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 global 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 before?
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 the raisin 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.
If your family decides to get together this holiday season, plan ahead. Schedule Covid tests in advance and isolate appropriately before coming together. Keeping rooms well ventilated is essential, so grab those festive jumpers and hats and keep the windows wide open.
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, such as a more expensive fruit that you usually skip over in favor of the old favorites.
As time has gone on, special days have spread to weeks of celebrations. You do not always have to say, 'yes' to the home-baked goodies or the extra helping. You might enjoy it in the moment, but does that genuinely outweigh how you feel when you get on the scales in January? And if the holiday season usually equals more alcohol, maybe this is the year to change that. We all need to hydrate properly, so keep that water bottle on hand! H2O has as many magical properties as gin!
Plus, treating yourself does not have to be about unhealthily attributing food and drink to reward. Why not get a professional facial instead of just putting on a face mask at home? Or perhaps the colder temperatures are affecting your hair. Now would be the perfect time to splash out on a nourishing treatment for your outside, that will also make you feel great on the inside.
The greatest indulgence we can have this year is the thing we have all missed – our loved ones. Nourishing our relationships with friends and family is so important. While restrictions are still in place, there are still things we can do to spend time together.
It is Christmas Eve, and you are still wrapping presents as midnight approaches. We have all been there but keeping ourselves going is not only detrimental to our physical health but our mental health too. As major holiday events approach, remember to pencil in time to relax and recharge, including your beauty sleep.
Ever notice how beautifully put together guests are during the holidays, while the host's hair looks like it still needs a brush? If that is you – do not let it happen this year. Make time for self-care and do one thing each day that makes you feel great, inside and out! And on days when you are hosting, focus on yourself first. Keep events simple and accept that an awful lot of best-laid plans might change at the last moment.
Keep bugs at bay
We are all doing everything we can not to get sick – or make other people ill - this year. But the cold weather brings many coughs and colds out of the woodwork. Remember to wear your mask, wash and sanitize your hands regularly, and adhere to social distancing measures.
Be light and breezy
2020 is a tumultuous year not just because of the pandemic. Difficult but vital social dialogues have arisen, a Presidential race has been on, and in many ways, divisions have become greater, not smaller because of these. Set off-limit topics for the dinner table, and focus on supporting one another, enjoy conversations about the things you have loved about this year, and perhaps even take a moment to ponder what good things might be coming up. It is not all doom and gloom, and if there was ever a time to take stock of everything we do have to appreciate, the holidays are it.
At A New Dawn Wellness Center, your health and wellbeing is our biggest priority. Please read through our Covid-19 guidelines and reschedule your appointment if you have any symptoms of fever or illness.