With all the hullabaloo surrounding the holidays, it’s easy to lose focus of what really matters. By refocusing on your mental, physical and emotional health, you can ensure that you and your family come out of the holiday season feeling replenished, loved and healthy.
Tips for eating healthy during the holidays
From pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes to filling casseroles and special drinks, tempting treats are a simple reality of the holiday season. But that doesn’t mean you have to indulge to the point of feeling sick or unhealthy. There are plenty of healthy ways to enjoy all the food the holidays have to offer.
- Plan to share. Try pairing up with another member of your family or a friend when you attend holiday parties or meals. Split a serving of your dessert of choice or favorite treat. Instead of avoiding great food altogether, simply share with a buddy instead.
- Hydrate. Staying hydrated can make you feel your best overall and ensure that your body knows when it’s truly hungry versus when it is simply thirsty. With that in mind, try drinking a big glass of water before you sit down for dinner or dessert.
- Get some rest. With so many events, it’s easy to get worn down during the holiday season. When we don’t get enough sleep it’s more likely we will lean on food as a source of energy. Getting enough sleep isn’t just critical for energy — it’s also important for mental health, which is especially important during the holidays.
- Plan a healthy menu. When you host family and friends at your home for the holidays, you have full control over the menu and can choose healthier options or lean on healthy swaps, such as substituting bananas for butter or Greek yogurt for sour cream.
Tips for staying active
While the holiday season is certainly relaxing, the flip side of that is that it can leave you feeling sluggish and exhausted. That’s why we recommend finding fun ways to add some activity to your holidays.
- Do a fun run. If your neighborhood or city doesn’t have an organized holiday run, make your own by mapping a route nearby with fun prizes for winners.
- Mix up your usual workouts. If you’re not feeling up to hitting the gym or going for a run, look into fun seasonal activities, such as snowshoeing, ice skating, sledding or cross-country skiing.
- Engage in old-fashioned family fun. The best part of the holidays is coming together with family. Add a game of tag, keep-away, touch football or a snowball fight to the agenda.
- Create your own scavenger hunt. Have someone hide holiday-themed cutouts inside or outside and send family members on a hunt to find them. The person with the most cutouts at the end wins.
- Clean up together. There’s plenty of winter work that needs to be done before spring arrives. Put your family and friends to work raking leaves, clearing garden beds and planting bulbs. You could also use this time to hang holiday lights.
- Introduce someone to your neighborhood. The holidays often mean that there are visitors in town. Show them around your stomping grounds by foot or by bike.
Staying mentally and emotionally healthy: Reduce stress and simplify
Holidays can come with added stress, which not only makes this time of year less enjoyable but is also a contributor to general poor health. By making some adjustments, you can assure the holidays fill your cup.
- Revisit your to-do list. Start by making a to-do list and then note the activities that actually bring you joy. If something causes more stress than happiness, think about ways to modify them or remove them from your list altogether.
- Be willing to say “no.” Stress can often be a result of overcommitting yourself. When you allow yourself to say no, either because you don’t want to go or don’t have the time, you free up time for you. Send a kind note instead.
- Avoid the perfectionism trap. There is so much pressure during the holiday season to create a beautiful experience for family and friends. Just remember, what people will remember most is the special time they spent with important people.
- Think about the real purpose of the holidays. Refocus on why you celebrate the holidays in your life and make sure that the tasks and errands you have on your to-do list contribute meaningfully to your celebration.
- Be willing to ask for help. There’s no reason you have to do all the decorating, shopping and cooking yourself. Engage your kids and other family members in the process. You could even turn big dinners into a potluck to spread the effort.
- Carefully consider your gift list. Are the gifts you’re buying really going to have a meaningful impact on your loved one? If not, consider saving money and giving the gift of time instead. Perhaps you could offer your friend a night of babysitting or offer to bring a homemade meal to a loved one instead. Meaningful gestures can mean so much more than last-minute obligation gifts.
Safe travel during the holidays
While you’re celebrating this year, remember to take extra precautions to safeguard against COVID-19 and the flu, especially if you’re traveling. We recommend following CDC advice and travel guidelines and double checking that everyone in your family is fully vaccinated. Mask up when possible and commit to good hygiene habits, too.