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  • Writer's pictureRachel Ray

Christmas Chill or Christmas Frenzy?

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” . . . so says singer Andy Williams

And after the near cancellation of Christmas last year due to Coronavirus, like many people I am so excited to be having a houseful of family to celebrate Christmas this year. However, this brings its own challenges and the weight of expectation is growing. My head is full of ideas for how to make Christmas lovely for us all, find thoughtful presents, provide a delicious selection of food and the thing I struggle with the most . . . how to dress the table with colour and sparkle and all that stuff that the glossy magazines suggest you should do.

As I write this, I can feel my head spinning and the pressure rising and I’m very aware that my health and wellbeing might take a back seat. Do you feel the same too?

Here are some tips on how to make sure that your Christmas is less frenzy and more chill.

Plan Ahead

Don’t leave everything to the last minute. Grab a coffee, a pen and paper and make a list of things to consider under headings such as food, presents, cards, decorations.

Look at your list realistically and consider what is actually achievable with the time that you have available so that you can prioritise what to do and when, and also if it’s really needed.

I enjoy baking but a Christmas pudding is a step too far for me so I’m buying a luxury one from a good supermarket that I can heat in the microwave.

And the Christmas food shopping can be a bit overwhelming so try menu planning for a few of the festive days. Once you’ve made the food shopping list for this, buy the non- perishables now and store them, so you only have the fresh produce to buy just before Christmas.

And really importantly – ask for help. Delegate jobs to other family members and if you have guests for Christmas, suggest they bring certain foods or drinks.

Food and a Balanced Diet

Despite all my good intentions, Christmas does represent an opportunity for a bit of overindulgence. I buy treats not normally on my radar and I look forward to all the goodies that make Christmas, Christmas, to me.

Have some low-calorie options available and having a bowl of fruit to nibble on is a good idea as an alternative to chocolates and pastry goods.

Christmas is only a few days so is it necessary to start indulging from 1st December? Plan some lighter, healthier meals during December so you can really enjoy the festivities when they arrive.

On a side issue – tins of chocolates – which is your choice at Christmas? Mine has to be Quality Street in a metal tin. Every time I lift the lid, the smell reminds me of my childhood Christmases.

Alcohol in Moderation

“. . . ’tis the season to be jolly . . . .”

and nothing wrong with that, but drinking too much over the holiday season can leave you feeling irritable and low as well as stealing time from you whilst you recover from a hangover.

Plan some alcohol-free alternatives to pace your drinking. There are some great options available. My favourite is Ghost Ship Alcohol Free Ale which my beer loving husband also gives the thumbs up to, or I do like a cranberry spritzer made with cranberry and tonic water.

For advice on drinking within recommended guidelines visit and for tips on how to cut down on alcohol but still enjoy Christmas have a look at


Around 60% of the body is made up of water, blood is around 90% water and your brain around 75%. So, it’s clear to see that if you don’t keep well hydrated, you are not going to function as well and you could putting yourself at risk of becoming ill.

Water helps to boost energy, aids digestion and excretion, keeps the skin healthy and hydrated and helps you to think, focus, concentrate and be more alert.

The NHS recommends that we drink 6-8 glasses of water a day and the key is to start drinking in the morning and continue to do so regularly through the day. This doesn’t have to be just water and can include lower fat milk, lower sugar or sugar free drinks like cordial, tea and coffee. Don’t overdo the caffeine though, as it encourages trips to the loo which is counterintuitive when you’re trying to keep hydrated.

The best habit I’ve acquired is to place a pint of water next to my bed at night so that when I wake up, I drink the pint! A good start to my day.

It can be difficult to remember to drink regularly so you could set a timer on your phone or download an App that encourages you to drink more water. Having a water bottle that you take around with you is a useful way of having water to sip on constantly throughout the day.

Spread A Little Joy

According to Psychology Today, the act of giving to others may increase the level of dopamine which is a neurotransmitter in the brain involved with motivation and reward, to the extent that kind acts may result in a virtual ‘helpers high’.

As well as helping others, it can increase your feelings of happiness and self-worth, making us feel happy and helping with social connection.

There are many things you could do including;

1. donate to a food bank. Visit to find your local food bank to see what they need at this time of the year.

2. Swap a present for a donation to a local charity instead putting ‘charity donation’ on your Christmas list

3. Volunteer. Find out if there are local groups that need an extra pair of hands

4. Become a telephone befriender and make someone’s day with a good old chin wag

5. Do you have any neighbours who live alone without any family close by? Could you include them in your Christmas celebrations?

Self Care

“You can’t pour from an empty cup”. Never a truer word said but how many of us have knocked the cup over in the run up to Christmas and are running on empty?

  • Try to get outside for a walk for the exercise, fresh air and to appreciate the nature around you.

  • Take 10 deep breaths when you wake in the morning and at anytime during the day when you need to. Really focus on the breaths, especially the out breath, to lower your stress and anxiety.

  • Sleep is key to feeling refreshed and keeping you energised so try to maintain a good sleep routine (see my Blog Ten Top Tips For Sleeping Better)

  • Exercise is great to get the feel-good hormones flowing. But you don’t have to fit in a exercise class to your busy week. Dancing in the kitchen to some great tunes is a brilliant way to boost your mood. Listeners to Radio 2 will be familiar with Sophie Ellis- Bextor who did a weekly kitchen disco during lockdown and recently danced for 24 hours for Children in Need. Sophie produces a weekly kitchen disco mixtape which is available on BBC Sounds with plenty of feel-good songs to really get you moving!

  • Me-Time. It’s really easy to be swept up in Christmas preparations and celebrations, but it’s important to have some ‘Me-Time’ as well. What would you choose to do to switch off?

I may be biased but for me it has to be reflexology. An hour of Me-Time devoted just to you and clients often comment that it’s a relaxation unlike anything they’ve felt before.

Whatever you are planning for this Christmas, my warmest wishes to you and your family for good health and happiness and an enjoyable festive season.

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