How to keep your cool over the Yule!

Posted on March 5, 2024

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The level of stress encountered during the holiday period has been likened to that experienced during divorce or a house move!

In fact, psychologists from Coventry University in the UK, have now identified that the majority of us suffer from stress at Christmas, but tend to ignore it in our quest to create the ‘perfect’ Christmas for family and friends.

Christmas is a time of extra responsibility, and a radical shift from our normal patterns.  According to researchers, tiredness, lack of exercise and overindulgence of alcohol, food, and socialising all contribute to increasing levels of stress.  Combined with travel and exposure to large groups of people, our immune systems can break down, leaving us susceptible to colds and flu, not to mention the impact on our emotional wellbeing.

Here, Flex Director Heather Thomas Shalabi offers her top exercise tips to help you prepare for the festivities, recover from long flights, and even help aid digestion after that big turkey meal:


It might seem obvious, but all the socializing around the holidays (saltier foods and alcohol!), drier weather, and air travel, can make our bodies become extremely de-hydrated.

My top tip during flights is to abstain from drinking alcohol (speeds up dehydration) and keep food consumption to a minimum.  I even bring my own herbal tea bags on long-haul flights to keep me going, as only drinking water can get extremely boring over the duration.

Upon arrival at a party, try starting with sparkling water instead of a glass of bubbly, and alternate your glasses of water and wine. It makes a tremendous difference.  Get into the habit of carrying your own water bottle around with you wherever you go, and you’ll be amazed at how much more water you will consume throughout the day.


You might wonder how you can fit this in during the festive madness, but my general rule of thumb is stick to the one thing you LOVE to do and commit to it. Focus on reserving even 20-30 minutes out of your day to do the exercise you love the most – whether Sun Salutations, a quick run, stretching or deep breathing.  You will feel so much better afterwards!  Do it 5-6 times per week and turn off your phone, turn on your headphones and GO!  The Christmas tree won’t collapse and the presents WILL get wrapped, regardless.

And when away from home?

Pack the one little piece of equipment that can make your holiday workout plan possible: your yoga travel mat, your running shoes (forget the fancy running kit), your Trigger Point Therapy ball, your Theraband, etc.  These are all small, light and immensely useful. Be sure you unpack them and leave them in a visible place.

If you are staying at home for the holidays – keep them beside your bed or visible in the room (don’t let them get “tidied away!”)  It’s amazing how psychologically, keeping the visual reminder, is more likely to prompt you into action. Unfortunately, out of sight does often mean out of mind.

Stress and Exercise

I have two different personal strategies for dealing with stress:  deep breathing and yoga pranayama techniques are amazing for calming the mind, and some pranayama can also stimulate metabolism!

On the opposite extreme, high intensity interval training – short cardio bursts where you go full out for a set period of time, then rest, repeat cardio burst, and so on, really rev the metabolism and create a thermogenic fat burning effect in the body (great post-turkey)

But these extremes may not be for everyone.  The last thing you want to do around the holidays is make exercise a source of stress! Stick to what you know and enjoy. If you can make it to a class, even better, it will help you stay on track.

What are the real benefits?

Apart from keeping your mind calm and your body toned during the holidays, staying active will help you maintain fitness.  Staying fit at the end of the year is critical to help you set up for success at the beginning of the year.  There’s nothing more demoralizing than undoing all your hard work from the autumn months by blowing it throughout the holiday season.  It will make you feel as though you’re back at ground zero on January 1st!

Finally, stay active!  You will achieve your New Year’s resolution on the first of the year and it will set you up for an exciting new start to the year and will feel soooo good.


This Christmas, get a surprise gift on us when you top up your credit package*!
To thank you for your support this whole year, we’ve joined forces with a few proud local businesses to give back a little something.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

*for the first 100 credit package purchases over HK$6,000 in December

Remember, we are happy to hold your package during your vacation holidays, so let us know if you plan to travel.

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