12 Don't let stress ruin your festive fun

Don't let stress ruin your festive fun

Nutritional Practitioner, BA (Hons), DN, DNT (Distinction)
Ask Ali

15 November 2018


It may sound obvious, but don’t get overtired. Consult the information below on poor sleep and do some serious scheduling to get your sleep to the top of the priority list. We all know children are awful when they are tired, but it’s not much fun being a tired adult either.

If you need a little extra power, take Eleutherococcus (Siberian Ginseng) – but be aware that it mixes very badly with caffeine, so take it instead of coffee, not with it!

The perils of poor sleep

Not getting sufficient sleep is a torment, and has many horrible side effects, from looking worse (just in time for that big party) to feeling your brain disintegrate.

Bag a Bedtime to Bolster your Brain

  • Decide firmly that you will be in bed and preferably asleep by 11pm every night for a fortnight, and see how much better you look and feel. Your memory will improve and you’ll feel more in control and even-tempered.

Chuck out the Caffeine

  • Choose non-caffeinated drinks such as soothing lemon verbena, lemon balm, ginger and cardamom, and berry juice concentrates to have, hot and comforting!

Eat Early

  • Eating a heavy meal late at night is one of the best ways to disrupt your sleep. Keep dinner to the early hours and just have a nibble at night if you really feel the need for nourishment.

Herbs can Help

  • Try a mixture of Valerian and Hops to get you nodding peacefully at the prescribed hour. These herbs also help you sleep more soundly, passing through all the five stages of sleep to ensure you process the day’s happenings and wake feeling refreshed.

The lying-in lie

Sleeping late doesn’t make up for hitting the hay in the early hours of the morning. You’ll be dehydrated and your blood sugar will be all over the place, so you’ll get up eventually with lower backache (miserable kidneys) and strange cravings (blood sugar playing catch-up).

If you’re sleeping in, get up and have some warm water at your usual wake-up time, before heading back for a snooze. Then get a fruit smoothie into yourself the minute you get up again, to power up your digestive system without too much effort.

Jump about!

Yes, your eyelids are permanently drooping, but even a 10-minute walk or 5 minutes of skipping or 2 minutes of stomach crunches will make you feel better. The endorphin kick is great, and for free. It’s best if you get outside for that precious 10 minutes, as daylight keeps winter sadness at bay and stimulates your endocrine system.   

If your circulatory system is sluggish and you feel the cold easily, keep up the vitamin C intake and try Ginkgo biloba to stimulate the blood flow. Ginkgo is also good for brain function, which never comes amiss when you’re in organisational overdrive.

Just say no

Here’s a concept, especially for busy women. Decline to take on any more projects – the school play will have to run without you. Turn down unwanted invitations boldly: that’s valuable sleeping time you would be wasting. Refuse extra responsibility: now is not the time to take on running the allotment group, however much a secretary is needed.

Each thing may seem small on its own, but you’ll have heard of the straw that broke the camel’s back? Offload as many straws as you can and see how much better you feel. Take Confidence Essence to help you say no if it’s not a word currently in your vocabulary.

Sometimes say yes

Sorry to seem confusing, but there is one thing you should certainly say yes to: help! Yes, let the children hang up cards even if they won’t do them neatly. Yes, let partners take on chores if they should offer, even if they won’t be done perfectly. It’s all giving you smidgeons of time to breathe in and out.

Extra assistance

Water. You’ll have heard this before, but people tend to forget it during the colder months and especially when there are bucket loads of alcoholic beverages around. Get your 1.5 litres of still, plain water into you to help keep your energy levels up and your kidneys happy.

It’s good for your skin too, so literally suck it up! Have it warm if you prefer it that way. Drink it through a straw if you really don’t like it – for some reason this makes it easier.

Flower Essences. If you haven’t tried them before, now is a good time to experiment. Vitality Essence is a great place to start, either before or after a big night out, or both!

Get gutsy

Stress also impedes your digestive process, so counter the mayhem by remembering to chew your food well. This may sound simplistic but it works wonders and costs you nothing except a little mental effort and jaw action.

Don’t droop over your buffets but sit up and let your stomach do its stuff. Try not to have too much wheat if you bloat easily, and don’t drink pints of anything, even water, with your meals, because that contributes to indigestion.

Add slices of lemon to your hot water when you do drink it (away from meals), to support your liver as it fights its way through the aftermath of feasts of fatty foods. Other remedies to stimulate good digestion and improved fat metabolism are artichoke and dandelion. Take them as tinctures before meals to get additional power to your innards, or take them afterwards if you feel the oncoming twinges of indigestion.

You can use herbs for reducing stress too. Start with Avena sativa for gentle support – great for giving to the children if they are getting over excited or can’t sleep. Passiflora is slightly stronger but still gentle enough to take without getting sleepy or having to worry about contraindications with medication. Valerian is faster acting and can be taken in small doses for relaxation and larger doses for sleep. Take it in juice rather than water, as it has a singular taste that not everyone appreciates!


Hyperiforce (St John's Wort) is a useful prop if you aren’t looking forward to family get-togethers. It takes a week or two to get going, so plan ahead if you want to benefit from it. It is contraindicated with many medications, so always check.

Nutrients for nerves

Magnesium is found in alfalfa, almonds, apples, avocados, bananas, buckwheat, brazils, brown rice, cashews, celery, dates, figs, fish, dried apricots, chickpeas, millet, oats, brown rice, spinach, dark green vegetables, parsley, sesame seeds, soya, haricot and kidney beans.

B vitamins are plentiful in oatmeal, salmon, mackerel, walnuts, soya beans, lentils, butter beans, haricot beans, bananas, avocados, buckwheat, raisins, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, and pecan nuts.



Stay strong

When you’re stressed, your immune function is lowered, and if you get ill then it’s just another source of trauma and fatigue. Avoid the danger by dosing up on Echinacea on a daily basis if you know you’re going to be under pressure.

If you’re travelling during the holidays, take extra doses whilst exposed to large crowds or in close proximity to strangers with coughs and colds – Echinacea has been shown to reduce the risk of infection on planes, for example, so it’s worth having to hand.


Originally written on 10/12/2012, updated on 15/11/2018.


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