It’s the holiday season once again. A popular song calls it, “the most wonderful time of the year.” For some, hymns such as, O Come All Ye Faithful, and Silent Night, Holy Night come to mind. And for others it is a time to “eat, drink and be merry”. While the holidays should be a joyful time, some may find themselves overindulging with food and festivities. This can lead to starting off the new year in an unhealthy way. Maintaining good habits through the holidays may insure that you enter the new year with greater health and wellbeing. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Practice pandemic prudence
The holidays are a special time for family and friends to gather and enjoy social interaction and good food. One year ago holiday plans for many were abolished as the coronavirus was raging, and social distancing was order of the day. Regardless of which side of the “pandemic fence” you may stand, the reality is that we are still faced with a virus that has caused mild to very severe illness for some and death for others. Following seemingly never-ending health guidelines for more than a year-and-a-half have been wearying, but with new variants continuing to emerge, this may not be the time to “throw caution to the wind”. Though things have opened up greatly since last year, it probably would be wise to exercise prudence when it comes to holiday gatherings. Perhaps a health “check-in” of your own devising, with loved ones, may go a long way to avoiding illness, or worse.
- Reduce sugar intake
Holiday sweets can be a treat. However, consuming high amounts of sugary foods weakens the immune system making the body more susceptible to illness caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi. Loading up on the “sweets” can also increase appetite, add weight to the body, and elevate cholesterol. (See post, 7 Reasons to Limit Your Sugar Intake).
- Avoid alcohol consumption
Alcoholic beverages tend to flow more freely during the holidays. Even people who hardly drink may “loosen up” during this time of year. But is this a good idea? Studies have shown that alcohol is an immunosuppressant, and people who drink alcohol have weakened immune systems,. This can lead to being more prone to illness and having a slower recovery time. This is no time for a weakened immune response. There are healthier ways to get a little “holiday cheer.”
- Get quality sleep
Holiday meets and treats can rob you of good rest. It can be tempting to stay up late talking and have another snack, but resisting that urge and getting your rest will be better for your body and mind. Adequate sleep is important for a well-functioning immune system. Research shows that good quality sleep helps your body to fight off illnesses, including infections such as viruses. Ongoing lack of sleep changes the way your immune cells work and reduces their effectiveness in fighting off disease. An important part of keeping your immune system strong and working well is to get a good night’s sleep. (See post, 5 Reasons You Need a Good Night’s Sleep.)
- Adopt Year-end Resolutions
Oftentimes people tend to “live it up” during the holidays and then start off the new year “fresh” with resolutions. Many will center their attention on renewed health goals in an effort to enjoy greater wellness. But why wait? Why not start now with your renewed commitment to a healthier life? By initiating year-end resolutions you can engage in habits that will allow you to have a strong year-end finish. This will enable you to soar into the new year with favorable momentum and help you to sustain healthy lifestyle habits. (See post, 8 Tips for Healthier Living).
Instead of being a time when healthy habits are put on the shelf, the holidays can be a time to enjoy the company of family, and friends in healthier, more wholesome ways. This time of year can become more meaningful by reflecting on themes such as love, joy, peace and good will to all and the reason why we may experience these as told in the gospels of Matthew, chapters 1 and 2, Luke, chapters 1 and 2. Healthy Holidays!
Photo by: Nicole Michalou