The seasons are officially changing!

As the days get shorter and colder, signs of the holidays –Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, New Year’s—are all around us. During the busy holiday season, it can be difficult to maintain your health, but here are a few tips to stay happy and healthy while enjoying all the festivities.

 

Ask yourself:

“What do I need more of this season to feel happier and healthier?” Understanding what nourishes you and incorporating these activities into your life can help you to enjoy the season without becoming drained.

 

Be Active.

It’s important to stay active during the colder months.  If you had a workout schedule during the summer, keep the habit going!  If you’re looking to try something new, consider starting a gym membership, finding a workout video to use at home, or participating in winter sports like ice skating, sledding, or snow shoeing.

 

Clarify your values:

By clarifying and applying your values, you can be more self-aware and effective. Take a moment to consider what is most important in your life. Find your motivation. Remind yourself “why” you want to make changes in your life.

 

Deep breathing.

Learning to take deep, slow breaths can have a variety of health benefits: your muscles relax, oxygen delivery improves, heart rate slows, blood pressure lowers, and endorphins are released. Just breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Exhale completely and, as you exhale, release tension from your muscles. Continue to inhale and exhale deeply for several minutes.

 

Eat well.

Healthy eating during the holidays doesn’t have to be hard!  Try these simple tips.  Fill at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.  Eat small, healthy snacks between meals so that you don’t get too hungry before the main event. Limit desserts to approximately 10% of your diet. Drink alcohol in moderation.

 

Focus on the present moment.

Savor eating. Take time to admire the decorations. Appreciate those early snowy mornings when you’re the first one out and about. The more you concentrate on being present, the more you’re able to enjoy the spirit of the holiday season.

 

Gratitude.

Research shows that making gratitude a regular habit can help increase resilience and life satisfaction, lower blood pressure, decrease anxiety and depression, reduce burnout, and improve sleep quality. The holidays are a great time to begin a gratitude practice such as keeping a gratitude journal or writing down three positive things at the end of eat day.

 

Hydrate.

Your body needs water to function properly. The artificially hot environment we create during the winter months can cause dehydration in your body and skin. Drinking water helps your body maintain its fluid balance and helps keep your skin rejuvenated. Drinking water also helps you to stay full longer, and you end up eating fewer total calories.

 

Individual responsibility.

You can choose to be an active participant in your health.  Consider a self-empowerment approach to wellness.  You can develop a greater awareness of your body, you can become educated about positive health behaviors, and you can make choices that promote your overall well-being.

 

Just one pound?

The idea that the average person gains large amounts of weight during the holidays has been disproven. According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Americans see their weight increase 0.2% in November and 0.4% in December.  This means that the average person gains approximately one pound during the holiday season. Unfortunately, people don’t usually lose this pound once they’ve gained it.

 

Keep on track.

The holiday season lasts for months. People often discover that, at some point between Halloween and New Year’s Day, they got off track with their eating or exercise or finances or stress management. Check in with yourself periodically to see if you’re making healthy choices.

 

Love.

The holiday season is about more than food and presents! Giving holiday gifts can become bogged down in materialism. Holiday meals can become a source of stress for a variety of reasons. Stay active and people-focused rather than entirely dwelling on material things.

 

For more tips, please check out The ABCs of Holiday Health: Part Two!