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Relax into winter!

It is difficult to believe that the run-up to Christmas is already here. I hope most of you are not getting too stressed out with shops pushing the seasonal cheer!
Stress & winter

At this time of year it is very easy to over-commit at work in the haste to get projects completed before the end of the year and socially the party season is already in full swing – all of which can contribute to feeling weary and tired. Although it is a pressurized time, try to lower your stress by pacing yourself and creating some ‘me’ time. One of the best ways I’ve found to do this is by slowing down my schedule and really just trying to prioritize that which is essential, even just for a couple of days a week.

Getting a decent and full night’s sleep is a great way to nourish and restore your whole system. We Brits have a poor sleep record with high levels of us suffering with insomnia, which has been linked to high anxiety, stress and depression. There are even links to the over use of stimulants such as alcohol, coffee and nicotine. If you suffer with disturbed sleep or find it difficult to nod off, try drinking a cup of strong herbal tea – chamomile or valerian – to help sooth and calm your nervous system. Here are a couple more tips:
1. Make sure your bedroom is not too hot before you sleep – excess of heat will make you thirsty as well as wake you up.
2. Switch off electrical equipment in the bedroom, such as TV’s, mobile ‘phones, laptops. These emit light, sound and radiation all of which can affect the quality of your sleep.
3. Give yourself a wind-down time of at least an hour before you want to sleep; avoid rushing in from work or events and expecting your body to fall in to peaceful slumber immediately.

Vitamin D – cod liver oil
Given the poor levels of light we have suffered this year, yet again, it is a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement over the course of the winter and beyond, if things don’t improve weather-wise! You can absorb some vitamin D from your diet, found in oily fish, milk, cereal, eggs, some cheeses, liver and beef. However the best source by far is cod liver oil that has not had the vitamin D4 removed (so always check the label).

Strength Training
Workout sessions solely built on aerobic-training are still a big temptation for women in the gym to stay in shape but they should work-out using weights, resistance bands or simply performing body weight exercises to really sculpt the body. We tend to forget that it is our muscles that hold our bones together and actually shape our bodies.

Also, the more active your muscle tissue, the more it helps to keep your metabolism high; this means you will use more calories even when you are resting. If you are not confident or proficient in using free weights then this is a good time to look into circuit classes or working out with a personal trainer to motivate you at times when you are feeling sluggish and stressed from work.
If you’re a cardio addict, make time to perform 1 or 2 sessions per week of strength training during the winter to keep your body in shape.

Bye for now – here’s to a smooth run up to Christmas, see you next month!