Let’s face it, it’s been an uncertain & crazy couple of years. As we all start preparing for Christmas & the new year, no doubt your calendars in the lead up are getting filled with events & social gatherings too. The AMPERNA® team is definitely getting busy.
It can feel overwhelming & exciting all at once & we can get ahead of ourselves. It’s easy to eat and drink too much and move too little during this time of year. If you’re hosting Christmas at your place that can cause extra stress in planning as well.
For all the fun and festivity, plenty of challenges abound at this time of year, so you’re going to need to be armed with some Christmas stress tips & ways you can enjoy yourselves in a more balanced holistic way.
We chatted as a team about ways that can help de-stress during this time & compiled a list for you.
How to De-stress at Christmas
Be a hydration station
There’ll be plenty of occasions leading up to Christmas where you might find it tempting to have that extra glass of wine or cocktail with your friends. It’s always great fun to have a drink and a catch up, but you’ll thank yourself the next day if you take it in moderation. Make sure you stay hydrated this holiday period to avoid any unwanted illness/headache. Try breaking the alcoholic beverages up with a refreshing glass of water or fruit juice when you’re out having celebratory drinks.
Don’t overload on sugar
With Christmas comes an exorbitant amount of sugary treats but to avoid getting hit with endless sugar highs (and the lows that follow), make sure you get plenty of nutritious food into your diet every day. Fruit and vegetables will provide you with heaps of essential vitamins, minerals and fibre needed to keep you functioning well. Why not try some antioxidant-rich dark chocolate rather than the milk or white alternatives.
Don’t burn the candle at both ends
There are so many people to see and catch up with, that sometimes we sacrifice some of our sleeping hours for party hours. This is okay occasionally but try to keep it to a minimum. It’s important to rest & rejuvenate your body with quality ZZZ’s during this period.
Take time away from the hustle and bustle
Make sure you give yourself time to breathe, relax and recuperate from what has probably been a very busy year. Read a book, go for a walk, try some meditation, or attend a local yoga class. Your body and mind will thank you for it, and come New Year, you’ll be ready for the year ahead.
It’s OK to say NO
When holiday tension becomes too much, remember you don’t have
to do it all or see everyone or do all the things. If you’re not excited about an event, or if social plans drain you rather than bring you joy — cut these extraneous obligations loose.
Get back to basics
Research shows the happiest people are those who connect with others and build meaningful relationships. The brain is made for human connection; we feel the most fulfilled and at peace when we are a valued member of a group. So as much as possible, pull your face away from behind that screen or mobile phone and forge real connections again with loved ones. It will be the breath of fresh air you’ve needed.
Braving the shops? Smell some lemons
Barrelling through the shops on the hunt for a last-minute gift? Step up to the department store perfume counter & dab on a natural lemony fragrance. According to researchers lemon scents instantly boost your mood
Gift wrapping preparation
A lot of stores now offer gift wrapping, why not cut some corners & get your gift wrapped. Otherwise buy extras of tape, gift tags, and more wrapping paper than you think you'll need. Nothing is more frustrating than running out of supplies with the job half done, and you can always save the leftovers for next year
Hold on to daily rituals
If you like to read for half an hour before bed, don't give it up in favour of yet another holiday chore. Our everyday practices help calm and centre us.
Keep it simple
A special gathering is not the time to experiment with a new recipe. Just do what you know how to do and can do well. Also keep the table setting simple, adding a seasonal touch with a single Christmas centrepiece and festive napkins. Focus on the fellowship of the people you're gathering with, and don't stress out on the preparations and menu
Get some exercise
Working out is one of the best ways to bust anxiety: Research shows that it promotes the release of endorphins, which act like a tranquilizer on the brain. Plus, exercise blunts the effects of stress hormones like cortisol. Go for a family stroll before or after dinner or set your morning alarm 20 minutes earlier to fit in a walk. (You won't regret it!)
Remember to have fun
In amongst the chaos take a deep breath and savour the moment. Give yourself permission to forget about all those tasks still left on your to-do list. It’s been a rough couple of years on us all, so be thankful for what you have & the people you have in your life.
What’s on the Menu?
Need inspiration for an Anti-inflammatory Christmas lunch? Here’s what we’ll be preparing for our loved ones:
Drinks: Strawberry mint spritzerINGREDIENTS
- I cup strawberries (sliced)
- ½ cup fresh mint leaves
- Sparkling water
- Optional – agave/maple/honey/brown sugar if you like it sweeter
Starter: Prawn Cocktail Tower
- 1 kg cooked prawns, peeled and deveined
- Semi-ripe mango, cut into wedges, to serve
- 1 bunch snake beans, cut into 10cm batons
- 1 Lebanese cucumber, cut into 10cm batons
- Lettuce leaves, for wrapping
- Thai basil, coriander, roasted unsalted peanuts and shredded fresh coconut to serve
- 60 ml (¼ cup) neutral oil, such as grapeseed oil
- 12 dried long red chillies, (optional) soaked in cold water overnight
- 4 golden shallots, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1 tbsp dried shrimp, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes, then drained
- 30 gm palm sugar (or to taste)
- 3 tsp shrimp paste
- 2 tsp fish sauce (or to taste)
- 1 tbsp lime juice (or to taste)
For relish, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add chillies, shallot, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelised (10-15 minutes). Add remaining ingredients (except fish sauce and lime juice). Stir occasionally until colour deepens and mixture is caramelised (10-15 minutes). Season to taste with fish sauce and lime juice.
Layer bowls by placing a "stand" in the centre of a base bowl, ensuring it's very stable. Alternatively, place a smaller bowl with the snake beans, cucumber, lettuce and herbs in the centre of a larger bowl with mango and prawns arranged over ice. Serve with relish and remaining ingredients.
Main: Roast salmon with leeks, onions & parsley dressing
- 2 small white onions, cut into quarters
- 2 red onions, cut into quarters or large wedges
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 leek, cut into rounds
- 4 spring onions, trimmed
- 2 salmon fillets (about 150-200g each)
For the dressing
- 1 anchovy
- 1 tbsp capers, drained
- 2 handfuls of parsley leaves
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Dijion mustard
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- STEP 1
Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. To make the dressing, mash the anchovy on a board, and chop the capers into the mashed anchovy. Scatter the parsley over and chop everything together until it’s all finely chopped and combined. Tip into a bowl with the shallot, mustard, vinegar and oil, stir well and set aside.
- STEP 2
Tip the quartered onions into a small roasting tin, drizzle with some of the oil, season, and toss. Roast for 10 mins, then toss the leeks through the onions. Roast for 15 mins more until the veg is golden and soft.
- STEP 3
Lay the spring onions in the tin and the salmon fillets on top, skin-side down. Season and drizzle with the rest of the oil. Roast for another 10 mins. When the salmon is cooked through, remove from the oven and spoon half the dressing over everything. Bring the tin to the table and serve the remaining dressing on the side
Side: Kale, quinoa, blueberry salad with coconut dressing
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed, roughly chopped
- 1 punnet blueberries
- 1 avocado, skin and pip removed, cubed
- 1 cup quinoa, cooked
For the dressing
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp honey
In a large bowl gently mix all the salad ingredients together. In a glass jar or small bowl mix together the dressing ingredients. Gently mix the two together and serve on a platter.
Dessert: Chocolate cherry chia pudding
1 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (almond/ coconut/ hemp are my favourites)
1/4 cup chia seeds
3 tablespoons raw cacao powder
2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey
1/2 cup cherries, pitted and sliced + extra for plating
Additional toppings: extra cherries, raw cacao nibs, dark chocolate shavings (use 70% dark chocolate or higher)
In a bowl or mason jar, stir together the first 4 ingredients: milk, chia seeds, raw cacao and maple syrup and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. (If using a Mason Jar, simply close the lid and shake!)
Just before serving, separate into 4 serving dishes, top with sliced cherries and garnish with raw cacao chips, dark chocolate shavings and extra whole cherries and enjoy!