Happy Holidays! It’s such a joyous time of year isn’t it? Or at least it’s supposed to be. Sometimes what should be a happy, fun time with your family and friends turns into a very stressful one.
Have you ever heard of “holiday heart” syndrome? It’s an actual diagnosed condition! It happens when people who are otherwise healthy have an irregular heartbeat and occurs most often during the holiday season because of overeating, too much alcohol, too much caffeine, dehydration, lack of sleep, and stress.
As with the rest of the year, moderation and pacing yourself is key to staying healthy this holiday season. Here are some tips that can help:
- Stay active. It’s tougher with all that’s going on but here are a few simple little ways to keep the movement going – build movement into your holiday activities. Make it a tradition to head out for a walk as a family after Christmas dinner, take the family skiing on Boxing Day, have a family dance party on New Year’s Eve, go out toboganning on New Year’s Day, Make it a whole family fun activity and you’re more likely to do it!
- Watch what you’re eating. Survey what’s there and make a plan of what you want the most and skip the rest. Be careful with your portion control. A smaller plate can help here. Start small. Take a break and consider if you’re really hungry enough for more before going back for seconds. Try to balance out the decadent holiday food by really focusing on much healthier food the rest of the time. Don’t go to a holiday party hungry or you’ll be more inclined to overeat. Have a small healthy snack ahead of time to help boost your self-control at the party. Don’t station yourself near the food. Try to do your socializing away from it so you have to make a conscious effort to go get more.
- Be careful about how much alcohol you are consuming. Drinking too much puts a strain on your organs. Alternate with non-alcoholic drinks, especially water which will help counteract the dehydrating nature of the alcohol. Please, please, please don’t drink and drive. My personal rule is that I don’t even drive after only one drink because I’m afraid that it can be a slippery slope there of “well I’ve only had X number of drinks and I’m just fine”.
- Practice good hygiene. It’s still cold and flu season. One year we had a big extended family Christmas that involved spreading the flu from one person to the next and included a Christmas Day trip to the ER. Trust me – cover your mouth, wash your hands, disinfect surfaces that a lot of people come into contact with like the TV remote, doorknobs, light switches, and so on.
- Get enough sleep. This advice comes from a woman who once stayed up until 5 am assembling one of my daughter’s gifts only to have her wake us up at 6 yelling that Santa had been there! Plan ahead, don’t try to do it all, delegate what you can, cross some things off your list, and schedule an adequate amount of sleep just as you would with anything else that’s important.
- Set a budget. What does that have to do with healthy living? Overspending is stressful and not what the holiday is all about. Set a budget that you can easily afford and live within it.
- Let it go. Getting together with family is lovely but it can be another source of stress. Sometimes those we love the most are the ones who can press our buttons the best. Let it go, don’t overreact, walk away and have some quiet time to yourself if you need to. Have some techniques in your back pocket to use during stressful times – breathing exercises, using essential oils, meditation, prayer, whatever works for you. My sister used to have this balm that she would rub on her temples that helped her feel calmer in stressful situations.
- See a doctor if you need to. Someone I know and love started exhibiting the symptoms of a stroke on Christmas Eve last year. Whether he just didn’t want to “spoil the holidays” for everyone else or what, he didn’t seek medical treatment until Boxing Day. It would have spoiled our holidays more for him to die (yeah it’s blunt but it’s true). Not sure if you should see a doctor? Better safe than sorry!
Do you have more tips for having a healthy holiday? Share them in the comments below.