For many people, the past year has been one filled with incredible stress. The loss of a family member, children who never seem to be well more than a few days at a time, little or no sleep either from the demands of daily life or the worries which surface in the night, the deaths of important figures in our US history, insecurity in the world, global politics, ongoing recovery from Hurricane Harvey – the list just goes on and on.
This blog looks at some simple ways to care for your health - physically, emotionally, and mentally – during this time of year.
Maintain mental well-being. This must be at the top of this list. It’s impossible to navigate all the demands of this time of year without caring for your own mental health. If you’re feeling tired, you risk exhaustion and increasing your level of stress. Between shopping, baking, activities at school and church, and holiday parties, make sure you take just a few moments each day to just relax and clear your mind. Take an evening walk, listen to relaxing music, rent the movie you’ve been wanting to see, lose yourself in a good book, treat yourself to a massage, or do a little yoga.
Avoid overeating. Food is a major centerpiece of the holidays. It’s nearly impossible to avoid the treats and special foods. But remember the mantra, “All things in moderation?” Keep that in mind and your body – and mind – will thank you for it. Avoid the tendency to skip a meal to “save calories” for a later meal. This almost always backfires. Instead, eat a healthy snack to curb your hunger. Eat slowly as the brain takes about 20 minutes to let you know you’re full. Go easy on the appetizers, meats, desserts, cream sauces, etc. to leave room for healthier choices. Fill half your plate with veggies and drink plenty of water. Finally, don’t force yourself to eat everything, but choose what you most enjoy.
Choose beverages wisely. Stick to calorie-free drinks, such as water, tea or seltzer, instead of high-calorie festive drinks. Alcoholic beverages contribute empty calories and can cause you to make poor judgments about food. If you do choose to drink alcohol, again remember moderation and alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water.
Stay active. Besides being good for overall health, exercise can help relieve stress. You may even want to increase your level of physical activity during this time of festivities. For example, if you already run three times a week, run a fourth time. Not only will you feel better, you’ll also burn more calories. But don’t ruin all your efforts by using exercise as an excuse to eat more!
Beat germs; stay well. Everyone wants to look and feel their best during the holidays, but they’re also a “minefield of health woes,” from cold and flu bugs to party hangovers. Here are a few specific things to do which can help you stay healthy:
- Make sure everyone in your family has had a flu shot.
- Wash your hands often – every time you think of it. Handshakes, kisses, and hugs are great ways to spread infections like colds, flu and gastroenteritis. Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. Remind people who are coughing or sneezing to cover their mouths with their elbows. A single cough or sneeze can project thousands of saliva drops into the air.
- Keep hand sanitizer handy, not just for your hands but for things like doorknobs in hotel rooms, armrests, seatbelt buckles, and tray tables on planes, and little ones’ toys and books. Keep a big bottle out for everyone to use.
- Stay hydrated. Staying well-hydrated keeps mucus membranes moist so they’re better able to defend against germs.
- Get enough sleep. And, if you’re feeling sick, stay in bed. It’s better to miss a party than to infect everyone there with whatever you have!
Let it go. Many of us have mental pictures of the “perfect” holiday. Be gentle with yourself and lower your expectations. Focus on what really matters to you and your family. For more tips for holiday survival with busy families, check out our earlier blog post.
If you do start feeling “under the weather,” Integrity Urgent Care is here for you. We will be closed on Christmas Day but will be open 8 am – 4 pm Christmas Eve and 8 am – 6 pm New Year’s Eve. Regular hours resume on New Year’s Day. Happy and Healthy Holidays!
Brunet online blog. 6 tips to stay healthy during the holidays! McMahon Distributeur pharmaceutique inc. [accessed 6 Dec 2018]. https://www.brunet.ca/en/health/health-tips/6-tips-to-stay-healthy-during-the-holidays/
Dorfner M. 10 Healthy holiday nutrition tips. Mayo Clinic [online]. 20 Nov 2015 [accessed 6 Dec 2018]. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/10-healthy-holiday-nutrition-tips/