#NurtureNovember draws to a close, and here at Healthy Toolkit HQ we have been working on the next monthly alliterative wellbeing hashtag.
We are delighted to announce #DetoxDecemberHT to run through Advent and on to New Year’s Eve.
‘Detox’ is one of those words which through slang and ‘text speak’ has been abbreviated from its original spelling. As a noun, detoxification is a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances. As a verb, to detoxify means to be actively involved in abstinence or expulsion of toxins. We normally associate detoxification with diet, alcohol or medication, but as we shall explore further, there are other aspects to our professional and personal lives to which the principles of detoxification can apply.
Well done for surviving November! The ‘flu season started earlier this year and if you have avoided the sniffles then there is a minor achievement. December is full on particularly in primary schools: Nativities, pantomimes, making cards, school Christmas dinner, parties, discos, carols and readings all have to fit in around teaching and learning, end of term assessments, visits from SIPs and SPAs and possibly the big O if you were really unfortunate. It is a high pressure environment. Then when we add in staff socials, drinks with friends, Christmas Dinner and an endless stream of invites and food to use up, the potential to pack on a few pounds over the festive period is all too obvious.
However there are strategies that you can employ which can ease the tension and minimise the stodge. That is what #DetoxDecemberHT is all about.
If we take the diet approach first, though it might not be on everyone’s agenda in this colder weather, making sensible decisions about food can ease and possibly prevent the additional kilos. Detoxification diets are a January trend, but have you considered it pre-Christmas. If you find that you end up eating so much stodge with social events running through the month, why not consider healthy snacks such as these at other points in the day?
Other possible options avoiding extremes include a ‘veggie detox’ which may take the form of vegetable juices. We would also suggest going vegetarian for a week or two, particularly increasing the amount of raw vegetables. Such an approach is cleansing and the avoidance of comfort foods may actually help to suppress the appetite and avoid extra portions come the big day. We will be tweeting recipe and ingredient suggestions through the month.
We have blogged earlier this year about drinking enough water but in the context of this blog water does help to cleanse the body, flush impurities and promote a general feeling of wellbeing. Freshly boiled water served with a slice of lemon is also a natural diuretic and can ease many digestive issues too.
Many fruit juices contain large amounts of sugar: take the time to read the nutritional information. We are very keen on a whole range of infusions: peppermint, nettle, fennel, camomile or dandelion are comforting and cleansing. A particular favourite is lemon and ginger which is helpful if you are suffering from a cold or sore throat. A number of manufacturers have high quality products available in a range of independent and larger stores.
More alcohol is consumed in December than in any other month in the UK. Consider for the moment the impact on the liver as well as brain function and waistline. It may be a challenge to cut the booze completely, but who is up for this challenge? Can you manage from December 1st to Christmas Eve without imbibing? Waking up without a sore head is an incredibly positive experience.
The spirit of #DetoxDecemberHT lies in more than simply a change in dietary habits for teachers. If we examine our lifestyles as a whole we can identify other means to bring a more positive tone to our lives at a challenging time of the school year.
Making positive connections with people is a way to engage the grey matter, broaden our social circle and find new interests. This may be through social media which can enable like-minded individuals to connect in a positive manner. You may have a pastime which will enable positive interaction: a book club, film appreciation group or hill walking organisation can allow non-educational friendships to form. Don’t forget your social life and remember to go out on a few date nights too.
It is easy to forego exercise at such a busy time of year but please don’t forget this part of your routine. Walking is free and easy. or those really pressed for time apps which promise to deliver a workout in seven minutes are an option and YouTube has a whole range of videos at the touch of a button. Again exercise can help regulate appetite and discourage snacking.
Prioritise your schedule and make sure your SLT do so too. Nobody wishes to see an additional assessment or assignment in the final few weeks. Ascertain your deadlines, work out when you are going to test, mark and share in and around the other school events. Ridding your mind of additional pressures will ease the passage of this particular part of the term.
Meditate. Take time. Take twenty minutes and if you haven’t the time for that take an hour! Find a quiet space. A quick internet search will reveal suitable soundtracks to accompany and guide you. When we have meditated we find the process calming and relaxing and a means of freeing the mind from concerns and worries enabling a refreshed approach afterwards.
Declutter your life! Empty that drawer with the odd socks. Go through your wardrobe and if you identify something you haven’t worn for three years the chances are you will never see it again. Clear the leaves, shred those bank statements from 2011, fill a bag for the charity shop and empty out those out of date spices in the store cupboard. This task is more than tidying; it may focus your attention on other aspects of your life that need to go.
Reconnect with your inner child. Christmas is all about children and their pleasure and for those of you with young children this is an easy connection to make. For many of us Christmas triggers the happiest of childhood memories, so why not dust off those old Disney and Pixar films, retrieve Cluedo and Subbuteo from the loft or dive back into the Roald Dahl books you enjoyed so much as a youngster? Escapism it may be but who doesn’t love some of that?
Finally in our list of suggestions, why not take a social media detox. Who lives on social media? One day a week to break from this habit again gives the time to prioritise, focus and connect elsewhere. We had one social media free day and one liberated weekend during #NurtureNovember and returned refreshed and renewed. Why not save your Christmas Day tweets for family and friends only and avoid education issues!
To summarise then, here is our eleven point plan to a detoxified December.
- Eat healthily.
- Drink more water.
- Drink fruit and herbal teas.
- Cut down or cut out the alcohol.
- Make positive connections.
- Reconnect with your inner child.
- Have a social media detox.