The holidays can be a stressful time for many.
It’s been shown that stress and anxiety in all areas of life including family, finance, and health and wellness seem to increase during this time of year. And, if 2020 continues to perform as it has been, we can only imagine what the cumulation of this year will bring.
No matter how you approach or respond to what the season brings your way, it’s good practice to prioritize your mental and physical wellness – especially this year. Below are eight health and wellness tips to help keep you strong as you navigate the remainder of 2020.
1. Find calm in what you can control. The holidays will look different this year, but there’s nothing you can do about that. Focus on what you can control, like planning a small gathering (distanced or virtual if need be), planning your menu or just planning your day with a to-do list. Practice mindfulness techniques like meditation, prayer, journaling or even just getting out in nature to support your mental clarity, which is negatively affected by stress, uncertainty and isolation.
2. Make sleep a priority. Sleep restocks, restores and prepares the body, and not getting enough can negatively impact your body physiology, mood and weight. Did you know that sleep is also the No. 1 thing you can do to improve your brain health? Try establishing a calming wind-down routine and practice consistent sleep timing, including an uninterrupted eight to nine hours of time in bed.
3. Don’t be hard on yourself. If you are trying to drop weight but succumb to a craving, it’s OK and not the end of the world. Understand that it happens to all of us – don’t beat yourself up. Self-induced stress and anxiety about food guilt negatively affects your metabolism and immune system, leading to easier weight gain. If you feel you’ve had a misstep, use it as motivation to strengthen new and improved habits. Look at this misstep as an opportunity to reconfirm your decision to improve your health, simply because you want to.
4. Build resiliency. Research shows that resiliency (the ability to bounce back from challenges) helps to build immunity and is something that can be developed. How? Experts say to identify a charismatic individual in your life who you admire and gives you joy or strength, and reconnect with them.
5. Keep moving. Or start moving at your own pace. Leading an active lifestyle is important to maintaining health and mental acuity. But don’t overdo it. Too much exercise can depress your immune system; it’s important to understand your body’s limits.
6. Review your intake. We all have different metabolisms, dietary needs and food preferences. Do you know what your body requires for optimal health? No matter your unique needs, less sugar and eating real, whole foods is a great first step to feeling better if you’re in a slump.
7. Tap into your support system. Your friends/family are likely going through similar holiday stressors – connect with them by talking through things and supporting one another’s wellness. Never have we appreciated true human connection (in any form) more than now.
8. Enter into events with a plan. If you’re still planning to attend some small gatherings this year and want to avoid the potential of overeating, consider some of these ideas: Avoid heading out on an empty stomach – eat a snack before you go. It is much easier to pass on those holiday cookies when you’re not hungry. Don’t skip meals or “count calories” during the day. Forgoing food earlier in the day makes it much more likely that you will overdo it on portion sizes and sugary foods later in the day. Bring a snack. Keep a healthy, portable snack on hand, so that you have a good option at all times.
No matter what, you deserve to feel good and to have the opportunity to cherish every little positive thing that comes your way. Cheers to you and your family’s health this holiday season.
Ashley Lucas has a doctorate in sports nutrition and chronic disease. She is also a registered dietitian nutritionist. She is the founder and owner of PHD Weight Loss and Nutrition, offering weight management and wellness services in the Four Corners. She can be reached at 764-4133.