It’s the holiday season- and while visions of sugar plums, gingerbread, and all things tasty dance through your head, that sweet dream can quickly turn into a nightmare for your health! With these 8 health tips, you’ll be able to navigate and ENJOY all your holiday gatherings without any guilt.
1. Stay Active – Get your steps in!
Remember, you don’t have to be at the gym to get activity in, just move. Fit in exercise when and wherever you can. Take lunchtime walks, try a home workout video, meet friends for a fun fitness class, or play with kids. Whatever gets your heart rate up, do it at least once a day for at least 15 minutes to keep your health in good standing.
2. Choose Real Food – The holidays are FILLED with treats and sweets. The best way to avoid holiday weight gain and decreased mood while supporting your immune system is to avoid the ‘goodies’ and embrace real, balanced food. Aim to make half your plate veggies for each meal (yup, even breakfast). Embrace your leafy greens, bright red, orange, purple, and yellow veggies. Avoid processed, fried, and sugary foods. If the ingredients list is more than a few lines, ditch it. Remember, the healthiest foods typically don’t come with a label. Keep your health at the front of your mind, and remind yourself that sweets and treats aren’t going anywhere, so when you skip the treats you’re not actually missing out on anything!
3. Practice Moderation – How many of you scoffed at the above recommendation of avoiding sweets and treats? Well, if you have holiday foods and drinks that you absolutely can’t pass up, then practice moderation. Choose which will be a treat, grant yourself an appropriate portion size, and enjoy it mindfully- sip or eat slowly to help you focus on the moment and everything you love about your treat. Keep your health, blood sugar, and hydration levels in check by setting boundaries for yourself in order to help control temptations and cravings to over-indulge.
4. Be Positive – The holidays can bring on lots of stress, which as we all know can wreak havoc on our health… but they can also bring a lot of love, giving, and togetherness. Remind yourself to keep things in perspective and focus on joyfulness. If you have trouble keeping balance with your stress, practice some daily stress management techniques:
• Positive affirmations
Stress management is unique to each individual, so take the time to find a healthy technique that works for you. Once you find it, commit to a daily practice. You’ll be surprised how much keeping your stress in check can elevate your health and how good you feel.
5. Get Enough Zzzz’s – Sleep is important for:
• Immune health
• Stress management
• Energy and mental health
I recommend 8 hours of quality sleep. If you have an iPhone, there is a “Bedtime” setting in the clock app you can use to easily see what time you should be in bed to get adequate sleep for your wake time the next day. Commit to ‘powering down’ one hour before bedtime in order to allow your circadian rhythm to help you naturally fall asleep.
This means turning off all electronics: TV, computers, smartphones, etc. Don’t worry, they will be there when you wake up!
6. Budget – Yes, the holidays can be expensive and demanding on more than just your pocketbook.
Set a budget that you are comfortable with for:
• Money (what you’re willing to spend on gifts/food/travel)
• Time (what you’re willing to spend with exercise/family/friends/work/self-care/shopping)
• Energy (for your priorities and what you value)
Make your health and happiness a priority, spend time evaluating your priorities, write it down, and make a plan, and stick with it!
7. Delegate – If you are a person that can’t say no, learn to delegate. We all need help at times, and we all need to admit it. If you have too much on your plate, speak up and ask who can pitch in to share the load. You may be surprised at who has been waiting for the invite to help! The more you take on by yourself, the more stress you’ll create, and the more stress you have the more your health declines. Delegate!
8. Listen to Your Body – Our body is constantly communicating with us, and if we can learn to listen we can learn so much regarding our health and what our bodies are asking for! Listen to your body when it is telling you to…
• slow down
• eat a wholesome meal
• get more sleep
• manage your stress.
Check-in with yourself: are you taking care of yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually?
If you notice something is falling through the cracks, figure out a way to make that a priority again. Remember: self-love is not selfish!