The holiday season is our favorite time of the year. But alongside the festive season's images of merriment, togetherness, and all-out extravagance, there's stress, busyness, and a little slice of gluttonous regret.
We may all hope that our celebrations will be the picture-perfect, greeting card dream, but the reality of the holidays usually ends up being something entirely different. For a time of year that is supposed to represent love and care, it can be all too easy to slip into bad habits, to stop speaking up when we need help, and find it even harder to say no, whether to an event or a second helping of dessert.
Of course, in regular times, we are well aware of this and view January 1st as the time to put the indulgence (and regret!) of our festivities to bed. But, in the light of the recent pandemic, being able to keep ourselves and our families healthy through the holidays has never been more critical. How many of us are already feeling more holiday stress than ever beore?
Holiday health is not merely about making great food choices; it is about managing family expectations, making sure deadlines are not left hanging at work, and that you can still pay your bills on time. And often, it comes down to making sure everyone else is happy instead of focusing on our own needs. But there is such folly in prioritizing everything else during a period which should be summed up in one wonderful word: joy.
Here are our best tips for keeping yourself healthy during the holidays:
Prioritize your emotional wellbeing
As the holidays approach and the number of Coronavirus cases surge, celebrations are having to adapt. But perhaps that is a good thing. This year we have the chance to reset our expectations of ourselves and our loved ones. In short, we need to take the pressure off and get back to basics.
If conversations about who is doing what, when, and where, have already begun - and they are bringing up feelings of dread - stop. Take a minute for yourself and practice mindfulness in the way that works for you. Whether you want to try meditation, finally read the book you've had on your nightstand for months, or take your furry friend for a walk, remember to tell yourself that you matter and how you're feeling matters.
Stress most obviously affects our mental health, but it also majorly impacts our physical health. Not only does it place us more at risk of major illnesses like heart disease, stomach ulcers, and depression, but it can also increase our likelihood to catch colds and viruses that thrive in winter. It is also a myth that stress causes weight loss as it is just as likely to cause weight gain, which is already a concern during this period.
Instead, find ways to stay present, not sweat the small stuff, and enjoy the moments that we can share.
Share the load
In case you need it, this is your daily reminder that: You Do Not Have to Do Everything for Everyone. Delegate. And then delegate again. The holidays should never fall on one person's shoulders. If someone in your life is making you feel like their festive satisfaction lies solely with you, take a deep breath and ask them to contribute in the way that would be most helpful for you. If they say no, you do not have to accommodate unreasonable requests. Whether it is to protect yourself financially, physically, or to give yourself a break, Christmas is a time when 'no' as a complete sentence can come into play.
If tradition is your enemy here, well, we are not sure that there will ever be a better time to make new ones. You are entitled to enjoy every celebration too. Think about what you would like to take the time to do for yourself and your loved ones as we close out the year.
Take the emphasis off food and limit indulgences
Find the right balance for you between treating yourself (which is always ok, but especially so during the holidays) and not continually indulging in excess. Treating yourself can also be about making an effort to eat and drink more of the healthy things you love