Health – Pre-Christmas to-dos

As this year draws swiftly to a close, we enter the busy and stressful period of final exams at school and university, the endless round of prizegivings, work, club and friends’ parties and the pressure of all those things we had wanted to do which we may not have managed to achieve and would so much like to tick off our to-do list.

You might be surprised at the number of people with a medical issue that has been worrying them for months who come to the doctor in mid-December! Take a step back, sit down with a cup of tea and prioritise. For those of us with students sitting exams, it is important to ensure they have nutritious meals, especially breakfast (teenagers need to be encouraged to have this meal as they often skip it). Fruit is good for the digestion and brain, dairy products like yoghurt, smoothies and milk shakes are good protein and contain calcium and vitamin D.

Spoil your teenager during this stressful time and pack a nutritious lunch with a filled roll, fresh fruit and a bottle of water to see them through the day. Encourage a routine with planned relaxation times, exercise times and study times and ensure they get at least eight hours of sleep. Try to get them up in the mornings for some sunlight exposure to keep the melatonin levels steady and help them to sleep well.

Consider all those issues you want to deal with but keep putting off for various reasons. These may include having moles checked, those blood tests the doctor suggested you have to check your cholesterol and screening tests such as mammograms, smears, prostate checks, heart health checks, optometrist visits and dental checks. If you prioritise these and try to get them done before the frantic Christmas rush, it is amazing how good you feel as you tick them off your list.

Plan a surprise for your partner such as a night away from the kids and the chores and some time for yourselves, to relax, talk and enjoy each other’s company over a dinner someone else has cooked.

As the weather improves and the days lengthen, try a walk in the evenings (or early mornings if you are a morning person). Regular exercise is a good way to relax, keep fit and lose weight after the winter. My husband and I have invested in a “Fitbit” and enjoy keeping track of our activity levels. It is a great motivation, especially if you have a group of friends all involved in some keen competition.

November is one of my favourite months with longer days, summer to look forward to and asparagus, artichokes and strawberries to delight the palate – enjoy the lull before Christmas.