An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on 12/10/15.
Although the holiday season absolutely warms our spirits, it can also take quite a toll on our health. Between all of the baking, office parties, holiday meals, time spent parked on the couch watching holiday movies, and stress that comes with holiday preparations and spending, it’s no wonder that the most popular New Year’s resolutions involve improving our health and wellness! Make use of these holiday wellness tips in order to keep yourself healthy and sane even before the New Year begins.
Fit in your exercise
It’s no surprise that staying active is a great way to stay well this holiday season. Exercise will not only help you burn off those extra calories you consume over the holidays, but can help you beat stress, sleep more soundly, and brighten your mood. Don’t have time to get to the gym for an hour-long slog at the weight machines or treadmill? No problem! Even 7-15 minutes of physical activity will produce many of the same benefits of a longer workout. So break out those sneakers and try some of these quick workouts:
Use quick meditations or mindfulness exercises to beat stress
If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, a quick meditation or mindfulness exercise could be just what the doctor ordered. Meditating regularly, even for brief amounts of time, can reduce overall stress, improve cognitive abilities like concentration and creative thinking, and reduce risk for mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. And that’s not all – check out this 3-minute video outlining the scientific power of meditation to learn about even more health benefits of the practice.
Don’t let fitting meditation into your holiday schedule be another stressor – check out this 5-minute guided meditation to quickly start reaping the benefits. If you don’t like listening to a voice during your practice, you can try this quick mindfulness activity instead:
- Find a quiet place to sit and get comfortable. Close your eyes.
- Breathe in slowly for 4 counts, then breathe out over 8 counts. Repeat this cycle a few times until you feel relaxed.
- Now, become aware of your surroundings by noticing three things you can hear. For example, perhaps you notice a clock ticking, or the hum of the AC unit.
- Next, notice three things that you can smell. Maybe you can smell your laundry detergent, or your coworker’s lunch.
- Now notice three things you can feel. They could be a breeze on your face, or the chair beneath you, or the ground beneath your feet.
- Finally, try and become aware of these smells, sounds, and things you can feel simultaneously.
- Return to the breathing exercise practiced in step two. After a few moments, you may open your eyes and go about the rest of your day.
Create healthy eating boundaries
Special family recipes and holiday treats are part of what makes the holidays special. However, these delicious foods appear at nearly every holiday gathering and can make it very difficult to stick to healthier food options. One of the best ways to cope with these tasty temptations is to create realistic boundaries for your consumption.
It would be a pretty sad holiday season if you vow to not let a single dessert cross your lips. However, you could decide ahead of time that you won’t indulge while at the office, but can indulge guilt-free when you’re with your family. Or perhaps you could decide to pass up on any store-bought holiday treats but allow yourself to sample special homemade recipes. Creating these types of boundaries will allow you to still enjoy some holiday goodies without going overboard.
Coloring isn’t just for the kids’ table anymore – adult coloring is a new wellness trend that’s both fun and therapeutic. Coloring is thought to help reduce stress and induce feelings of wellbeing through the same avenue as meditation: it helps us switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus on the present moment. You can gather the whole family together for some stress-relieving fun with these holiday inspired adult coloring pages.
Be sure that you’re chugging water throughout the holidays! Hydration is important at any time, but the extra alcohol, caffeine, and salty snacks you may consume during the holidays make drinking water even more vital. Drinking enough water helps your body maintain the proper balance of fluids, which helps regulate everything from your circulation to digestion to the maintenance of body temperature. Plus, drinking enough water helps your kidneys appropriately flush out toxins from your body.
Research has shown that drinking enough water also keeps us energized, strengthens our ability to focus, improves mood, and prevent headaches. So drink up!
Be accepting of yourself
Maybe you overindulge at a holiday party, or overspend on your gift budget a little. Or maybe you put off wrapping and end up having to stay up late or get crabby with a loved one. When stress strikes, take a moment to step back and remember the joy of the season. Remind yourself that in five years, you’re more likely to remember relaxing with your friends and loved ones than messing up a batch of cookies or forgetting a gift.
If negative self-talk or perfectionism is getting in the way of enjoying your holidays, try writing out these feelings and then re-reading the page as if a close friend had written it. Comfort yourself just as you would that friend: assurances that nobody is perfect and compliments about the good things you’ve done this season. Then maybe make it a New Year’s resolution to continue treating yourself as you would treat a close friend: with kindness and acceptance.