A Healthy Holiday Season: Solutions to Common Problems
Holiday season can be a time filled with joy but also stress. The best way to manage the holiday season is to focus on simple solutions to help manage some of the dilemmas that occur during this time of year. Here are some simple tips to creating a happy and healthy holiday season.
Dilemma: My stress levels increase during the holiday season.
Strategies/Solutions: Managing stress levels will look different for every individual. The key is to find some healthy coping techniques and also prioritize that “must do” versus “optional” list of obligations that happen during the holidays.
Here are a few healthy coping techniques for managing stress:
- Get Moving: Physical activity can be a healthy way to manage stress during the holiday season. Prioritize your physical activity routine to ensure that you have this on your calendar.
- Relax: Try yoga, meditation, or tai chi to help with relaxation.
- Learn to say, “no”: Eliminate overscheduling. Prioritize the activities that bring you joy during the holidays and politely decline the activities that are just adding another item to the “to-do” list.
- Schedule Time for Self-Care: Self-care is different for everyone. Schedule time to take care of yourself this holiday season. Whether it is taking a nap, enjoying a community yoga class, or scheduling time to catch up with a good friend, think of ways that you can take care of your mental and physical well-being.
Dilemma: I tend to overindulge during the holidays with food and alcohol
Strategies/Solutions: The holidays are a time when overindulgence is common. The best way to curb overeating during the holidays is to create consistent eating routines. Fueling your body with nutritious food and balancing that with enjoying favorite treats at holiday meals and parties is possible.
- Don’t skip meals: A consistent eating pattern is key for fueling your body during the holidays and every day. Eating balanced meals, even on days when you know you have a party or special meal not only provides your body with the fuel it needs but also ensures that you won’t be starving by the time you arrive at the party or the holiday meal.
- Focus on favorites: Instead of sampling everything consider focusing on those few foods or items that you know are your favorites during the holidays.
- Stay well-hydrated: Sometimes we can confuse signals for thirst and hunger. Additionally, overindulging in alcohol can have some negative consequences including dehydration. Focus on moderate alcohol consumption at parties and events and then switch to non-alcoholic options. Stay well-hydrated during the holiday season with your favorite low-calorie beverage or try non-caffeinated herbal teas for a festive treat.
Dilemma: I’m less active during the cold winter month
Strategies/Solutions: Choosing activities that are enjoyable will help with consistency with your physical activity routine.
- Determine if you prefer solo or group activities: Do you prefer to walk with a friend or swimming laps? Understanding if you prefer solo or physical activity that is done in a group setting or with a partner is important. People tend to stick with activities that they enjoy the most.
- Put it on the calendar: Scheduling time for physical activity will help you prioritize it. Just like we put appointments on the calendar it is helpful to think of physical activity as an appointment that you can’t miss. Remember physical activity is free medicine for the body, great for both physical and mental health.
Dilemma: Hosting meals for friends and family is a lot of work and creates more stress than enjoyment.
Strategies/Solutions: Hosting a holiday meal can be a stress but it doesn’t need to be, here are a few tips for making holiday meal preparation easier.
- Divide and conquer: Determine what can be prepared ahead and make sure that foods that need to be prepared the day of the event are simple. Dividing tasks among several days can make meal preparation seem less daunting.
- Host smaller events: Instead of hosting an entire meal consider offering drinks and appetizers or hot cocoa and cookies.
- Hire Help: Grocery stores often offer catering during the holiday season. Consider ordering a meal or side-dishes if you don’t have time to grocery shop and prepare the entire meal for a crowd.