3 Tips For Staying Healthy and Reducing Stress During the Holidays
The holidays are known as a time of joy and festivity; a time to spend quality time with family, to delight in the holiday season, and to make special memories with those you love.
But the holidays can also be really stressful on the mind and the body, especially as things like airline travel, harsh weather, and family stress begin to creep in and take their toll on your wellbeing.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way.
As a naturopath, I want you to feel empowered, healthy, and stress-free throughout the holiday season and all year round. Here are some tips so you can stay on track.
Don’t Postpone Healthy Habits
The holidays can be a time when a healthy diet and good lifestyle habits go out the window. This can almost feel inevitable, with things like parties, travel, and bad weather sabotaging any attempts at staying healthy and fit.
Plus, there’s the whole mindset of “New Year’s resolutions” that encourages you to indulge now and wait until the new year to hit the reset button. But you don’t have to fall into this kind of thinking.
I suggest flipping your thinking. The holidays can actually present an opportunity to get a jumpstart on the good habits you aim to start in the new year. Think about establishing the good habits that you want to carry into 2020 over the holiday break when you actually have time off from work and the usual routine—use that time to your advantage.
Some ideas to get you started:
- Try parking at the back of the parking lot when you go do your holiday shopping, so you can get a few extra steps.
- When it comes to food, try to bring a healthy option that you actually enjoy to each holiday gathering.
- Always remember to take some time for stress management, meditation, and self-care whenever you can.
Protect Yourself From the Flu
Unfortunately, the holiday season is also flu season and lots of holiday habits – like getting together for big parties or staying inside with your windows and doors closed – can increase your chances of getting a virus.
Decrease your chances of falling ill by taking a few key preventative measures:
- Watch your diet: Limit your sugar intake and make sure that you eat lots of nutrient-dense whole foods. Excess sugar can actually decrease your white cell count and make you more likely to fall ill, while vitamin-packed whole foods can help strengthen your immune system. So cut out the white stuff and make sure to incorporate fruits, veggies, and lean proteins whenever you can.
- Rest up: With early morning flights, kids off from school, vacation plans, and last-minute rushes at work, the holidays are also a time when you can really miss out on some much-needed rest. But getting at least 8 hours of sleep a day is one of the best ways to make sure that you don’t get sick or feel worn down. Try to maintain a healthy sleep routine and step away from electronic devices at least an hour before bed.
- Get some exercise: With cold weather and fewer hours of sunlight, you may not feel compelled to get outside and move. But getting your body moving is one of the best ways to stay healthy and positive. At the very least, try to go on a walk for 20 minutes a day – both the fresh air and the cardio will do your body and mind some good.
Practice Self-Care and Stress Relief
For many people, the holidays are the most stressful time of year. You have to deal with family dynamics, spend money, and reflect on your year and your goals for the New Year.
It can be overwhelming, which is why I recommend that you make a conscious effort to focus on your mental health and your mental wellbeing each day.
Specifically, try some mind-body therapies that can help reverse your stress response, including things like:
- Shifting your thoughts with meditation and affirmations
- Calming movement such as yoga or tai chi
- Creative outlets like art, dance, or music
Finally, make sure that you don’t overcommit and that you always make time for yourself. After all, the holidays offer us a time to relax, reflect and pause to enjoy what and who we love — whatever that means for you.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday and happy and healthy New Year!
By Dr. Maura Henninger, Licensed and Board-Certified Naturopathic Physician. For more information on Dr. Maura, please visit drmaura.com