During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it's easy to fall out of our normal routines and set our wellness and self-care aside. But in all reality, it is even more important to focus on your mental health and wellness during this busy time of year. Read on for tips to help you focus on your wellness this holiday season.
Make Time for Movement
Even a few minutes of physical activity can lead to health benefits. Staying active helps adults reduce short-term feelings of anxiety and leads to better sleep. Here are some ideas for adding more movement this holiday season:
- When gathering with family and friends, go for a group walk, or play an active game together in the yard or at a nearby park.
- Take the stairs at every opportunity. Those extra steps can add up!
- Don't let the cooler temperatures keep you from getting outside. Bundle up and go for a walk. Maybe even consider walking around the neighborhood to look at holiday light displays rather than driving in your car.
- When shopping for holiday meals or gifts, park farther away instead of driving around searching for the closest spot.
Maintain a Healthy Eating Pattern
Healthy eating helps us maintain a healthy weight, boosts our immune system, regulates our digestive system, supports bone and muscle strength, and reduces our risk of developing chronic disease. Healthy eating during the holidays doesn't mean giving up all your favorite foods and traditions, but finding balance is important.
- Consider making simple swaps in some of your favorite recipes such as:
- Using fat-free yogurt in place of sour cream or mayonnaise in dips and sauces.
- Substitute applesauce for oil, margarine or butter in muffins and quick breads.
- Try low-sodium vegetable broth in your mashed potatoes to add flavor and cut back on butter or margarine.
- At home or at gatherings, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables first to ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs.
- When dining on foods higher in calories, saturated fats and added sugars, choose smaller portions or eat them less often. Try to prioritize healthier foods most of the time.
Consider Building New Traditions
Many holiday activities and gatherings tend to revolve around food. Consider one of these options to shift the focus away from food:
- Sign up to volunteer for an event in your community. Volunteer at your local food bank or serve a meal at a soup kitchen.
- Take up winter hiking or try ice skating for a way to stay active throughout the cooler months of the year.
- Organize a craft night with friends. Door signs and other painting crafts have gained popularity in recent years. Some craft stores offer kits you can purchase, or you can visit your local store to custom-create a piece that honors the holiday(s) you celebrate in your household.
Manage Your Stress Level
The holidays are meant to be a joyous time but can cause a lot of stress for many people. Follow these tips to stay joyful and energized:
- Make sure you get enough sleep. Getting 7 or more hours of sleep can help maintain healthy stress levels. Set an alarm to remind yourself it's time for bed, turn off the electronics, and get the rest you need.
- Prioritize your time. The holiday season can sometimes be overwhelming with so many gatherings and social events. Acknowledge that it is OK to not attend every event, and give yourself permission to say "no" when you need to.
- When feeling stressed, try to focus on gratitude. Ask yourself, "What is one thing I am grateful for today?"
- Finances can also cause stress this time of year. Be realistic about your holiday budget and stick to it. Meaningful gifts don't have to come at a high price point.