As everyone gets ready for their Christmas break and those few precious days off grow tantilisingly close, things can get even more manic than usual.
And though you’ve set December 25th as the finishing line, organising family and elderly relatives, Christmas drinks and parties, present buying and wrapping and making sure you’ve got enough food in for everyone can mean you’re even closer to a meltdown than usual.
But if you do have a few days off over Christmas, it’s the perfect time for a much-needed recharge of worn down batteries so make sure you head into he New Year ready to take it on.
Keep your sleep on track
Of course sleep is the most essential ingredient for a decent recharge. The kids might be running around like maniacs and staying up until dawn wrapping last minute presents seems inevitable, but try and get some shut eye around these tasks. If you’re a morning person, get to bed a little earlier than usual and if you’re a night owl, don’t be a slave to your alarm clock and give yourself an extra hour in bed.
But in both cases though, don't turn your sleep patterns completely upside down as you may find going back to work in January even more of a trial. Aim to stick to waking up within an hour of your usual time and pack in extra sleep with a couple of afternoon naps and early nights. This will help your body stick to its winter rhythm.
Eat (the right) Christmas food
Most people won’t have to be told twice but fuelling up at Christmas but many of us feel guilty for overdoing it. But Christmas food doesn’t have to be bad for you. Fish is packed with vitamin D so switch your usual cereal for scrambled eggs and salmon, add a few extra veggies to your roasts and pack your (wholegrain) turkey sandwiches with salad.
And as you have a little extra time, boost your antioxidant and vitamin intake with home-made smoothies and juices and snack on Christmas nuts, which will help repair frazzled hair, skin and nails.
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If you’ve been busy this festive season, you may be lacking in vitamins and minerals that give you energy so look for foods high in iron, zinc, magnesium and B vitamins and chow down on these Christmas superfoods.
Go tech free
You don’t have to give up all the technology that makes your live easier but try making a few small changes to things we know don’t do us any good. Instead of browsing Facebook on your tablet before bed, put it down and pick up a book. Unglue yourself from your smartphone and indulge in a little face to face conversation and enjoy the parts of Christmas that can be done screen-free, such as preparing the Christmas meal or playing with the kids and their new toys.
Read something you don’t have to read
Studies have proven that reading for pleasure reduces stress by concentrating the mind on something abstract. Save up your glossy supplements, dig out that half-finished novel or just enjoy getting through the whole of the newspaper. Christmas is a time to put your feet up and read something because you want to, not because you have to. So even if you’re studying or have work to do, give yourself half an hour here and there to enjoy reading something for the sake of it.
Even though you might want to give yourself a total break this Christmas, exercise keeps you healthy, helps you sleep well and will ward off some of the effects of all that rich food. But if your usual gym workouts are off the menu, go for a walk instead. Take some time out by yourself or arrange a family walk to get everyone outdoors (and soak up some vitamin D at the same time).
Even though rain is potentially on the cards, look for windows of opportunity in the clouds, or failing that, dig out the waterproofs and take the littlest members of the family puddle jumping.
Cuddling reduces stress and blood pressure and helps you bond with your partner, children, family and friends so don’t be stingy on the hugs this Christmas.
Think about goals and make resolutions
The holiday gives you time to reflect on the year that’s gone and consider what you want to achieve in the one that’s about to start. Make some notes (and possibly even a resolution or two) about where you’d like to be this time next year. More importantly consider the practical ways of getting there. But be realistic.
Don’t try and make 10 resolutions at once, as you’ll find you just don’t have the willpower to stick to all of them and you’ll be setting yourself up to fail. If you have many changes you want to make, try putting them in a timeline and give yourself staggered deadlines for achieving each.
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That extra time in bed doesn’t have to be used for sleeping. There are loads of health benefits to having sex, not to mention those to your relationship, so rather than flipping channels to find yet another Christmas movie, head to the bedroom to spend some one on one time with your partner.