7 ways to stay healthy this holiday season
For all the promises of comfort and joy, the holidays can take a toll on your well-being — mentally, physically and financially. While there is no way to guarantee your holiday will be merry and bright, there are steps you can take to minimize the damage.
Vicki Greenberg, a nurse practitioner, instructor for the University of Phoenix College of Nursing at the Southern California Campus, and a radio commentator on KERN-AM in Bakersfield, Calif., believes the main culprit is breaking from routines. Here, her best advice for how to stay healthy this year.
1. Learn to say “no.”
Greenberg says people often put too much pressure themselves. “The house has to be decorated perfectly. The shopping all has to be done. The presents have to be wrapped perfectly. We want to make everything perfect when nothing is perfect.” In addition, children and other family members want more of your time and sometimes trying to please them all is more than you can bear. “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself by doing everything that is asked of you.”
2. Set a budget and stick to it.
Greenberg thinks it is easier to stick to your budget if you confine yourself to using cash and debit cards, but you also have to be realistic about what you should spend on gifts. “Credit card use in December leads to debt in January,” she says.
3. Do your shopping online.
It is also a lot less tiring to shop on a laptop than to fight for a parking space, wade through the crowds, and then wait in line. Plus, by shopping online you “minimize your exposure to crowds and your risk of getting sick,” says Greenberg. “You’re not exposed to all the germs that are out there.”
4. Don’t overindulge.
While eating and drinking are a big part of holiday traditions, Greenberg believes in trying to keep to a healthy diet. It’s not easy: Our intake of fast food often goes up when we’re running around, and holiday parties are full of high-fat, high-calorie foods.
5. Beware of caffeine and alcohol.
At holiday parties, there is the almost inevitable overexposure to caffeine and alcohol, which “can cause your sleep to be impaired,” Greenberg explains. “It can also deprive you of minerals and nutrients.”
6. Get some help.
Even if you manage to avoid the mall entirely, you’ll be around a lot of people in a variety of social situations, from office parties to neighborhood gatherings. Consider getting a flu shot to protect yourself against germs. In addition, to counterbalance the effect of any unhealthy eating, Greenberg recommends taking multivitamins.
7. Be forgiving.
For all the admonitions, Greenberg also has some welcome advice: “Cut yourself some slack.”
For example, if you’re heading to a party, don’t deprive yourself completely. “Plan ahead,” she says. “Have a small healthy breakfast and a healthy lunch.” Then, if you do overindulge, don’t beat yourself up over it, Greenberg says. After all, it’s the holidays — enjoy!