Need a reboot? Here's how to recover from party burnout
December excess can take its toll. Anna Williamson talks to the experts about the best ways to restore order in your body
Feeling bloated, broke and battered by the festive party season? Join the club... Christmas is well and truly over - and now all there is to look forward to is a cold, dark and dry January.
But you don't need to battle through the first painful weeks of 2018 with an unshakeable hangover from December's busy and booze-filled schedule. We asked some health experts for their top tips for a January refresh.
Here's how to reclaim your body and mind after the festive excess ...
Say goodbye to wine face
Waking up with a puffy face and dark circles under your eyes from too many glasses of vino was likely a familiar sight in December. Now that party season is over, it can take time for our skin to recover from excess wine and fizz. "Alcohol affects your skin in many ways. We know for some, even a small amount can cause an exacerbation of the skin condition rosacea," says dermatologist Dr Justine Hextall from The Harley Street Medical Group. "Keeping hydrated and applying an antioxidant eye serum will help with noticeable eye bags," she advises.
For a cheaper and more holistic approach, nutritionist Christine Bailey suggests loading up on lunchtime watermelon to give skin a January boost. "Like berries, watermelon is a fabulous source of potent antioxidants including carotenoids, which are important for glowing skin," she says. "It's also packed with water to boost hydration."
Banish the bloat
You've devoured the mince pies and gobbled too much turkey. It was fun at the time, but now you've started to resemble Father Christmas with a festive bloated belly. Rob Hobson, head of nutrition at Healthspan, explains: "A poor diet can mess with the balance of bacteria in your gut, which can cause bloating." He suggests sipping on mint tea after eating. Not only does it ease digestion, but it will relax the gut wall and relieve excess gas.
Invest time in your emotional wellbeing
Being cooped up in close quarters with family, with mountains of washing up and too much booze on the go, can get pretty stressful at the best of times. When January comes around, your emotional health may need as much of a boost as your body. Healthspan psychologist, Dr Meg Arroll, believes that at the start of the year, is important to take some time out for you. "The festive period can leave you mentally and emotionally drained, so get back to you in the New Year. Engage in activities such as diaphragmatic breathing, yoga, Tai Chi, meditation and mindfulness to combat a chronic stress state."
Give your gut flora a boost
You've beaten the bloat, so now it's time to give your gut a boost and keep your microbiome in check. "Too much stress and too many late nights can put your gut bacteria out of balance, which can lead to reduced immunity and make you more susceptible to winter bugs," says Helen Bond, a dietitian from ProVen Probiotics. She suggests improving your microflora by eating fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and fermented milk drinks like kefir. Both are packed with friendly bacteria and can help tune up your digestion and banish the bad bugs. "You could also take a high-quality probiotic supplement, like ProVen Adult Acidophilus & Bifidus 25 Billion (£13.95 for 30 capsules, hollandandbarrett.com)," she notes.
"The bitter taste of foods such as artichoke, chicory, rocket, lambs lettuce, radish and watercress is a blessing for woeful digestion," adds Alison Cullen from A Vogel. "A small green salad comprising bitter foods such as these will do wonders for perking up digestive enzyme production and balancing stomach acid."
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
You might be undertaking dry January, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep a glass beside you all day. "Drinking alcohol dehydrates your body, causing your kidneys to send water straight to your bladder, instead of being absorbed into the body," says Dr Anshu Bhagat. Christine recommends counteracting this by slurping down six to eight glasses of water daily. She also suggests including hydrating herbal teas, like green and white tea, which are rich in antioxidants. If glugging all that water doesn't appeal, then watermelon is your friend. "Watermelon is high in many essential nutrients that can be depleted by alcohol," says Christine. "These include vitamin C, B-vitamins and magnesium. It's the perfect post-party season snack."
Get some Zzzs
Silly season means seriously little sleep. Between work parties, festive drinks and train journeys to far-flung relatives, there isn't much time for replenishing shut-eye. "Try a cup of warm Montmorency cherry juice before bed to help you wind down for a long night's sleep," says Christine. "The juice contains one of the few food sources of melatonin - our sleep hormone."
A final tip for better rest? Ditch your smartphone. "It is best to turn your phone off for a few hours to induce restful sleep," says Dr Anshu Bhagat. If you simply can't go without a late-night scroll on Instagram, he suggests reducing the screen brightness and trying to limit your usage in the minutes before your head hits the pillow.
Take that, January.