The holiday season is upon us and with it comes delicious foods, office parties and spending time with family and friends. It’s also a hard time of the year to keep up with our health goals. But enjoying the season doesn’t have to mean waiting until the New Year to get back on a healthy track.
“Sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves because we’re planning celebrations, traveling or taking care of others,” said Preeti Malani, chief health officer for U-M. “But it’s important not to lose sight of our own physical, mental and emotional well-being during this time of the year.”
The following are just a few tips to keep you on the right track:
- Keep an attitude of gratitude: A full social calendar, gift-giving traditions and a long to-do list can feel overwhelming this time of year. Spend some time each day reflecting on what you’re grateful for, no matter how small, to lift your mood and keep yourself focused on what’s most important to you.
- Make time to move: Maybe you don’t have time to get to the gym, but there are lots of other ways to burn calories. If you have guests staying with you, move your smaller workout equipment (bands, small hand weights, etc.) into your bedroom so you can sneak in a quick morning workout. Or shed calories while also enjoying what the season has to offer by going for a brisk walk, or getting the kids out for a game of tag or a snowball fight.
- Maintain your peace of mind: Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings, your energy level, and your overall mood each day. It's common to experience both highs and lows of emotion throughout the year, and often especially during the winter holiday season. Simple calming strategies like slow deep belly breathing can help slow down your thoughts, relax your muscles, and refocus your mind. Give yourself permission to prioritize your self-care, including getting plenty of rest. Get more tips on maintaining your peace of mind.
- Don’t skip meals prior to holiday parties: If you do this, you’re setting yourself up to overeat. Instead, eat a small, healthy snack prior to the event so you don’t arrive extremely hungry and can more easily make healthier choices.
- Ease up on the eggnog: This time of year often includes parties and events that include alcohol. Drinking responsibly or not at all can be much easier with a plan. Try setting a limit for yourself in advance, alternate between one non-alcoholic beverage with one alcoholic one, or sip your drink slowly. If you want more tips and tools on how to practice mindful drinking this season, sign up to receive weekly “Holiday Stop and Swap” emails from the MHealthy Alcohol Management Program. Get an email every Tuesday, now through just after the New Year.
Have questions or need help staying on the right track? MHealthy, the university’s health and well-being service, offers programs and resources to help university faculty and staff maintain their health this holiday season and all year long. MHealthy supports the university’s philosophy that well-being encompasses the whole person, with many factors affecting your quality of life and playing a part in achieving balance, purpose, and vitality in your career and at home.