If you are already feeling the effects of the silly season kicking in, it may be time to stop, take a breath and make some slight lifestyle adjustments so you don’t finish the year in a heap.
For the past few weeks, my coffee intake has risen to help me cope with a few more late nights. I’ve also noticed that I’ve been skipping lunch because I’ve been too busy, only to gobble down a chocolate bar at 3pm because I’m starving. Already my nerves are feeling a little shaky, so to make sure I make it through December healthy and energised, I’ve committed to making some changes.
Go easy on the caffeine
Caffeine is a drug that acts on the brain and nervous system. In small amounts (less than 500mg per day) caffeine helps you feel more awake, but in larger doses it can lead to dizziness, headaches, anxiety, irritability sleeplessness and trembling hands. Like many drugs, it is possible to develop a tolerance to caffeine, so often greater doses are needed to achieve the same energizing effect.
Approximate caffeine levels per serve include:
- chocolate drinks 60mg
- instant coffee 100mg
- drip or percolated coffee 150mg
- espresso coffees such as espresso or latte 200mg
- cola drinks 40mg
- decaffeinated coffee 3mg
- tea – 30 to 100mg, depending on the type and strength of the brew (both black and green tea contain caffeine)
- energy or sports drinks – such as Red Bull or ‘V’ – 80 to 90mg
- dark chocolate bar – 40 to 50mg per 55g serve
Don’t miss a meal
When blood sugar levels are low, your nerve suffer. Try to eat a small meal every 3-4 hours and stay away from sugary foods that play havoc with your blood sugar. Foods that are great for the nervous system include root vegetables (such as carrots and parsnips) brown rice, cold-water fish (like salmon), nuts and wholegrains.
Go easy on the alcohol
While December can be a time when you increase your alcohol intake with end of year parties and Christmas celebrations, don’t forget that alcohol is a nervous system depressant, so after the initial good feeling you can be left feeling a whole lot worse. The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends a maximum of 2 standard drinks per day for healthy men and women. A standard drink contains approximately 10 grams of alcohol – e.g. a 100 mL glass of table wine; a 60 mL glass of fortified wine; a middy of regular beer; or 30 mL of spirits. To keep your alcohol intake in check, avoid topping drinks up so you don’t lose count of how many you have had, try to alternate water or a non-alcoholic alternative with your alcoholic drinks and if you are having problems saying no to alcohol, talk to your doctor for support.
Learn to say no
If it’s all feeling a bit too overwhelming, take some time out. People may be disappointed, things may run a little late but at least you will make it into the new year in one piece. Make sure you include some down time for yourself to do the things you find relaxing.
A good vitamin B complex supplement is vital in times of stress. The mineral potassium is also great to soothe the nervous system and magnesium is important for people suffering from muscle tension.