Staying Healthy During the Holidays

Ten tips for feeling your best, emotionally and physically, during this busy time of year.

The holiday season means more parties, more shopping, more eating, more stress, and, of course, more colds and flu. How can you stay healthy during this busy time?

Here is a short list to keep you focused on maintaining your health while still having fun:

1. Wash your hands
This is the best thing you can do regularly to avoid getting sick. Also, use a disinfectant gel as simple and easy way to keep germs away.

2. Get a flu shot
Stop into any pharmacy today, and get yours. No excuses. If you are around people, you are susceptible. If you have children, your chances of getting sick double. Remember, prevention is the best medicine.

3. Take your vitamins
If you consistently eat healthy fruits and vegetables, you may choose not to take vitamins; however, in the winter months, adding extra C to your diet can be especially helpful.

4. Don't overeat
Gaining weight over the holidays can cause stress. Your clothes begin to tighten, and then in January you worry about how to lose the extra pounds. Instead, resolve to enjoy yourself over the holidays but be sensible. Choose your food wisely. Eat modestly. Eat slowly. Be conscious. Don't just pick.

5. Drink plenty of fluids
Water is best. It keeps your body well hydrated to flush germs out of your system. Dehydration creates a fertile environment for sickness. Watch your level of alcohol intake. Sweet drinks can add hundreds of calories to your daily intake and cause your weight to fluctuate wildly. Again, be sensible. And of course, don't drink and drive.

6. Get proper rest
Sleep is underrated, but it is so important for good health, creativity and clear thinking. When you're tired, you are not as alert and more easily agitated. To keep stress at bay, make sure you are sleeping enough. Most people require eight hours, though some need more, and some can go with a little less. This may mean saying "no" to some of your invitations, but you are the priority here. If you're exhausted, it's easier to catch a cold. Your body will have rest, even if it has to force you to get some.

7. Work within your budget
When I listen to the stories of what people spend and how they go out of their way to get every person that comes in contact with them, their children, or some member of their family some gift or tip, it makes my head swim. No one "expects" anything. If they receive something, they are thankful, but there is no reason to go into debt in order to "look good." Most of the time, the gifts are not needed anyway. Ask a teacher how many trinkets and broaches they have received over the years, and I guarantee they will roll their eyes and laugh. Give from your heart as opposed to your checkbook, and do what feels good for you. Let the rest go. By being prudent with your heard-earned money, you respect yourself and experience less stress in the New Year when you look over your bills and find you're not in loads of debt from having overspent. You might even find you have extra money to take that cruise you've always wanted.

8. Think 'Joy' this holiday season
If it's a chore, if you are miserable doing something, consider not doing it. Don't put pressure on yourself to be everything to everyone and to do everything perfectly. You think you are concerned about being judged harshly when, in fact, it is you who judge yourself harshly. No one else cares nearly as much as you worry they do. If you are enjoying yourself, then go for it. But if it brings you unhappiness, makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed, then just don't do it. Focus on pleasing you and bringing yourself joy; that will be what pleases others.

9. Find ways to de-stress

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It's essential to add little things that will help you relax during the holidays. Schedule some down time. Get a manicure. Purchase food rather than cook everything yourself. Give yourself permission to not do everything. Delegate certain tasks to others. Now is the time to be good to you. After all, the holidays are to be enjoyed. Create a wonderful holiday memory as opposed to a stressed-out one.

10. Exercise in spite of the time crunch

If you think you don't have time to work out, you are making it too hard. Fifteen minutes is all you need each day to get your body moving. Dance while listening to music, or run in place. If you have a machine you use as a clothes hanger, move the clothes, and hop on while chatting with your spouse or watching TV. A little time today will save you time later when your body starts to break down and give you pain because you lack the muscle tone or strength to do your activities of daily living. Exercise offers you clarity of thought and also increases your energy while boosting your metabolism. It strengthens your heart and helps aid digestion. It also helps you to unwind and de-stress. Exercise is not a nice-to-do; it really is a need-to-do all year round.

But most of all, have a healthy and joyful holiday season!

Julie Donley is a psychiatric nurse, success expert and author of motivational books, including Does Change have to be so H.A.R.D.? and The Journey Called YOU: A Roadmap to Self-Discovery and Acceptance. Contact Julie@JulieDonley.com for a personal consultation. To subscribe to her newsletter and for self-help resources, visit her website www.JulieDonley.com.


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