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These 15 expert tips will set you up for a joyful day.

| By Kirsten - Psychologist and Co Founder of Myndly, Chloe Mcleod, and Rachael Thompson | Journal

A Dietitian and a Psychologist Weigh In on How to Feel Your Best on Christmas Day

These 15 expert tips will set you up for a joyful day.

For many of us, Christmas Day is one of the best times of the year. Meeting up with loved ones for good food, gift-giving, and celebrating makes it a special and joyful occasion. But it can also be a stressful and overwhelming day.

Whether it's juggling family dynamics, having unmet expectations, feeling lonely, or overindulging, Christmas Day isn't always what we hope it to be and can bring about a unique set of challenges.

In an effort to help you feel your best – both physically and mentally – on Christmas, we reached out to psychologists and co-founder of Myndly, Kirsten, and dietitian Chloe Mcleod to get their expert tips on how to cultivate a sense of balance, nourishment, and emotional well-being during this special time of the year.

1. Manage your expectations

Kirsten: Recognise that the real joy of Christmas Day lies in the small moments and connections rather than in perfection. Creating realistic expectations allows for a more relaxed and enjoyable celebration. Focus on specific, achievable goals for the day. Whether it's prioritising quality time with loved ones or enjoying specific festive activities, this approach allows for a more relaxed and enjoyable celebration.

2. Plan ahead

Chloe Mcloed: If you’re attending an event on the day, offer to bring a fresh salad, veggie side, or some delicious summer fruits to complement the other options on offer. Similarly, if you have specific requirements, don’t be afraid to bring along your preferred gluten-free bread or non-alcoholic drink option, for example – there’s no need to miss out! Finally, keep some portable, satiating healthy snacks (like a protein bar or some roasted chickpeas) with you, just in case!

3. Don’t skip breakfast

CM: A balanced breakfast is key for healthy blood sugar balance, which helps us feel energised and satisfied, and less likely to overindulge later in the day!

4. Practise gratitude

K: Take a moment to reflect on the unique joys and blessings that Christmas Day brings. Expressing gratitude for the moments, the shared traditions, or the presence of loved ones can create a sense of goodness and appreciation.

5. Eat mindfully

CM: Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness signals, before, during and after eating. Ensure you eat enough to satisfy your hunger, but avoid overeating to the point where you feel uncomfortably full.

6. Invest in your important relationships

K: Connect in meaningful ways by engaging in deep conversations and shared activities. For instance, you might exchange childhood stories or reminisce about cherished memories with family or friends. You might prepare the Christmas Day meal together, play a game, or explore neighbourhood houses adorned with Christmas lights. The joy of these connections will add to the wonder of Christmas Day.

7. Balance your plate

CM: Filling half our plate with colourful salads and vegetables, a quarter with carbohydrates (like roasted potatoes), and a palm-sized serving of lean protein, provides us with long-lasting energy and leaves us feeling balanced.

8. Immerse yourself in the sensory experience

K: Whether it's enjoying the beauty of Christmas decorations, relishing the aromas of good food and wine, or appreciating the laughter around you, being present and ‘taking in’ the moment enhances the magic of Christmas Day.

9. Indulge if you want to!

CM: Christmas Day is, after all, just one day! Stay on track by choosing one or two indulgences that you absolutely love. Savour every bite, and the company you’re sharing it with!

10. Embrace the spirit of giving

K: Acts of kindness, such as surprising someone with a thoughtful gift, offering a helping hand or simply giving your time, enhance the heartwarming sense of happiness that comes with Christmas. Consider ways you might be able to give this festive season, especially to those who are likely to feel lonely at Christmas, or those less fortunate than ourselves.

11. Do the things that feel special to you

K: Whether it's baking, sharing stories, or participating in cherished traditions, engaging in meaningful Christmas activities with personal significance fosters a sense of connection and joy.

12. Stay hydrated

CM: Warmer weather, coupled with an alcoholic drink or two, means hydration is especially important! Try drinking a glass of water before each alcoholic drink, and sip on a refreshing non-alcoholic option or two; try a sugar-free kombucha, or whip up a non-alcoholic spritzer with fresh pineapple, lime, ginger, mint and sparkling water, for example.

13. Gift yourself compassion

K: Amidst the hustle and bustle, remember to be kind to yourself. Recognise that the spirit of the festive season extends to self-compassion. Treat yourself with understanding and patience on Christmas Day, embracing the festive season with a heart full of warmth and acceptance. Take a break to indulge in a holiday treat or carve out time for a quiet moment of reflection. Acts of self-compassion bring a sense of kindness and acceptance.

14. Be active

CM: It doesn’t have to be anything too high intensity (unless that appeals!) – simply aim to move your body. Try starting the day with an at-home Pilates sequence, go for a family bike ride or enjoy a gentle walk in the evening.

15. Spread the cheer

K: Share the positivity and joy of Christmas Day with others. Expressing positive thoughts, sharing laughter, and giving unconditionally contribute to a heartfelt atmosphere. As you spread Christmas cheer, you'll find your own spirits lifted, creating a truly joyous and memorable festive season.

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