11 Ways to Stay Healthy and Happy During the Holidays

I love the holidays. Spending time with family and friends. The decorations. And, yes, the occasional sugary treat. It’s all wonderful.

At the same time, this time of year can be stressful on your waistline, sanity, and bank account.

That’s why it’s important to make your health a priority during this time of year. It will help keep track of your health goals. It will also boost your immune system, keep you sane, and prevent you from overindulging — in either treats or spending.

Best of all, you can remain healthy during the holidays without being that mom who brings a salad to a party!

1. Stick to your morning time.

Even if you’re doing a lot of traveling throughout the holidays, you can still realistically stick to your morning routine. Doing so can help with time management and alleviate stress and anxiety.

While we all have our own morning routines that work best for us individually, here’s the best ways to create and stick to a successful morning routine;

  • Prepare the night before, like laying out your outfit, making the kids lunches, and reviewing your calendar for tomorrow.
  • If possible, wake-up before everyone else. This gives you the time to exercise, eat a healthy breakfast, read, or take a shower.
  • Stretch so that you’re centered mentally and physically for the day.
  • Ask your partner and children to help out with household chores, like walking the dog or helping clean breakfast dishes.
  • If you children are old enough, then give them some basic guidelines and let them get themselves ready.
  • Keep your morning routine as simple as possible so that they’re less chaotic. More importantly, when your morning routine is simple, you’re more likely to stick with it.

2. Don’t focus just on food.

Food is a major theme of the holidays. And, while there’s nothing wrong with enjoying holiday meals and snacks, you don’t want to overdo it. So, one simple way to avoid overeating is to plan activities or even create new rituals that aren’t centered around food.

This could be anything from caroling to volunteering to playing games to visiting a museum.

3. Be aware of holiday stress points.

Take a moment and think about what really stresses you out during the holidays. Does a specific family member get under your skin? Do you feel like you don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done? Do crowds and parking lots make you want to scream at the top of your lungs?

Once you’ve determined what stresses you out during the holidays, you can look for ways to make your stress more manageable. For example, if time management is an issue, then be more selective about your social engagements and get into a rhythm and flow. You don’t have to go to every party that you’ve been invited to! If other shoppers stress you out, then do a bulk of your shopping online. As for relatives, that can get tricky. You don’t want to offend them, but maybe try limiting your time with them or planning something with them after the holidays when things aren’t as hectic.

4. Only indulge in special treats.

There’s all sorts of junk food around you right now. Again, if in moderation, you can enjoy these treat. One thing that I do is completely avoid the treats that you can pick-up anywhere, like store-bought cookies, throughout the holidays. Instead, I save those calories so that I can enjoy the cookies that my mom has baked.

5. Drink in moderation.

Like food and sugar, the drinks flow constantly throughout the holidays. Again, a small glass of wine here and there won’t really hurt you. A bottle of wine in one night? That’s not a good idea at all.

By all means. Go out and have fun. But, limit your alcohol consumption. If you don’t want to look like a party pooper, then switch to something that looks like an alcoholic beverage, like sparkling water with cranberry and lime.

6. Prevent infections and watch out for food poisoning.

It’s pretty easy to catch some nasty bug or virus during the holidays with all of those handshakes, hugs, and kisses. That’s why you should always wash your hands before eating and try to keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth. If possible, try to stay away from anyone who is seek. And, if you’re seek, then stay home so that you can rest and prevent others from getting sick.

Also, be aware of food poisoning. I know my family does a buffet style dinner on Christmas Eve and if there weren’t any precautions, this could be disastrous!

Just use common sense when preparing and storing food — like washing your hands and utensils to prevent cross-contamination, thoroughly cooking food items, and refrigerating leftovers as soon as the meal is over.

7. Scan your body and mind.

Not literally!

What I mean is taking five-minutes or so to see how you’re feeling mentally and physically. If you feel overwhelmed, then close your eyes and breathe in through your nose to a count of four. Then, hold your breath for a count of two and breathe out through your mouth for a count of four. Repeat.

Does you forward, jaw, or tongue feel tight? Relax them. Then check your neck and shoulders. If they feel tight, do some stretches and keep working down your arms, chest, abdomen, and legs.

8. Prep healthy meals.

Because you’re busier than usual during the holidays, it’s tempting to make quick meals or grab take-out. The occasional pizza night isn’t the end of the world. But, when that becomes every other night, then that’s a problem.

When you have some free time, maybe like on a Sunday afternoon, prep a number of health meals and store them in the freezer. This way when you don’t have the time to make a healthy dinner for you and your family, you can just grab something out of the freezer.

9. Find ways to cut calories.

If you’re worried about calories during the holidays, then there are simple ways to cut calories, such as not putting sugar in your coffee or tea, using less sauce, reducing portion sizes, and eating more slowly.

For more ways on how you can cut lots of calories, read this article from Healthline. Not only are they easy to implement, you can use that advice all-year long.

10. Fit in exercise.

I know what you’re thinking. “Katie. I just don’t have time to exercise or visit the gym.” That’s an excuse. We can all find at least 10-minutes a day to squeeze in some sort of physical activity.

For example, start taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Do 5 to 10 minutes of jumping jacks in the morning. While waiting to cook dinner or for your next appointment, do standing push ups. After dinner, go for a walk with your family or play a game together.

11. Make time for yourself — and your precious ones.

Finally, don’t forget to make time for yourself. It’s the best way to rest and recharge during this hectic time of year. This could be going to the movies, gym, massage parlor or just curling up and reading a book. That may sound impossible, but you could schedule a night out and hire a babysitter or read when the kids are in bed.

Also don’t forget to schedule time with your “precious ones.” These are the people that you actually want to see and make you feel good, like your best friend who always puts a smile on your face. It’s also the people who could use your help, like taking an elderly family member to the store because  they can no longer drive.

Being around these people can help put things in perspective and lift our spirits when we’re feeling exhausted and stressed.

Because we’re all so busy, try to schedule these times in advance.

How do you stay healthy during the holidays? Please, let us know in the comments!

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