Staying Healthy Through the Holidays and New Year

Shopping, wrapping, baking, traveling, decorating…for some of us, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. For others, the holidays mean total chaos and stress.

Either way, this tends to be a busy time of year and we often forget a very important part of life: self-care. We tend to neglect our bodies by working extra hours, over-indulging, not sleeping well and stressing about finances, gift giving, throwing the perfect holiday gathering, etc. Self-care can mean many things: maintaining good sleep habits, meditation, getting outside for some fresh air, exercising, or getting a massage or an acupuncture treatment!

Here are some great tips from Dr. Paula Bloom, psychologist on self-care preservation through the holiday season:

  1. Take care of yourself. Just because you are going to parties and gatherings it doesn’t mean that you have to throw all healthy behaviors out the window. Eating a healthy meal prior to going to an event can help you be less tempted to eat foods that make you feel less energetic. Stay consistent with your exercise schedule and sleep patterns (assuming they are healthy ones!)
  2. Evaluate “obligations.” Just because it is something you have always done or a place you have always gone to doesn’t mean you have to do it this year. It is okay to say no. “No.” can actually be a complete sentence. Consider it part of your preventative health (mental and physical) care plan.
  3. Spirituality. Focus on the spiritual aspects of the holidays versus the commercial ones. What do you want the holidays to mean?
  4. Family. There is a lot of pressure (just watch any hour of tv with commercials during this time) to spend time with family, gathered around a lovely table, smiling, and sharing warm memories! Not everyone has those kinds of family experiences and it is okay. Spend time with people you enjoy. Remember that friends can be the family you choose.
  5. Create your own traditions that work for you! It may be going away during the holidays or spending time volunteering to help others. I know someone who volunteers to provide coverage at the hospital during the holidays. She enjoys being able to help her colleagues who are then very grateful. This gives her a sense of purpose, a way to help patients during this time and an excuse to not have to attend stressful gatherings.

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