Keep a cool head post-Christmas with our simple stress-busting steps

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Trying to meet everybody’s expectations and satisfy your own high standards to create a ‘perfect’ Christmas may have resulted in a seasonal meltdown.

But taking a few simple steps, from easing stress and tight muscles, to fighting off seasonal infections and sleeping better, could help you to not only cope better but also truly enjoy the festive celebrations.

Follow the 10-step guide to festive health and wellbeing.

Mindful breathing

This is one of the most successful tools for switching off tension as it naturally calms our body.

Find somewhere quiet to sit for a few minutes. Get comfortable, shut your eyes and focus on your breathing, which should be slow and regular.

Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, focussing on the sensation as the air enters and leaves the nostrils.

As distractions occur, refocus on your breathing. Stay like this for up to 10 minutes.

Tight neck muscles

Tensing our shoulder and neck muscles as we work on a keyboard, drive or rush around in the cold weather is common but can make us tired and inhibit circulation, says Nikki Page, author of The Little Book Of Wellbeing (Cico Books, £8.99).

Carry out your own therapy, she suggests. Gently massage your own shoulders using your three forefingers on either side of your neck. Use your right hand on the left shoulder and vice versa.

Next, stand with your feet slightly apart and drop your body gently down from the waist, allowing your hands to fall freely in front of you until your palms are on the floor, or you’re stretched as far as is comfortable.

Then gently unfold your body, almost feeling each disc in your spine as you stand straight again. Put your arms behind your back and link your fingers together: now hunch your shoulders forward and back to release the tension in the muscles.

Finally, keeping your fingers linked, straighten your arms and raise them away from your body. Then let your arms fall by your sides and relax.

Power off

Turning off mobiles or tablets a few hours before going to bed could be one way of ensuring you get a good night’s sleep - essential if you’re going to maintain sufficient energy levels.

Researchers at the Lighting Research Centre, New York, discovered that two or more hours of exposure to backlit devices, such as a smartphone or a tablet, suppresses melatonin.

“Our study shows that a two-hour exposure to light from self-luminous electronic displays can suppress melatonin by about 22%,” says programme director Mariana Figueiro.

Returning to an old-fashioned alarm clock and having the self-control to ignore those mobile devices overnight or leaving them in another room could help your body and mind relax faster and easier at night.

Keep-fit memories

Sticking to a fitness routine is hard when the cold bites outside, but wrapping up warm and playing music which makes you feel nostalgic could beat the chills and keep you motivated, according to a study by researchers at the University of Southampton.

Nostalgic music increased the perception of physical warmth, and also increased tolerance to painful cold, the research found, so heading down memory lane could give you a warm glow as well as keeping you on track and healthy.

Handy first aid

Don’t let accidents or mishaps ruin the Christmas period.

Have the First Aid Manual (Dorling Kindersley, £13.99) and a good first aid kit handy in the house.

Boots Pharmaceuticals St John Ambulance Complete First Aid Kit is £19.99, and a travel version, which could be useful for the car, costs £11.99. For more information, visit

Super soup

Take action at the first sign of cold symptoms - a scratchy throat and a runny nose - and make a soup to cleanse your system, advises health and yoga writer Nikki Page.

Use organic vegetables including onions, parsnips, leeks, carrots, lots of garlic and lentils, and cook on a low heat in a covered pan to seal in the goodness, she says.

“Stay off everything else, but if you need a bit of bulk with the soup, have some yeast and gluten-free toasted bread to dunk, or gluten-free crackers with organic unsalted butter,” says Page.

“Have the soup every couple of hours, or as often as you want. It helps clear the system and will make you feel better.”

Boost your system by also taking a vitamin C supplement, having fresh fruit and drinking herbal teas or hot water with fresh ginger and lemon. While you have a viral infection, keep off dairy products, she advises.

Drink matters

If you’re making merry and having more alcoholic drinks at parties and gatherings than normal, make sure you balance your intake with soft drinks and water.

Award-winning juice range Simply Nectar is free from colours, pesticides and refined sugars and contains only 100% pure juice.

The maker claims that they contain substantial levels of vitamin C, and the thicker drinks in the range, the mango, apricot, peach and pear, contain pulped fruit so they can contribute to the recommended five-a-day intake of fruit and vegetables. Juices start from around £1.49 for 250ml. For stockists call, 020 7720 4410 or visit

Remedy for fun

A relaxed, happy mind may seem a forlorn hope as you battle with gift lists and food preparations, but using an alternative remedy could be one way to encourage feelings of calm and wellbeing.

“We often find it hard to switch off and relax at the beginning of a holiday as we try to adapt to a more leisurely pace,” says herbalist and nutritionist Elouise Bauskis, who recommends Australian Bush Essence, Calm & Clear Flower remedy.

“This flower remedy helps the mind to wind down and have fun.

“The combination of boronia, bottlebrush, bush fuchsia and paw paw encourages clarity, calm and peace and enables us to enjoy other pursuits away from our routine pressures and demands,” she adds.

Australian Bush Essence, Calm & Clear Flower remedy, £9.95, available from