Thanksgiving Day officially kicks off the holiday season. For many of us, the next few weeks will be filled with various holiday celebrations with family, friends and work colleagues. In the midst of all this reverie, it’s important to take care of your mental and physical health so you can start the new year with clarity and energy.
So how do we navigate this season of celebration?
The best strategy is one word – moderation.
It’s great to celebrate this time with family and friends and if you are mindful of your health, you can stay fit during the holidays while still having a good time.
Here are five tips on how to stay healthy during the holidays while still participating in the fun and merriment.
Eat Wisely– The holidays are filled with rich, delicious foods and sweet treats but too much indulgence can wreak havoc on your blood sugar, not to mention your waistline! Try eating a small meal prior to a holiday party so you don’t arrive on an empty stomach. When at the party itself, it’s okay to enjoy a few rich treats but try to fill your plate with healthier foods like fruits and vegetables and eat slowly! It can take your brain up to 20 minutes to realize that you are full.
Don’t Skimp on Sleep – Going out more and staying out later can cut into sleep time. Research has shown that a good night’s sleep is linked to a myriad of health benefits including increased productivity, stress reduction, and clearer thinking. Getting the proper amount of sleep also lowers your risk for health issues like diabetes, heart disease and depression so aim for a minimum of 7 hours or more each night.
Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of water, especially alongside alcohol. Alternating a glass of water with an alcoholic drink is a good way to prevent overindulgence. Staying hydrated is essential to good health. Water delivers important nutrients to our cells, especially muscle cells, postponing muscle fatigue. It also helps with weight loss, aids in digestion, hydrates our skin and flushes out toxins.
Stay Active – Finding time to exercise can be challenging during the holidays so squeeze in fitness wherever you can. Small choices like taking the stairs, walking around the block, or parking farther away from your destination can all help. If you can’t make it to the gym, a short workout is better than no workout. Try a 10 minute burst of high intensive exercise like jumping jacks or aerobic exercise to get your heart pumping and your body moving. Finding time for fitness will also decrease anxiety and improve your mood.
Quiet your mind – Holidays can be stressful and it’s easy to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of shopping, parties, family gatherings, gift giving, house cleaning, etc. Make sure to set aside a small amount of time each day to quiet your mind – this can be done via meditation, prayer or even just listening to soothing music with your eyes closed. Taking the time to slow down and just relax will help you calm your mind, manage your stress and improve your mood.
Most of all, remember what the season is about—celebrating and connecting with the people you care about. Taking care of yourself and your health will allow you to be your best self for your family and friends and will enable you to truly enjoy this special time of year.