Unwrap a healthier Christmas this year

Woman holding Christmas present

It is likely to be a Christmas like no other.  For many of us the mince pies and sherry might be the same but where we eat them, and with whom, is likely to be radically different from what we had planned just a few weeks, even days, ago.  Maintaining health and fitness over the Christmas period can be a struggle any year.  Doing so in the midst of pandemic, when our options for going out or seeing our loved ones are severely curtailed, is likely to be even more challenging.  So, at (med)24 we thought it was worth rounding up all the best advice out there on how to not just survive but celebrate what for many people remains the most important time of the year.

Use the tools at your disposal

If you haven’t already, make sure the whole family is comfortable using Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime or any other video technology.  This doesn’t just mean understanding how the tech works, but also working out what you can do with it.  Would a grandparent get more joy out of being sent a video of the grandchildren singing Jingle Bells or would they prefer to see it live?  Both have their benefits.  Think about what games work over video calls - charades, quizzes, bingo.  A lot of this can be homespun.  The Good Housekeeping Guide produced this list of games that work online.  For those that want to splash out Marie Claire produced this article about games you can buy and then use online.

Keep active

The combination of cold weather, short days and all those mince pies can make it ever more difficult to maintain a fitness routine.  Whatever it is you do, make sure you keep doing it.  You might want to adapt your routine over Christmas to accommodate things like family commitments but don’t give it up.  Taking exercise is not just about keeping fit.  It often involves getting out of the house, taking a break from the people around us or even seeing a few different faces.  Think about ways to incorporate fitness into Christmas, be it presents that may encourage people to take more exercise or encouraging a spouse, partner or family member to get on their bike and get some fresh air.  For people who like to challenge themselves, Coach Magazine completed a list of fitness challenges to consider tackling over the holidays.  

Look after your mental health

Christmas can be challenging.  Expectations are high, pressure is on, reality doesn’t always match up.  Find ways to take the pressure off.  We all want to have fun at Christmas, to embed memories that will last a lifetime and bind families together, but this doesn’t have to be done with more presents and bigger meals.  Simple pleasures, a walk, time spent one-on-one, a change in routine, can be just as memorable.  By resetting expectations, we can take enormous amounts of pressure off ourselves.  The Mental Health Foundation has produced a useful series of tips in this area.  Take a look and adopt those that work for you.  If they don’t, don’t worry.  For those experiencing more severe mental health problems, there is help out there.  The Centre for Mental Health has a list of numbers and resources here.

Food and drink

So much is written about food and drink in relation to Christmas it is hard to know which way to turn.  On the one hand we are told to treat ourselves ‘go on…it’s Christmas’, on the other the advice is to be abstinent.  Is there a way to do both?  Oddly enough, yes.  Rather than going for quantity, try quality.  Better quality produce almost always comes in smaller packages.  This goes for wine, whatever your price point for a bottle of wine may be, try spending it on a half-bottle rather than the full 750ml.  You are likely to enjoy the wine far more, both because it will be better quality and you should spend more time savouring it.  The same goes for chocolate, rather than buying slabs of Dairy Milk or buckets full of Quality Street, try swapping them for delicate packets of chocolate truffles.  Or use the opportunity to try something new: experimenting with food almost always means eating more slowly, more carefully, more enjoyably.  There is plenty of good advice out there on food and drink over Christmas.  The British Heart Foundation has this guide and the British Nutrition Foundation has a survival guide with plenty of tips on how to be healthy at Christmas.

However you do your Christmas, do it enjoy it.  From the team at (med)24 we wish you a very merry Christmas and look forward to catching up in the New Year.