HAPPY HOLIDAYS, CRUSHERS!!
Does anyone else feel like Christmas came out of nowhere? How is 2020 almost over?! (But also… how is it still 2020?)
But, here we are, in the middle of the holiday season! I hope you’re all making this an incredible week and are staying healthy.
If you’re worried about staying on track with your health journey during Christmas or whatever holiday you’re celebrating, I hope these tips are helpful to you! You can still enjoy this season while making great decisions for your mental and physical health.
I know, I know, the holidays can seem like a HURRICANE leaving no room for rest, but sleep is a vital part of health that you should prioritize. Pick a time where you turn off all electronics and put away the next chore on your TO-DO list to begin your wind-down routine. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try meditating before bed or going on a long walk during the day. For some helpful tips to get more and better quality sleep, check out this article.
Be Mindful of Your Plate
One of the most obvious ways to have a healthier holiday season is to be aware of what you’re putting in your body. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy the occasional indulgence (because you definitely should!), but you can still make healthier choices throughout the holiday season. Rather than mindlessly eating whatever is in front of you, take a moment to think about if you really want it or if you’re eating it just because it’s there.
If you have control over any cooking, try making healthier decisions! Instead of a third pie, try Rachel’s Peanut Butter Apple Pie Bars. You don’t have to throw out your favorite part of holiday meals (any other stuffing lovers out there?!); you can just find more nutritious ways to cook them. You can find more incredible meals here.
Take Time Alone OR Reach Out to Others
Last year, this tip may have just included the first half, but COVID has caused many changes and restrictions to people’s holiday plans. So, depending on your situation, you may need to reach out to others rather than step away from them.
If you still happen to find yourself in the midst of chaos, remember it’s essential to have a few minutes to yourself. Solitude, peace, and quiet can do wonders for your mental health, especially if you’ve spent a week surrounded by people. Introverts may need more of this than extroverts. Still, everyone could benefit from five minutes on the front porch looking at the stars before returning to the party inside (especially if you find yourself getting stressed out easier than usual).
Unfortunately, many of us may experience more insolation than usual this year. If that’s you, be mindful of loneliness or your need for more social interaction. These days, there are so many ways to be with people without physically being with them. You could use websites such as Teleparty to watch movies with your best friend across the country, or you could Skype your family on Christmas morning to watch them open gifts.
Find what works best for you to fight loneliness or stress this holiday season! (And maybe share your own tips in the comments!)
Make Conscious Choices to Move
If you find yourself sitting on the couch or at the table for many hours on end, you may need to get up and move around some! If you don’t want to turn off the TV quiet yet, do some Yoga while watching it or a few dozen air squats. You can also encourage the entire family to go for a walk (or go for a physically distant walk with your neighbors or friends) to get some exercise, Vitamin D, and time outside (all of which are crucial to your health).
The best time to go for a walk is after dinner to aid in digestion. You can also ride bikes, play Frisbee, or build snowmen with your grandchildren!
Skip the Third Drink
You don’t have to avoid alcohol entirely (unless that’s your choice or necessary for your health) but be aware of how much you’re drinking! With mimosas in the morning, spiked apple cider, and wine or beer at night, the drinks can truly add up while enjoying the festivities. Pick which drink is your favorite and enjoy that one, rather than having one too many.
Long term, excessive alcohol intake can increase the risk of health conditions, including heart disease, strokes, and cancer. Alcohol can also damage mental health, memory, fertility, and sleep. This doesn’t mean cutting it out completely, but mindfully choosing what you drink, how much, and when.
Try Physical Distancing
Typical winter illnesses, such as colds and cases of flu, are rife at Christmas. This is due to traveling, being outside without appropriate clothing, and a compromised immune system from months of stress and lack of sleep. So, it’s important to minimize your risks by eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, avoiding smoking, etc, on a usual Christmas. However, this year it’s even extra important to take care of yourself and your loved ones because of the pesky pandemic. So, practice physical distancing when you’re feeling the onset of a cold, fever, or scratchy throat, because that’s something nobody wants to give or get this Christmas.
Drink More Water
There are many health benefits to drinking water, and staying hydrated this winter is essential to staying healthy. Water helps maintain the balance of body fluids (which is necessary in functions such as digestion, circulation, and maintaining body temperature), control calories, energize muscles, keep your skin healthy, improve sleep quality, and maintain normal bowel movements. (Pretty important, right??) so, if you’re consuming more alcohol than usual (skipped number five, did you?) or enjoying more unhealthy food than usual, try drinking as much water as possible!
Isn’t this supposed to be the season to be jolly?? Then why are so many of us experiencing the exact opposite of jolliness? I would chalk that up to overspending, extra cooking and cleaning, longer to-do lists, and the unique stresses of 2020. So, avoiding anxiety completely may be nearly impossible, but you can still take vital steps.
Tips 1-5 and the following 2 are important in managing your mental health and can make all the difference. Also, try keeping a sense of humor and proportion and focusing on the good things happening around you. For more awesome tips in reducing stress and anxiety, check out this blog.
Engage Your Brain
It can be comfortable to sit in front of the TV for hours on end during the Holidays, especially if you have a break from work or don’t get to do usual activities due to travel restrictions. But try to remember your brain needs to work out just like your body! It’s okay to rest it occasionally, but try not to for the entire Christmas break.
So, instead of watching an entire season of the new Netflix Original in one day, keep your mind active by playing games like Trivial Pursuit, Charades, or Clue. (These can also be GREAT ways to spend some quality time with your family.)
Do Something Nice for Others
Did you know that doing nice things for others boosts serotonin levels (the neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of satisfaction and well-being)? It’s true! Altruism releases endorphins (like exercise), which creates a phenomenon known as a “helper’s high.”
With the consumerism that overshadows Christmas, it can be easy to get lost in hollow gift giving. While exchanging presents can be incredible and meaningful, there are other ways to show your loved ones you care. Try doing something for others this festive season, such as baking your neighbor’s favorite cookie, donating gifts to charity, or reading your kid’s favorite book so you can discuss it with them.
Hopefully, these tips will help keep you on track this holiday season so you can step away feeling proud of your choices.
What are some of your favorite tips for having a happier, healthier holiday season?