The holiday season is officially here! Bring on the holly jolly festivities and family events – I feel like this year is flying by, so I’m trying to savor it all. It’s the time for parties and merry making, but it can also be a time of increased stress. It’s party planning, elaborate meals, and it’s easy to lose track of any health or fitness goals. Holiday preparations and stress can take a toll on your health, but focusing on staying healthy throughout the season can help you enjoy the holidays MORE. In today’s post, I’m sharing some of my top tips for maintaining a balanced perspective and taking care of yourself during the hustle and bustle of this time of year.
How To Stay Healthy During The Holidays
I think it’s easy to forget to drink water during the colder months, so you have to constantly remind yourself to stay hydrated. Aim for around 11 glasses of water, and if you’re active, around 96oz. Staying hydrated helps with digestion, skin, nutrient absorption, fitness performance, hormone function, energy, mood, SO many things. Some of the things that I do: carry a water bottle with me 24/7, drink a large glass of water first thing in the am, and have a water “trigger” – something I do each day that reminds me to drink a bottle of water. For me, it’s when Maisey and I go for a morning walk. I bring a large bottle with me and finish it by the time we get home.
Tips for managing stress
The holidays are a lovely season, but can also be a bit stressful with nonstop activities, kid activities, gifts, food preparation, party prep, and potentially stressful interactions. To manage stress, I make a to-do list each day and prioritize each item on the list. Sometimes the list goes into the next day, but I take care of the most important things first. I also try to make meditation more of a regular habit during the holiday season. My tips for starting a meditation practice are here! I also avoid interactions that I know may be negative or stressful. One of the beautiful things about being an adult is that you have more control over the types of people you surround yourself with. If I know that being around a certain person is upsetting to me, I don’t go.
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Making time for exercise
Exercise is a huge mood booster and stress reliever for me, so I stick with my workout routine during the holiday season, even though things are a bit busier than usual. Break your workout into smaller chunks throughout the day, or try some online options so you don’t have to commute. Have a go-to bodyweight circuit you can do on the busy days, like 3 rounds of: squats, push-ups, burpees, triceps dips, lunges, and plank.
Instead of focusing on the amount of time you have to workout, try to make the time you have count. Choose movements that make you feel good, like restorative yoga, Pilates, or barre, especially if you know you’re stressed and cortisol is higher.
Making healthy food choices
During the holidays, I enjoy all of the delicious food we don’t get to have the rest of the year, but I also try to remember how certain foods make me feel. An onslaught of sugar tastes delicious going down, but sometimes it’s not worth feeling like a nap 30 minutes later. (Sometimes it is worth it!)
When I know we’ll be enjoying more rich foods and cocktails, I try to make healthy choices and eat more nutrient-dense meals during the day. This way, I don’t show up to the event on an empty stomach, and I know that I’ve at least consumed fruits and vegetables at some point during the day. 😉 Focus on food choices that energize you and fill you with nutrients, with room for the soul-hugging party foods in there, too. During the holidays, it can also be able to forget to eat, so make sure you’re fueling yourself with everything you have going on.
This can be a tricky one if you’re super busy, but taking time to eat your food (instead of cramming it into your face to move on with the day) will make a difference in nutrient absorption, digestion, and fullness levels. Take some time to sit down with your meal distraction-free, whether it’s on your lunch break or home with the family. (This one has always been a hard one for me – I used to eat all of my meals standing over the sink – but it feels so nice to sit down and enjoy a meal.)
This can be a huge help over the holiday season, especially if you’re the type of person who does it all. I’ve realized over time, that it’s ok to ask for help, especially from your partner, who may want to help but not sure how or what you need. See if you can ask your family to help with to-dos, like wrapping gifts, tidying their rooms (the girls are awesome at cleaning the playroom!) or other small chores, post office or grocery store runs, etc. I’m also a believer in splurging for convenience if you’re in a pinch, like grocery delivery (the best ever!!!) or buying some pre-made options (like cheese boards that are assembled and ready to go).
Getting enough sleep
It’s tempting to stay up late to finish all of the extra things you need to do, but I try to treat sleep like it’s my job, especially for the immune boosting benefits. It has such an impact on mood, hormone function, hunger levels, immune system function, fitness recovery, brain health, energy levels, etc. Have a solid bedtime routine each night and set an alarm when it’s time to send yourself to bed. My bedtime routine: skincare, magnesium oil, read a book, spray my pillow with this gorgeous spray, and lights out.
Taking your supplements
Please keep in mind that I’m not a medical professional, and if you need supplement and medical advice, reach out to your doctor. I think it’s important to keep this one on the list because the holidays are an easy time to forget taking vitamins and supplements. Every day, I have mine with breakfast, and if I forget them… I figure it out pretty quickly lol. I also think it can make a huge difference in fighting off winter colds and other illness during flu season.
Focusing on family and fun more than food
This is the #1 thing on this list! When you’re at events with your family and friends, take a moment to really soak in and enjoy the people around you. Do not sit there and stress about mashed potato vs. sweet potato, the carbs in the green bean casserole, if you’re eating too much sugar, if you’re going “over on your calories.” Enjoy these precious moments.
The holidays are such a magical time, and now that we’ve lost some close family members, it’s made me even more cognizant of the beautiful memories and holidays we’ve enjoyed with them.
Making self-care a priority
While you’re taking care of everyone else, it can be very easy to forget yourself and the habits you know make you feel good. While it might not be the time to blitz out for a spa day or yoga retreat (uhh that sounds amazing right about now), find little pockets of self care in your day. Maybe it’s a walk with the dog, a 5-minute meditation, a call with a good friend, long bath, relaxation in the sauna blanket (my fave ever), or something that you personally love that recharges you.
Focus on maintaining consistency – not building
This is truly how you stay healthy during the holiday season. With everything going on, I don’t recommend focusing on new fitness goals, weight loss efforts, or PRs during the month of December. Instead, focus on general movement, nutrition that energizes you, and consistency, not building.
So tell me, friends: what are your tips for staying healthy over the holidays? What’s a small act of self care that you do for yourself?