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Surviving the Festive Season

With just over a week to go until Christmas, the excitement is mounting. However, for many people the Christmas season is a difficult and stressful time. Endless shopping in crowded stores, preparing for family coming to stay, all that cooking and tidying up with overexcited children under your feet. It’s enough to make anyone feel stressed and tired. This year, more people than ever are also experiencing extreme financial hardship, while still being faced with all the demands of the Christmas season. Fortunately there are lots of ways to make life a little bit easier this Christmas.
For those who seem to have too much to do and not enough time to do it, Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) helps to protect the body against the effects of stress, and boosts flagging energy levels. Unlike short-term stimulants such as coffee and sugar, Siberian ginseng actually nourishes the system in the long term, rather than depleting it. Siberian ginseng also helps to boost the immune system. The combination of stress and cold weather at Christmas time can leave you susceptible to various winter bugs and there is surely nothing worse than having to spend the whole of Christmas in bed with the flu!

If you do succumb to any winter bugs, Echinacea can help to reduce the severity and duration of the infection, while plenty of hot drinks with fresh lemon, honey and cinnamon will help to ease coughs, colds and stomach upsets. For more severe or persistent infections, visiting a medical herbalist is a safe and effective alternative to taking antibiotics, which are associated with numerous side effects, and which are completely ineffective against the viruses that are responsible for the majority of winter bugs.

While Christmas is a joyful time for many people, others may be feeling lonely or depressed. For anyone who has lost a family member, Christmas can be a particularly difficult time. St. Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a very safe and non-addictive anti-depressant, which is available on prescription from Medical Herbalists. Rose is also a very supportive remedy for anyone experiencing grief and loneliness. Dried rose petals can be added to herbal tea or rose essential oil can be used in the bath.

If you are losing your temper more easily than usual, passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) can help to calm you down. Rescue remedy is another useful standby for the Christmas season. You can take a few drops any time you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. It also seems to have an instant calming effect on children who have experienced accidents and upsets.

A daily walk in the fresh air and sunlight (what little there is at this time of year) helps to reduce stress and to boost mood and energy levels. If Christmas time is a difficult or hectic time for you, a walk can be a time of quiet contemplation or escape from the chaos. Talking over your feelings with a trained counselor or psychotherapist can also help you to cope with any difficulties that may surface at this time of year.

For those who are responsible for doing all the shopping, wrapping, cooking, and generally keeping everyone else happy this Christmas, having a massage is a wonderful way to allow someone else to take care of you for a change. It reduces stress and muscle tension, and can help with all sorts of stress-related problems such as headaches, anxiety, and insomnia. If you know someone who is under pressure this Christmas, a voucher for a massage would certainly make an ideal Christmas gift!