Essential Guide to Staying Healthy During the Holidays—10 Tips!
All of us love the holidays….
But it’s safe to say the drinks, rich food, parties, travel, and other festivities that go along with them can take a toll on your health.
Holiday activity can affect your immune system and increase your chances of getting sick; it can stress your nerves and leave you feeling anxious and exhausted.
A decrease in energy, poor digestion, and weight gain are all typical outcomes of an overindulgent holiday (no matter what time of the year).
However, the power is in your hands to make this year different than the rest. Take care of your diet, your fitness, and your mind with the following 10 tips for staying healthy during the holidays.
6 Tips for Staying Physically Healthy During the Holidays
1. Avoid Overeating
You know it’s true—rich holiday food typically leads to digestive troubles, including indigestion and gastro reflux. What can you do to be proactive to prevent these uncomfortable side effects?
For starters, the best thing you can do is to consciously moderate your food intake. The best way to do that is to know when you’ve had enough. You know yourself better than anyone, so make sure to eat within your limits. Enjoy your food by eating slowly, savoring every bite. You’ll be surprised how quickly you are actually full after a moderate amount of rich, holiday food.
In addition to this, we recommend you are mindful about the extras—appetizers, desserts, cream sauces, etc. Try to include healthier choices in your meals. For example, fill half your plate with veggies and drink plenty of water, both of which can aid digestion.
Finally, don’t force yourself to eat everything; instead only choose what you’ll enjoy the most. The goal is to savor your holiday favorites, not everything that is put in front of you.
2. Limit Alcohol Consumption
There are few missed opportunities to raise a glass with family and friends during the holidays. Whether it’s a cold beer, your favorite chardonnay, or a freshly mixed cocktail, drinking to excess—even if it’s only once in awhile—can cause irreparable damage to your health.
The adverse effects of alcohol can affect the entire body, not just cause a hangover!
Set Drinking Limits for Yourself
If you drink, do it in moderation. Women should limit their alcohol consumption to 2 glasses a day and men to 3. For special occasions, you may be able to bump that up to 3 and 4, respectively. Exceeding 10 glasses a week for women and 15 for men is considered highly unhealthy activity.
Before a holiday social event, we recommend you plan ahead and consider both what and how much you’ll drink. Again, you know your body’s chemistry better than anyone. Determine what you’re limits are and be honest with yourself. (And don’t forget to hydrate! Sub in some sparkling or still water between those cocktails.)
3. Boost Your Immune System
This is a tip that nearly everyone tends to forget about when distracted by holiday festivities. Keep your body and immune system at peak performance by making sure your body is “alkaline enough.” Put in simpler terms, make sure to eat enough fruit and vegetables so that your body’s pH stays in balance. This will help you avoid getting an upset stomach when you indulge in typical rich holiday food favorites.
For example, green tea with a little lemon is a great occasional substitute for coffee. Coffee, while delicious, is highly acidic to the body. Since we tend to eat things that are out of the norm during the holidays, it’s best to keep your body’s chemistry as balanced as possible to aid in digestion and keep you feeling great.
We also advocate taking supplements that are specifically geared to boost your immune system. Ingredients such as vitamin C, zinc, and echinacea are a good place to start. Vitamin supplements may help prevent vitamin deficiencies that can leave your immune system weak and susceptible to disease.
As always, consult a doctor if you have concerns and questions about what is best for you.
4. Stay Active!
Keep exercising. While tempting, we encourage you to not neglect physical activity the holidays. Besides being good for your overall health, exercise can help you shed stress and anxiety. You’ll even sleep better, too!
We recommend you even bump up your level of physical activity a notch during the holidays.
For example, if you already run three times a week, add in a fourth run. You’ll feel better, burn more calories, and feel less guilty when you have that slice of pumpkin pie later in the evening.
5. Be Proactive and Have a Backup Plan
We all know overindulgence is synonymous with the holidays. Whether it’s food or drink, consuming a bit too much can happen to the best of us.
For this tip, we’re focused once again on alcohol. Make sure you plan how you'll get home safely if you plan to drink, or decide to start drinking at a party. In fact, why even bother driving if there’s a chance you’ll have a few? Leave the driving to a driving service. Download apps for Uber and Lyft today!
6. Get Plenty of Rest
Most importantly, make sure you get enough rest!
Without proper downtime and sleep, your immune system will falter and you’ll undoubtedly feel stressed as a result.
After a long day planning, cooking, or spending time with your friends and family, make sure to treat yourself. Kick back and relax—sip herbal tea, read a good book, or enjoy a holiday movie with your family.
Activities that give you joy and help you forget about obligations are the best. By taking the time to wind down, you’ll ensure a full, healthy eight hours of quality shut-eye.
4 Tips for Staying Mentally Healthy During the Holidays
1. Know your Holiday Stress Points
We’ve all been there.
A certain family member puts you on edge. You take on too much, even when you know you don’t have time for it all. So-and-so’s children constantly misbehave and cause chaos.
Those little irritations can add up and compromise your health and your peace of mind.
Ask yourself the following:
What makes you feel most pressured or irritable?
What choices can are available to make this stress more manageable?
For example, if you have to see a difficult relative, maybe can you arrange something fun afterward. This way you can remind yourself that in a few hours you’ll be doing something that you enjoy. A planned reward will help you get through a potentially difficult time.
As you’ve undoubtedly experienced, holidays are a time of added stress. Taking time for a short meditation session can mentally equip you with the tools you need to stay calm and healthy.
If you've been thinking about taking up meditation, there is no better time than during the holidays.
You’ll feel a lot less stressed and develop the ability stay present in the moment. Meditation can keep you from sliding into anxiety during hectic gatherings during Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other holiday time of the year.
3. Create a Physical Space to Unplug
One proven way to maintain your mental health during the holidays is to create a dedicated space to actively remove yourself from a stressful day and relax in a calm environment. Most women (and men) recognize they require time to unwind, but often neglect their own needs in favor of the needs of others.
If you’re traveling for the holidays and cannot get away to your own dedicated space, don’t stress. Simply take the initiative and carve out time for a walk, a bath, or find a spare room where you can step away and decompress for a bit.
4. Enjoy Family and Friends Time
The holidays are filled with all sorts of activities and emotions. The energy of the season is joyful. And it’s a time where we give, receive, and of course, celebrate.
Spending time with family can be challenging. At times, it can lead to frustration and even minor conflicts of personalities, but try to focus on the positive and enjoy the time you have together.
Practice giving gratitude for the limited time you have together over the holidays and you’ll be happier and better of because of it.
We get it—you’re probably thinking that staying healthy during the holidays is a lot of work. However, this doesn’t have to be the case! By simply implementing these tips into your weekly routine, you can increase the chances that you’ll spend the holidays feeling good, looking great, and thinking clearer than ever.
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