December 16, 2021
The holidays are here, and with them come opportunities for festivities and celebrations. They can also be a time of undue stress and expanding waistlines. As you begin making plans for the season, it’s important to also make a few key decisions about how to best maintain your health through it all. Here are seven tips to help you avoid the holiday blues and remain at your best.
1. Make healthy food choices
If there’s one thing you can count on for the holidays, it’s delicious food. From salty to sweet crispy to buttery, baked to sautéed—you’re sure to find a little (or a lot) of everything. As you indulge in some tasty treats this holiday season, do your best to make healthy food choices or follow any dietary restrictions you may have in place. And be sure to give a little attention to a fresh-cut vegetable or piece of fruit every now and then.
2. Keep moving and exercising
Whether you find yourself crashing on the couch after a delicious meal, watching a televised sporting event with friends, or enjoying some downtime with neighbors and family, it’s easy for the “sitting minutes” to add up during the holidays. It’s equally easy for the holiday calories to be readily available. That’s why it’s as important as ever to regularly get up and move. Try and schedule at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. This could include daily walks, making use of some resistance bands, or maintaining your regular workout routine—if possible.
3. Stay involved
For many, the holidays are a time of joy and celebration with family, friends, and loved ones. For others, they can be a time of loneliness—whether because of location limitations or other circumstances. While it may not be possible to find a solution for every situation, one thing can play a major role in you or a loved one’s overall health: involvement. In many cases, this may mean stepping outside your comfort zone or your own traditions.
Consider these ideas to reach out and share with others:
4. Check in with yourself
When the hustle and bustle of the season is at its peak, it’s common (and normal) for many to feel their days aren’t very merry or bright. If you’re one of millions trying to cope with anxiety and depression or living with grief and loss, rest assured there are several things you can do to help manage those feelings and add a bit of color to your holiday blues. For starters, try creating a gratitude journal or gratitude list. Not only will this help you focus on the things that really matter, but it will also provide an opportunity to reflect on your own cherished Christmas memories. You might also consider taking moments throughout your day to meditate. Meditation has a way of helping clear the mind, relax, and regain control of thoughts and situations.
5. Avoid excess
The holiday season isn’t just renowned for its delicious treats and countless sweets. It’s also known for packing on the unwanted pounds. Alcohol can also be a major culprit. This holiday season, practice moderation in everything you consume, being especially mindful of how it might affect your mind and body. And if you choose to enjoy a drink, salty snack, or sugary treat or two, make sure to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and keep things balanced.
6. Shake up traditions
The holidays are usually packed with a schedule of events that range from cooking meals to planning parties. Traditionally, the older relatives often play host to many of these activities. To help lighten the load and manage the stress that can accompany such endeavors, consider passing the torch to your adult children. Not only will this give you a chance to sit back and relax without all the headache of organizing, but it will also ensure certain time-honored traditions are kept intact by the younger generation of family members.
7. Avoid falls
With many people heading out and about during the holidays, the chances of an accident increase for seniors who are at a higher risk of falling. Add in snowy, icy, or inclement weather conditions, and a slip can seem downright inevitable. Regardless of where your holiday plans take you, make sure you are prepared with doctor-recommended mobility aids. And don’t be afraid to ask for a helpful hand when getting in and out of vehicles or walking up and down snowy steps and walkways.
8. Stick to a sleep schedule
The holidays are a great time to catch up with family and loved ones. As such, it can be fun to stay up late chatting, watching movies, or simply making the most of time together. As a result, it can be easy to get out of your regular sleep schedule. When this happens, there’s a risk of sleep deprivation setting in—which can affect your overall mood and health by impairing cognitive function or causing dehydration, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance. Where possible, try to stick to your bed and wake times, aiming for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
Remember, managing your mental health and self-care are as important as managing your diet, sleep, and exercise—especially during the holidays. And don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor if feelings of sadness and depression persist, or if you need extra help.