The holiday season can be a wonderful time of year, filled with family and friends. It is also the time of year when we tend to overindulge in food and drink, which can lead to weight gain and unhappiness.
The festive season is often seen as a time to take it easy and relax. However, this does not mean that you should slack off completely from the exercise that has been working for you all year long! It’s important to acknowledge that there are many ways in which your health can benefit from the Christmas season. In fact, if you’re smart about it, this can be a great opportunity to set yourself up for success in the new year!
This blog post will provide you with some tips on how to have a healthy Christmas season without losing out on all the fun!
Take time to enjoy the season and not feel pressured
The worst thing you can do for yourself is be really strict during the holidays. It is much better to aim for balance in everything you do. For example if you are attending a few social events over the festive period, try to ensure that you balance out the naughtier foods with eating plenty of vegetables and balance out drinking moderate amounts of alcohol with drinking plenty of water. Living in a healthy way does not need to necessarily be restrictive and you can still enjoy the foods and drinks you like, just with a bit of considered consumption.
Spend time with loved ones
Spending time with those you love (be it friends or family) is something that can very much help you stay healthy and happy. A psychologist called Susan Pinker states that face-to-face contact stimulates neurotransmitters which help to balance our reactions to anxiety and stress. She says that even shaking hands is enough to release oxytocin (the love hormone). Socialising as a whole also releases dopamine which helps us feel happier and reduces pain.
You know I couldn’t write a blog post without suggesting that you do some exercise. It has so many merits, especially around this time of year. If you are prone to stress because of the various pressures and obligations around Christmas, then a regular exercise routine is a great way of releasing that stress and helping you feel calmer and more balanced. Exercise is also a great way to help balance out the more indulgent foods at this time of year. Do try to use a little self-control in your food choices though because a 30 minute run or an hour of Pilates will unfortunately not make up for eating multiple slices of yule log that day!
Eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables
Luckily Christmas dinner is invariably full of healthy vegetables! One of the easiest things you can do to help keep your diet slightly more on the healthy side is filling half your plate with veg (not including potatoes or other starchy veg!). This means regardless of anything else, you will be consuming a good amount of nutrients and fibre. It will also keep you feeling more satisfied and full, so there will be slightly less room for treats (and again I’m not telling you not to eat treats but just trying to help you keep a balanced approach). Soup is another great option for the festive season, so why don’t you use some of those leftover vegetables to make yourself a wholesome winter soup?
Drink plenty of water
Drinking lots of water is always a good idea, the benefits can include more energy, less lethargy, less food cravings and better skin. But drinking enough water in the winter time, especially during the festive season is even more important. Our skin gets dry quickly because of indoor heating and cool weather outside and we become more dehydrated generally because we tend to drink more alcohol at this time of year. Enough water will help you stay hydrated and might even help you ward off that post Christmas party hangover!).
Get enough sleep
We all know that getting enough sleep is a good thing but like most mammals, we are designed to want more rest during the shorter days (many of us would like a full on hibernation but extra rest is a good start!). If you have time off during the festive break, it is a great time to let yourself get some extra sleep, or simply destress, if you can. I don’t necessarily mean spending all your time collapsed on the sofa watching Christmas TV (though a bit of that can be nice too) but the odd nap and early night will do you the world of good and set you off in good stead for a bright new year ahead.
Reduce stress by planning ahead
A healthy, balanced mind is as important as a healthy body and a great way to stay on top of stress during the festive season is by getting organised! Buying presents in advance is one thing (or even exchanging standard presents for experience vouchers is even more sustainable (ask me about my Pilates gift vouchers) and less stressful but there are other things you can do to help get organised. If you are hosting any events over the Christmas period, plan what you will be making to eat, in advance and buy as much as you can ahead of the day or order shopping for collection near the day, to save the last minute hassle of having to make sure you have everything you need. Finding meals that you can cook elements of ahead of time also makes life much easier. On the day, make a plan for when all the food has to be put on, so that nothing will be under or over cooked and you can relax with a nice drink and a chat with the guests. There are many roast dinner cooking guides online if you find it a bit too challenging to create your own.
The festive season can be a stressful time of year, with so many expectations and obligations. I hope these tips will help you to enjoy this most wonderful time of the year without feeling pressured or completely sluggish and unhealthy by the end of it. Whether you’re spending Christmas alone in your pyjamas at home or spending it with lots of family, we want to remind you that there is no right way to have a happy and healthy festive season – just do what feels good for YOU! If you are short of gift ideas, I offer Pilates classes and 1-2-1 gift vouchers. Simply email me on firstname.lastname@example.org to order. Thank you.