This time of year is a challenge for most health-conscious individuals. Post-holiday weight gain can cause hectic gym crowds, cold weather for some make outside exercise unpleasant, media is saturated with *New Year's Resolutions* and holiday-season indulgences oftentimes last longer than *just* the holidays.
To keep health on your radar despite these obstacles, we’ve put together a list of tips to help you maintain balance and avoid excess stress!
1. Savor Your Favorites
One of the best things about the holidays is all of the delicious foods! However, it can be too easy to over-do it, and then carry over bad habits through the rest of winter. When enjoying holiday foods, it is helpful to define your favorites before-hand. What foods do you look forward to every year? What foods aren’t as special to you? This mindset will help you to avoid “all-or-nothing” thinking and will help prevent you from straying too far from your health goals. When it comes to leftovers, use the same pattern of thinking.
2. Get Outside
Getting outside into the fresh air and sunshine is great for your physical health, but even more powerful for your mental health. Seasonal Affective Disorder is common in colder months where daylight hours are shorter and cold temperatures keep us inside. Fresh air and cold temperatures help to prevent illness, sunlight provides the body with Vitamin D, walking after meals improves digestion, and getting outside away from screens gives the brain a break from screens and artificial light, and will help you sleep better. If you do decide to brave the colder temperatures, make sure to dress in layers and cover ears, cheeks, and fingers to avoid injury!
One of the first things neglected between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is exercise. Many people have the mindset of, “well if I can’t stay consistent with my usual routine, I’ll just pick back up after the holidays.” This produces hectic gym crowds. To avoid overwhelming and frustrating workouts, try switching things up. Attend the gym during “off” hours (ask front-desk staff what the least-busy times are), take a month off from the gym and give home workouts a try, or try something completely new like a spin or pilates class!
4. Media Fast
Social and News Media are huge stress contributors. Individuals who regularly watch the news and check social media report higher rates of acute anxiety and depression. Additionally, the blue light that is projected from phone, computer, and television screens can cause headaches and eye-fatigue, as well as significant disruptions in sleep. Try taking a break from screens at least a few hours each day, or even challenge yourself to an entire 24-hour fast!
5. Schedule Self-Care
For good mental health and balanced stress, time alone is imperative. Even when your schedule is jam-packed, taking some alone time for rest and rejuvenation is important. Try scheduling time for self-care into your weekly schedule so that it is not forgotten, and you will notice positive changes to your daily ability to focus, energy levels, emotions, and coping skills!
6. Say No
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that it’s OK to say no! Feeling drained after weeks of holiday events? Trying to stick to New Years Resolutions? Feeling like you need some extra time alone with your family? Most everyone experiences the same feelings and will understand that you need to sometimes prioritize for the sake of your mental well-being! Setting boundaries can be challenging at first, but over time becomes easier.