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April 4, 2008

FESTIVE CHEERS: Your guide to getting through the silly season in one piece

A quick look at the social calendar for anyone associated with the events industry can bring a sense of foreboding to even the most hardcore party goers, so here are a few tips to help you get to 2 January without waiting to find your liver standing by the door, bags packed and waving a white flag at you. It just takes a little preparation and conviction…

Water, water everywhere

Boring but necessary. During a period when everything you (over)eat and drink is likely to dehydrate you and leave you feeling sluggish and lethargic you need to keep your water intake up. Get ahead of the game by pre-hydrating before you go out for the night and re-hydrating as soon as you get in. Sip your way regularly through the day and you'll be guaranteed to have good energy and suffer less severe hangovers – honestly!



Party time: but getting through it unscathed is no mean feat


Let’s get physical
OK, so it might be the last thing you feel like as you get stuck into the festive season, but you need to keep your fitness levels up to survive the extra commitments that come along at this time on top of your regular workload and social life. Sneak in activity wherever you can to keep yourself sharp, keep the blood flowing and the mind clear. The fitter you stay during this time, the easier it will be for your body to metabolise extra food and alcohol and also to clear out any unwanted toxins that build up and make you feel grotty. Get walking round the block and avoid taxis where you can. With all the extra consumption in December, you’ll be glad you did it come January.

Breakfast of champions
By this stage, you may start the day feeling a bit worse for wear, but resist the temptation for the fry up you crave. Instead grab yourself a glass of water, some orange juice and some wholemeal toast – one slice with eggs, one slice with jam – and you’ll be feeling fine before you know it. Carbs and protein will get you back on track quicker than extra fat at this point, and the eggs contain large amounts of cysteine, a secret weapon that helps mop up hangover-causing toxins.

When to say no!
No clever athlete or sportsperson enters every single event going and hopes to do well in them all. Navigating your way through Christmas is the closest many people come to a sporting calendar, so follow the lead of those who know about these things. Pick your events carefully and make the most of those you go to. Check your diary in advance to see what doesn’t look that exciting and get your excuses in early.

There’s more to rehydration than drinking water
Still waters run deep, they may not provide the comfort you need during the winter. If you’re craving something with a bit more punch, opt for herbal teas, ginger tea, mint tea or Roibosh tea for soothing drinks that leave you feeling energised and focused.

Surround yourself with super foods
Simple but really effective, berries, nuts, dried fruit and seeds, if you can stomach them, are your secret weapon in the quest to keep your energy up during this busy period. Deep coloured fruits provide nutrients and anti-oxidants to keep your body working well during times of excessive punishment. Nuts and seeds provide a little bit of fat, which keeps you full, stops you overeating at any mealtimes and lines the stomach for those big nights out.

Fruit Juice or Red Bull?
Fruit juice, slightly diluted, will give you energy, vitamins and nutrients, and will hydrate you. Red Bull will give you nervous energy and dehydrate you leaving you tetchy and irritable. It’s your choice.

Sleeping – how to get to sleep and other foods to help soak up the alcohol
You can’t make the liver metabolise the alcohol you have consumed any more quickly by drinking coffee or eating kebabs before bedtime. Water will prevent dehydration being so severe and a small snack will help to stabilise your blood sugar levels, which can prevent you from waking up a lot during the night, so opt for a simple sandwich with brown bread, chicken and salad – but if you’re making it yourself, stay away from the sharp knives!

No harm in napping
Yes you’re going to have to pick your moments carefully, but a quick power nap could save your life amidst the social bluster of Christmas. Between five and 15 minutes is all you need so find somewhere quiet and close your eyes to recharge before the next piece of action. But remember to set your alarm.

The strategic approach to hangovers
Make a tactical recovery. Plenty of water, a good breakfast (see above), some ‘clean’ snacks like apples, bananas or pears, a good lunch with protein, carbs and veg, and you’ll be as right as rain before you know it. Staying on the straight and narrow may not feel like your fist choice at this point, but it will get you feeling better much quicker than giving in to convenience options that simply will not fuel your recovery.

Hair of the dog, anyone?
Scientifically not a great solution as it simply postpones the moment when your liver will have to clear out the toxins that you’ve consumed. Having said that, it has been used as a tactic to ‘manage’ a period of busy events and delay recovery to a time when you can actually recover properly. In military terms this would be a tactical strike with some collateral damage.

Plan for the big works bash
This will probably be the pinnacle of all your drinking practice, so, like all great sportsmen and women, visualise your desired outcome and behave accordingly. Plan, in advance, what is acceptable at this key event and what isn’t and then follow the plan. Those who go ‘off piste’ are the ones that end up in the stationery cupboard or on the photocopier. It’s only one night so be sensible if you need to. At the very least, line your stomach beforehand with a meal that contains some fat and alternate the alcohol with something lighter until the boss goes home. Unless of course you are the boss!

…and one final tip: when it’s all over, give yourself time to recover!

Jefff Archer is managing director of The Tonic

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