As the country goes (brazil) nuts for Christmas and New Year, we all know how easy it is to get overwhelmed and somehow find yourself low on festive cheer.
To help keep things sweet, here's some expert advice from Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation's (the 'official' bit of this posts' title) on how to make the most of these coming weeks, and start 2011 on a happier footing...
By all means, have a drink and join in all the schmoosy socialising. It's fun! Just keep an eye on how much you're putting back. "Although the consumption of alcohol might make you feel more relaxed, it's important to remember that it's a depressant and drinking excessive amounts can cause a low mood and irritability" says Dr Andrew. And no-one wants to be bah humbug, do they?
2. Bond with your Brussel sprouts
Christmas and overindulgence tend to go together like a snowman's face and a carrot. While it's tempting at the time, it can often prompt pressure to lose weight in the new year. So, make a point of keeping up a balance of fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates, protein and omega 3 sources like fish. It'll help keep both your energy levels and mood up.
3. Flex your snowman-building muscles
Tempting as it is to live on the sofa all week, get up and go(rgeous)! Having a snowball fight, joining in Christmas games, or an old-fashioned walk around the park can all reduce anxiety and depression. Regular exercise also helps boost our immune systems, all the better to fight off anti-social colds and flu viruses.
4. Show your face
"With our Lonely Society? report from earlier in the year indicating that a third of us have a close friend or family member we think is lonely, a Christmas or new year's resolution to see our friends and family more often can help boost both our own mental wellbeing and theirs" says Dr Andrew.
If you're apart from your family, then volunteering for a charity or local community organisation can provide that same human contact as well as help provide essential support for others in need. And why stop a good thing just because Christmas is over?
5. Sleep sound
Despite many of us having time off work during Christmas and the New Year, our sleep patterns can be disturbed between travelling around and partying late. "There is mounting evidence on the link between sleep and mental wellbeing, meaning improvements in the quality of your sleep could result in improvements to your overall mental health" says Dr Andrew.
His advice? Get back in to your regular sleep routine as soon as possible after the party period. Sounds sweet (dreams) to us.
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