It’s that time of year where everyone around you seems to be getting sick. While the holidays are a fun time of year it’s also important to remember to take care of yourself so you don’t get sick, that means making sure you get plenty of rest, eating a healthy and well rounded diet and managing stress levels. While it may seem impossible to take some time to focus on yourself and your health during a season that’s all about giving, its absolutely essential in order to stay healthy and to enjoy this time of the year with loved ones.
We asked for some input from different experts on what they recommend during the holidays to stay healthy and enjoy the holidays. Below are five key points to remember in the weeks ahead:
1. Wash your hands: This might seem obvious and something we all learned in elementary school but it’s worth repeating. Think of all the travel we do during the holidays by trains, planes and buses, and all of the different public places we go and encounter like mall escalators, door knobs, restaurants and so on. All of these places are crawling with germs from all those sick people. “Make sure you wash your hands frequently, with warm water and soap, for a minimum of 20 seconds. About how long it takes you to sing the “ABC” song,” explains Dr. Joel Blass, Medical Director at Cassena Care.
2. Keep healthy snacks on hand: It goes without saying that at some point during the holidays you’re going to indulge in a treat or two and that’s OK, after all it’s the holidays! You want to try and maintain your regular healthy eating habits as much as possible then treat yourself occasionally to your favorite festive holiday treats, whether its dessert or a glass of eggnog. “Every meal does not have to be a holiday dinner. There will be more than enough unhealthy choices so when you can – load up on the health stuff,” explains Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and Professor of Psychology. To help avoid temptation, keep healthy snacks on hand like fruit, popcorn, nuts or Greek yogurt.
3. Stay active: It’s hard to get to the gym during the holidays when it seems like you have a million things to do and family and friends to hang out with, but it’s important to find some way to stay active, even if it’s not your usual workout. Go for a walk with a family member, take a hike with friends, go sleigh riding, do something! According to Dr. Durvasula, staying active during the holidays will set you up for success in the New Year. “Adherence to routines can go a long way to set the tone for a healthy new year and not letting the holidays wear you down.”
4. Get plenty of rest: While it may seem like you’ll get more rest since you have all that time off from work during the holidays, we all know that’s not true. Travel, holiday parties and sleeping in uncomfortable guest beds all puts a damper on a good nights rest. It’s important to get at least a full eight hours of sleep each night to stay healthy. Dr. Bass adds, “Getting enough rest at night or during the day will help strengthen your immune system.”
5. Don’t stress! You have commitments to manage, parties to plan and gifts to purchase; it’s hard to find a balance in managing your time and your bank account. Too much stress can wear down your immune system however, so it’s important to find ways to manage any stress you have. Take some time for yourself, even if its just five minutes. “When you shower, rather than thinking about the plan for the day, just focus on your breath. When driving, really focus on the road, on the wheel in your hands, on your foot on the pedal. Training your brain to stay present, even in minor moments such as these, can help us conserve our energy and our sanity,” explains Kristin Deiss Reiki Master Practitioner, Teacher Deiss Energy Work.
To add to that, Dr. Durvasula says its important not to constantly strive for perfection. “Lower those expectations – the holidays, especially in the age of social media, can turn into a keeping up with the Joneses rather than an enjoyment of what matters. A sloppy holiday and less than perfect tree is ok.”