Enjoying a healthy and stress-free holiday season
The Christmas season is here again and usually during the holidays, families and friends come together to celebrate. There are lots of Christmas parties and social events and end of year get –togethers at work. People tend to overeat and overindulge. Indeed, it is a time to be merry, however, for some people, the Christmas period can bring on unwanted stress and anxiety and even depression. Overeating, over-drinking, excessive smoking, too much partying, emotional stress, anxiety can all take a toll on your body, especially on your heart. It’s all about finding a balance during the holiday season. Listed below are few ways you can stay healthy throughout the holiday season and into the New Year.
1. Don’t Ditch Exercise: I have noticed a pattern during the holiday season and that is that people tend to forget their exercise routines. You have worked hard all year, only to get to December and you ditch exercise! No, that should not be the case. Physical activity of any kind is one of the most important ways that you can stay healthy all year round, most especially during the holiday season. Most times, you can’t avoid all the office parties and all the small chops that come with it. Sometimes, our willpower would fail us and we would give in and have a second slice of red velvet cake. Exercising would help burn off those extra calories consumed during the holidays. Also, exercising during the holidays can keep your blood pressure in check. If exercising alone is hard, you can even organise fun family workouts to get the whole family involved. It could be as easy as organising a football match or even getting a trainer to teach aerobic classes for the family. Whatever it is, make sure you don’t ditch your exercise routine this Christmas. It helps relieve stress, improve brain and heart function and makes you feel good overall.
2. Say No to over-eating: The holiday season is usually all about family, fun and food. Lots of Food! Faced with so many different varieties of foods, it is important to practice healthy nutrition. You can indulge but do not overindulge. Overeating, especially the wrong foods, takes a toll on your digestive system and your heart. If you have a history of hypertension, please try to limit sodium and salt intake, reduce your intake of saturated fats and foods with added sugars. This means that you have to limit what you eat at parties because most of these foods are sodium-laden, high sugar, fried and fatty foods which will dramatically increase your high blood pressure. What you can do is to eat a healthy meal at home before heading out and perhaps just have fruits and vegetables at the party. And if they don’t have fruits and vegetables at the party, then don’t eat. You won’t pass out. You can still have fun at the party. Remember your heart vessels will thank you for it.
3. Remember that excessive alcohol intake can affect your health: What’s a Christmas party without enough alcohol. Right? Wrong! Yes, you can drink but please don’t drink excessively. The recommended amount of alcohol is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. This may not seem realistic for some people but it absolutely is. Prepare your mind that you would have only one glass of wine or a bottle of beer. Once you have another glass, it’s going to be hard to say NO to another glass, and by the time you know it, you’ve had one too many and your staggering out of the party. So, always have a plan and stick to it. Sip on sparking water or non-alcoholic cocktails and limit your alcohol intake. This will reduce the stress on your liver during the holidays and you’ll feel better overall.
4. Eliminate Stressors: During the Christmas season, people tend to work harder and longer hours at work or in their businesses. This may be because they are trying to meet deadlines, or increase profits or they just want to end the year with a bonus. Putting in excessive hours at work tends to increase stress hormones. These stress hormones called cortisol become elevated in the blood and they can cause hypertension, Elevated heart rate, elevated lipid and sugar levels. Also, when people are stressed, they tend to smoke and drink more. All these factors may trigger a premature heart attack in a predisposed individual. Learn to put yourself first during this season. Take some time out for yourself. Know when to stop. Instead of switching to cigarette smoking, do some yoga or get a massage. Try to identify what may be causing you to be stressed and eliminate the source of the stress.
5. Learn to deal with Depression: The holiday season can trigger depression in some people such as those without families. It may even be due to the demands of the holiday season or due to money problems or a sense of lack of fulfillment as the year comes to an end. Practicing self-care such as exercising regularly and eating healthy and maintaining regular sleep patterns may help alleviate depression. If you feel that you are overly depressed, do not be ashamed to get professional medical advice on medicines that may help deal with seasonal depression.
You deserve to enjoy the holidays to the fullest. If you follow the above tips, I’m sure you would have a healthy and stress-free holiday season.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!