Meet the Festive Makers: The Sanity Saviour

As part of our Meet the Christmas Makers special, festive ‘sanity savour’ Joey Ison - a functional health coach from Ely - shares five tips to ensure your seasonal celebrations are stress-free

We often think that Christmas and stress come hand in hand, where we reverse all our hard efforts and wait until the New Year to get back on track, but it doesn’t need to be that way!

Functional Health Coach Joey Ison, who is based in Ely
Functional Health Coach Joey Ison, who is based in Ely

We all know that stress isn’t good for you, but how bad it can be may shock you. In fact, a recent study found that psychological stress suppresses immunity, increases inflammation, and can be a trigger for many autoimmune problems.

As a leading health coach in Cambridgeshire, it’s my job to keep my clients’ mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health at optimal levels, and in this article, I have selected five essential tips to approach Christmas and reclaim your health!

1. Get Daily Sunlight

Did you know that a shocking 90 per cent of the population is deficient in Vitamin D? Vitamin D is critical for raising our serotonin levels, without which we can see a 14 per cent rise in depression.

While you may think getting daily sunlight exposure in the winter is not possible, even on the cloudiest of days you will be absorbing Vitamin D.

Pair this with eating foods, such as wild Atlantic salmon, and supplementing with K2 and magnesium, and you’ll put yourself in good stead for the winter months ahead.

2. The Power of Magnesium

Almost 80 per cent of the UK population are deficient in magnesium – an essential mineral that actions a whopping 600 chemical reactions in our body each day. This includes providing our body with cellular energy, and regulating motivation, mood, attention and behaviour.

But one of the biggest benefits of magnesium is helping to offset stress within our body.An easy way to ensure you’re getting enough is to eat magnesium-rich foods such as cacao, pumpkin seeds and Brazil nuts. However, less than 40 per cent of dietary magnesium is absorbed, so I urge all my clients to supplement daily.

3. Stay Physically Active

We all know that exercise can boost our mood, and so using this as a tool to destress is highly beneficial. You’ll also see benefits such as mitigating weight gain and lowering LDL cholesterol.

Heading out for a walk over Christmas is great for wellbeing
Heading out for a walk over Christmas is great for wellbeing

Whether that be taking a walk, doing yoga, or strength training – movement is medicine! Check out my Instagram ( to see how I will be getting my movement in this Christmas.

4. Eat SOUL Foods

Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed and Locally sourced (SOUL) foods are incredibly beneficial.

Most of the ‘convenience foods’ we see at Christmas are often laced with hidden toxic seed oils, sugars, additives and gums, that cause havoc on our gut health and elevate stress levels.

Instead, try to include some natural whole foods in your diet, including fatty fish (which is rich in omega 3, can reduce inflammation and lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol), dark chocolate (containing antioxidants and compounds that can enhance mood and reduce stress), and Valerian Root (proven to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality).

The festive period is a great time to check out your local farm shops to add some SOUL foods to your diet. My favourites include Cambridge Organics, Long Meadow Beef and Norfolk Fruit and Veg.

5. Prioritise Your Sleep

With Christmas parties, present wrapping and rushing around, sleep can often drop to the bottom of our priority list. However, I urge everyone to ensure they’re getting their deep quality sleep, and it doesn’t need to be eight hours!

If you struggle to sleep, a great way to give your mind a rest is to do just that. Certain studies show that as little as a 15-minute nap can help reduce our stress and tension.

I’d love to hear if you found these tips useful – be sure to tag me on Instagram to let me know what you’re doing this Christmas to keep stress at bay and optimise your health. Even just one is a great step and will have a positive impact on reducing your stress levels.

Remember, you’re not alone, so please do reach out if you have any health challenges and need some extra support during the winter months.

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