Tips for Healthy Holidays Part 1: 3 Ways to Maintain Good Habits

Whether you’re spending the holidays with family, friends, or taking some time for yourself, it can be a hard season to maintain healthy habits. Holiday events can throw off your routine, making it hard to fit in regular exercise, and healthy eating tends to go out the window. The stress of the holidays can do a number on your health, and a lack of healthy habits only makes it worse.

Holidays don’t have to wreck your health, and you don’t need to wait until the New Year to implement healthy habits. You can thrive and enjoy a healthy lifestyle, even during the holiday season.

1. Holidays and Fitness: Healthy Eating Has Its Benefits

A healthy diet is good for much more than losing weight. Eating healthy can go a long way toward improving your fitness, energy and overall wellness. Along with setting realistic goals for weight maintenance during the holidays, focus on eating to reduce stress and improve your energy. Greens like spinach and broccoli contain important vitamins, and eating salmon, mushrooms, or whole eggs can help you get needed vitamin D. Avoid overconsuming sugar and alcohol, which can increase stress and dampen your immune system, putting you at risk for seasonal colds and flu. Check out healthy holiday recipes online for creative ideas on how to enjoy holiday food without feeling under the weather later.

2. Manage Your Holiday Stress with these Techniques

Are holidays the most stressful time of the year at your house? Many people feel Christmas is stressful for any number of reasons. Seasonal busyness, unpleasant memories, and trying to fit in healthy habits can make the stress of the holidays worse. However, stress itself can have a profoundly negative impact on your health. As you make plans to care for your health during the holiday season, make sure easing stress is at the top of the list.

First, take stock of the external stressors in your life. Are there any you can remove? Think about all the holiday events you have lined up. Do you need to go to all of them? Which ones are truly meaningful for you, your family, and your friends? Maybe decorating for Christmas is driving you crazy. Can you try a small artificial Christmas tree instead of a big live one? Or check out some ideas for minimalist Christmas trees. Remember, your holiday traditions are there to serve you — not the other way around!

Some holiday stressors, however, aren’t adjustable. Whether it’s anticipated drama with family or extra responsibilities at work during a very busy season, you may not be able to avoid the stress of the holidays. However, you can manage your own response to stress. A regular exercise routine is more important than ever during this stressful period — exercise can act as a powerful stress reliever helping to reduce the negative effects of stress. A yoga routine can also provide stress relief — look for beginning yoga on YouTube, or attend a yoga class for beginners.

Managing stress is vital to protecting your health during the holidays, so make it a priority as you pursue healthy habits during this season.

3. How Do You Manage Mental Health During the Holidays?

Even surrounded by joyful carols, many suffer from a lower level of mental health during the holidays. Whether it’s from the stress of holidays, bad memories, or even a lack of sunlight, the “holiday blues” can quickly take over your holiday season and even become a serious issue.

But mental health matters, especially during the holidays. Consider making outdoor exercise — or exercise in a well-lit indoor area — a non-negotiable part of your daily routine. This will help combat stress and the seasonal lack of sunlight. Make time to enjoy the last of the fall colors with friends or family at a local park or take a short walk after work to get fresh air and sunshine. 

Focus on eating a healthy, balanced diet and limiting sugar, which can make mental health struggles worse. However, make sure to keep the focus on your own wellness rather than a number on the scale. Set realistic goals for weight maintenance during this season. Don’t become so focused on avoiding sugar or losing weight that you can’t enjoy Grandma’s pie or your best friend’s baking. Consider focusing on maintenance, rather than weight loss, during this season. If you’re determined to begin or to continue losing weight and aren’t sure how to set realistic goals for weight maintenance during the holiday season, the registered dieticians at our Loudoun fitness club can help equip you to start a weight loss journey.

If you expect the holidays this year to be particularly difficult for you, consider making an appointment with a therapist at a local mental health center. Another idea is to identify some trusted friends or family members you can rely on for support. It’s important to give yourself grace, especially during the holidays. Don’t set unrealistic expectations on yourself or others.  Remember that your healthy habits are there for your wellbeing, and no one is expecting perfection.

Have a Happy (and Healthy) Holiday with Family

If you want to cultivate a healthy lifestyle this holiday season, but you’re not sure where to start, OAK Health Club of Ashburn in Virginia is here to help. We offer personalized experiences through a combination of fitness, nutrition, recovery, and community. You’ll feel healthy, capable, and empowered on your path to optimal health and wellness — even during the holiday season. Pick a membership offer or call us for more information at 1-571-462-6542. You’re always invited to schedule a tour and see what OAK Health Club has to offer!

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