According to recent studies by the New England Journal of Medicine, the average person gains about one pound per holiday season. How's that for a fun first fact?
If you're reading this, it's safe to assume you're part of the collective that aspires to look and feel a bit better this time around. So, welcome. That's our story too. Because it turns out, no matter how hard we wish and how bad we hope, we just can't will ourselves into better health. Especially this time of year. Because turkey and gravy and pie and stuffing and Irish coffees and...well, you get the point.
Would it help if we shared some basic tips for holiday health?
For starters, let's recognize that everything in the body is more or less connected. What you put in impacts your external results and the energy you have available to exert yourself.
And with cooler temperatures, there's a strong chance flu bugs and colds will make their way through your house, neighborhood, and workplaces. If you get sick or your immune system is compromised, there's a strong chance your other fitness goals will also slide.
Lastly, it's important to remember that total wellness also includes the mind. A strong mind and a healthy self-image can be a complete game-changer.
All that to say, here are some simple ways to maintain mental and physical health through the holidays.
- Drink fancy mocktails - Hydration is one of the most paramount aspects of health. It impacts so many processes. It supports healthy, vibrant skin. So, rather than leaning on artificial or alcoholic options this holiday season, chop up your favorite fruits, throw them in a pitcher and fill the entire thing with ice and water (or sparkling water).
Sleep like your health depends on it - 8 hours per night, don't let yourself or your schedule say otherwise.
- Make a habit of sanitization - Keep your hands, your keys, your doors and your devices nice and spiffy to limit the spread of pesky germs.
- Practice self-affirmation - While you're tackling holiday shopping for others, set aside time to gift yourself words of praise and encouragement. Take note of the progress you've made and the quality habits you're forming. Receive the present of self-love.
- Use YouTube - There's a whole world of home workouts, flexibility, mobility, and meditation programs readily available on the web. Whatever your fancy, do a quick search for "beginner ____ home workouts" and chances are you'll find an expert who will walk you through a quality routine in 5, 10, 15, 30 or even hour-long increments. No membership fee. No imposter syndrome or social anxiety. No pressure. So there are no excuses. Find a time that works for you and stay consistent. Shoot for 3-5 days per week and grow from there.
- Breathe through the craziness - Surely a few days or weeks this time of year will be absolutely bonkers. They always are. Plans change, parties stack up, company knocks on the door. But you always have the option to breathe. Inhale energy and exhale stress. Don't bottle it up. It's not just a nice word - there are apps and videos and training tutorials on mindful breathing and different practices that are aimed at helping you maintain your composure and clarity. Try them out!
- Embrace the marathon, not the sprint - Use the holidays to solidify good habits. But the shift from beginner to advanced comes when you carry on your learnings and progress all throughout the year. Train your brain to see wellness as a year-round, lifelong priority. It takes time, but you've got it in you!