The Christmas ‘to-do’ list is a mile long, presents are waiting to be wrapped and you’ve just found out a gluten-free vegan is coming for lunch.  All feelings of peace and joy have rapidly evaporated – what can you do to cope with festive stresses?

Let’s look at 5 top tips for coping with Christmas:

  1. Stress: This is a particularly tough time of year for anyone suffering with depression or bereavement.  The pressures of work and managing big family gatherings also ramp up the stress levels. Magnesium and B-vitamins are fantastic for soothing your nervous system; green leafy vegetables, cashew nuts, mushrooms and brown rice are all good sources.  Bathing in Epsom salts is a traditional remedy and a great way to absorb magnesium through your skin!  Add in a few drops of lavender oil too, then lie back and soak for a good 20 minutes.
  2. Overindulgence: indigestion can be incredibly painful – even mistaken for a heart attack in severe cases!  Chamomile and fennel teas are wonderfully soothing for sore or upset stomachs and can relieve painful trapped wind.  Milk thistle offers herbal support for liver function and easing hangovers – do check with your healthcare practitioner before taking any herbal remedies alongside prescription medications though.
  3. Special diets: you’re hosting a Christmas party and suddenly realise several guests are gluten and dairy free – what can they eat?  Panic not, healthfood stores like Tullivers in York and Goodness Direct online now offer a full range of festive treats designed to meet specific dietary needs including gluten-free gravy granules, oat cream, soya cream, rice flour for making pastry, dairy free chocolate advent calendars and gluten-free Christmas puddings.
  4. Colds and flu: ‘tis the season to be jolly unless you’re struck down with a virus!  Homemade chicken and vegetable soup is a fantastic immune booster.  Broccoli, peppers, kiwi fruit, mushrooms and sweet potatoes are all packed with antioxidant nutrients that help us fight off bugs.  Top up your vitamin D with an oral spray supplement and keep some manuka honey to hand for making honey and lemon drinks to soothe croaky throats and coughs.
  5. Headaches; stuffy atmospheres, stress, alcohol, sugary foods and dehydration can all trigger headaches.  Drink plenty of water throughout the day, pace yourself with sweet treats and make time for a relaxing Epsom salt bath to ease tense neck and shoulder muscles.
  6. One extra tip from personal experience….I once had bad flu over Christmas, it was rotten but made me realise that the world doesn’t end if you don’t send cards or presents or make it to parties. Friends and family still love you and thats all that matters!

Wishing you a Happy & Healthy Christmas 🙂


(This article is adapted from a column I wrote for York Press 1/12/2014)