The holiday season is upon us, and while we may love the lights and fun feeling in the air, it can also be a time of the year that gets us in more ways than one. The holidays can make people feel stressed out and cause them to overeat and gain weight. The good news is that you can stay healthy this holiday season with a few steps.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the festivities and season and push your health aside,” explains Jennifer Scherer, a registered dietitian nutritionist, medical exercise specialist, certified personal trainer and owner of Fredericksburg Fitness Studio. “Instead of regretting that, focus on doing a few things that will focus on self-care during this time.”
According to a study published in the Journal of Obesity, the holiday season could be a critical period for gaining weight. The study reports that adults often gain weight during this time of the year. Add to this that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) says that many adults find this time of the year stressful because their focus on family, work and money intensifies. This is more common in women than men, and women are less likely to take time to relax or manage stress.
The stress and weight gain can set people up for a challenging time during the season and after. This makes it essential to minimize the impact now. Doing even one or two things to reduce the effect will help make a difference.
Here are seven crucial things to do this holiday season to stay healthy:
1. Stay active.
Try incorporating physical activity into your daily routine, whether going for a walk, doing home workouts or trying out a new exercise class. Being active helps reduce stress and burn calories.
2. Eat mindfully.
Enjoy your favorite treats in moderation, and make healthier choices whenever possible. Fill your plate with nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. Eat everything with intention rather than consuming calories absent-mindedly.
3. Prioritize self-care.
Take time to relax and recharge. Practice stress-management techniques like deep breathing, meditation or taking a warm bath. Also, make sure you are getting a good night’s rest.
4. Travel well.
Many people travel during the holidays, throwing off their eating, sleeping and exercising habits. Plan so that you can minimize the negative impact and stick to your standard patterns as much as possible.
5. Just breathe.
One of the most therapeutic things you can do when feeling overwhelmed or stressed is to simply breathe. Focus on the breath, either engaging in meditation or breathing exercises.
6. Be kind.
Being kind to others during the holiday is good for both of you. The APA reports that small acts of kindness make people feel better, both the person giving and receiving. In a recent APA poll, around 90% of the people reported feeling better when they gave and received an act of kindness.
7. Say no.
Now is the time to learn to say no to things. By saying no to some things, you protect your mental health and will not have the stress of attending everything you are invited to participate in. It’s OK to say no.
“Creating a balance for this year’s holiday is all about finding what works best for you. It’s OK to indulge in some holiday treats, but remember to take care of your body and mind,” Scherer said. “Enjoy the festivities while staying mindful of your health. Find what brings you happiness and makes you feel good about yourself.”