LAUGHTER
Perhaps you are doing just fine, it is those around you that are driving you crazy. Sometimes it is the simple things that work the best. Turn the TV off, put all phones and gadgets to one side for a few hours and dig out the old board games or playing cards instead. Play some word games or read out some of the worst cracker jokes you can find.
Our favourite games this year that had us in stitches were both drawing games but with a twist.
Drawing on a paper plate (or any piece of paper) but it needs to be on something stiff enough to be able to draw on it while it is on top of your head. Take it in turns to describe a scene everyone else needs to draw. The best one wins a prize or gets to describe the next scene but everyone gets to see everyone else’s drawings.
The second game is similar except to pick an object your partner needs to draw. You can’t say what it is, and can only describe it using shape names and position on the paper. The person drawing it then needs to try and guess what it is. The results are usually hilarious. What new games can to try virtually with extended family or friends that you can't visit this year?
Tip 3 - Make TIME FOR you and your FRIENDS
Don’t let boredom, isolation or feelings of sadness after all the festivities get you down.
I consider myself very lucky to get on with my relatives but not everyone can. Old family feuds, brake ups and unresolved issues can all bubble back up to the surface when you meet up with people you would rather not be around but feel you have to.
Spend your time with the people that you love. If your friends are more of a family to you than your relatives then make time for yourself with them. Organise a virtual social get together, it doesn’t have to be flash or cost anything. Get them to think of new virtual games, quizzes that work online with you.
Make sure you give each other a huge hug too. Did you know that if you give or receive a prolonged hug you promote the release of a hormone called oxytocin, which can lower your blood pressure, slow your heart rate and improve your mood. If you hug for just 20 seconds a day it can lower your stress levels reducing the chances of future burn-out significantly. If you can't hug in person you can give yourself and relatives a virtual hug. Try crossing your arms over in front of you. Your opposite hand on each shoulder. Using a light touch, stroke down your arms from your shoulders down to your wrists. Therapeutic touch therapies such as Reflexology work in a very similar way. Fancy that!
Tip 4 - Make a MOVE OUTSIDE for a WALK to BE in NATURE
We can all fall foul of becoming couch potatoes over the festive season. It really is worth making the effort to move to make yourself feel better. You don’t have to join a gym unless you want to, but just by getting outside in the fresh air for a walk will make a big difference. If you can be outside in Nature too even better.
Tip 5 - EAT well to NOURISH YOURSELF and try and indoor picnic
Try to make at least one nutritious meal a day to help balance out all those other empty calories you may be indulging in, it will make the world of difference.
Include mood improving foods such as vitamin B that can be found in foods like marmite, wholegrain foods, nuts and seeds and Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish and linseeds. Both support the process that triggers the production of the happy hormone serotonin in the brain.
Don’t waste all those vitamin rich Christmas left overs. I have included my recipe for Roasted Vegetable soup at the end of this blog!
Have a think about how the food is served as well as what is served. If you want to try and get more vegetables into your children and yourself, change your view about what you are serving. Think of eating raw vegetables and salad as a luxury. You are not depriving yourself of anything. It is the exact opposite. When presented with a picnic hamper full of salads and pickles with cold meats, raw vegetables and dips you would be thrilled to eat it all in the Summer. So why should winter be any different?
Create that same Summer vibe by setting up a picnic mat on the floor indoors. Do you have a SAD light, daylight bulbs or reading light? Set this up to shine down on your picnic mat like a hot summer’s day. Float some berries in a sparkling drink to go with all your goodies.
Christmas Leftover Recipe
For the soup
· Left over roast vegetables e.g. Onions, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potato and parsnips (use your own favourite root vegetables)
· Onions, shallots, spring onions or leeks
· Greens and peas (optional)
· Garlic (optional)
· Vegetable or Meat stock (left over gravy works too)
· Salt and pepper to taste
· Olive Oil
· Garlic clove
· Dry French stick is ideal but fresh bread is fine too.
· Chopped Thyme and Rosemary
· Salt and Pepper
· Cream (optional)
How to make the soup
· Add onions, shallots, spring onions or leeks into a pan, shallow fry with a drop of oil of your choice until soft, translucent and browned
· Add all your root vegetable ingredients to the onion pan with the stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes until thoroughly warmed through.
· Remove from the heat and blend 2 thirds of the mixture in a food processor/blender.
· Add the blended mix back into the pan together with any greens or peas you wish to add.
· Serve with a swirl of cream, olive oil and/or croutons
For the croutons
· If you are using fresh bread, toast it first.
· Cut your garlic clove in 2 and rub it on your dry or toasted bread with your garlic clove.
· Brush with olive oil.
· Cut your dry or toasted bread into small cubes.
· Preheat your pan and once hot add in your cubes and chopped herbs to the pan.
· Add salt and pepper to taste.
· Fry until lightly golden brown.
Shelley Mason MAR