There are just as many ways to go right with your health during the holidays as there are ways to go wrong, so let’s focus on the positive and get cracking:
1. Manage Stress
Most people get more invitations to parties and dinners during this time of year. You may also get tasked with extra duties at home or socially. “Would you mind organizing a coat drive,” or, “Could you please bring an extra dish to the potluck?” My answer is, remember to mind your own energy levels and if you are feeling overwhelmed, learn to say no as often as yes. Be mindful about who you spend time with, where and when and only choose what brings you joy and happiness. That’s what the season is about. Resist the temptation to overschedule. You simply cannot be everything to everyone. If it’s stressing you out and you have a choice, choose to drop that item, or ask for help with it.
2. Sleep Hygiene
That’s an odd phrase you may not have heard and it means the things you do to ensure a peaceful, restful night of sleep. Here are some suggestions that work well: go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time, even on weekends and vacations. If you get less than 8 hours of sleep you are cheating your body and you’re more susceptible to fatigue, accidents, weight gain, pain, disease and a host of other nasties. Make sleep a priority!
Studies show that optimal sleep is between 10 PM and 6:00 or 7:00 AM. Turn off all screens (TV, computer, Kindle, video game) one hour before bed, stop eating and drinking 2-3 hours before bed, dim the lights an hour before bed, and consider a calming ritual before bedtime, like reading, meditating, praying, taking a warm bath or shower, or doing gentle yoga stretches. You’ll feel so much better when you get enough sleep, especially if you are dealing with a chronic condition, like fibromyalgia.
This is the time of year that it seems EVERYONE is out to sabotage your diet! To stay on track try a technique called “crowding out.” That means eat an abundance of healthy, nutrient-dense food, especially vegetables and fruits, and you will be less likely to dive in when the dessert tray gets passed. With this in mind, never go to a party hungry. Eat a light meal so that it’s not a seek and destroy mission when you get there.
Up your intake of water and keep an eye on sugar and anything that breaks down into sugar, like starchy carbs, refined flour, alcohol, and high glycemic dried fruit. Allow yourself a few special treats, just be sure it’s not an all-out, free-for-all from Halloween ‘til the ball drops in Times Square. If you have food allergies or intolerances be aware that this time of year is loaded with treats that may contain one of your triggers, like gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, and eggs.
Be careful to keep daily movement as part of your routine. It’s easy to “forget” or get “too busy” to work out for weeks, which turns into months and leads to problems.
5. Germ control
Obviously, avoid being near anyone contagious, if possible. Some other tips: frequent, thorough hand washing, cover sneezes/coughs, work from home, take your vitamins, especially vitamin C, frequently wipe down light switches, doorknobs, cell phone, and keyboard with anti-bacterial wipes, and use homeopathic supplements, like Zicam, at the first sign of illness.
Bonus tip: always carry a pen and only use your pen when signing papers in the office, at the bank, signing in at a doctor’s office, at restaurants or in a store when paying with credit card. Community pen equals community germs!
What tips can you share that have helped you stay healthy during the holidays?