Staying Healthy During The Holidays
Well, this holiday season is like no other we have experienced in our lifetime. We may have to give up a lot, but let us not give up on staying healthy. Of Course, the first thing that comes to mind is the COVID-19 safety measures I feel we should follow.
We also need to beware of mental health issues like stress and depression.
Exercise will always be important along with eating right and alcohol consumption.
Just hope I am not being negative. These are positive healthy steps we need to keep in mind
- a person who lives alone can join another family’s bubble, but it must always be the same bubble;
- a single-parent family with one or more minor children can join another family’s bubble, but it must always be the same bubble;
- a person who lives with his or her minor or adult dependent children and is a member of a couple with someone who does not live with them may have that other member and his or her dependent children visit them inside his or her private residence.
Gatherings of no more than six people will be permitted in regions and areas located in alert (orange) zones. For these regions, it is recommended to do voluntary confinement, one week before and one week after the time of the gatherings.
Stress and depression will rise as we approach the holidays, experts say. Find out how to ease some of the pressure and still enjoy the festivities.
This is an unfortunate part of the holiday season. Many people including myself may feel lonely during this time of the year. There are the isolation and gathering rules that have been set in place for 2020.
According to a survey conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 64% of people with mental illness report holidays make their conditions worse.“While many see the holidays as a joyous time, some people experience loneliness, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and other issues that lead to an increase in stress and depression,” says Dr. Derek Richards, Chief Science Officer at SilverCloud Health.
In addition, the jump in COVID-19 cases as well as the general fear of spreading infection has led to a 2020 holiday season that promises to be more socially-isolated than in prior years. Instead of sharing a meal around the table and traveling to see friends and family, many in-person gatherings and travel have been canceled or dramatically changed. For all of these reasons, it’s really important to focus on taking care of your mental health needs this holiday season.
Relax and recharge.
Self-care is really important in dealing with the stresses this year. Give yourself permission to take time to do activities that you want to do, and help you feel peaceful and refreshed. During this holiday season, spending 30 minutes reading a book or taking a bubble bath is not a luxury; rather, it may be a necessity for your mental health.
Even 10 minutes of aerobic exercise can improve your feelings of happiness, according to research. While you can work out at home or at the gym, exercising outdoors provides additional benefits. According to one study, exercising in nature elevates mood and decreases depression. “You can walk, bike, run, or skate in cold weather,” says Dr. Richards.
Eat and drink wisely.
Did you know that what you consume has an impact on your mental health? For example, Serotonin is created in the body and carries signals between nerve cells. In the brain, low levels of serotonin are associated with increased feelings of depression.
Certain foods aid in the production of serotonin, including whole grains, lean protein, and foods high in Omega-3s, such as salmon and other fatty fish. Consuming those foods may help improve your mood while eating sugar and refined starches will do the opposite. And consider curbing the intake of alcoholic beverages. Research has shown that alcohol can increase depression.
Reach out to others.
Even if you can’t be there in person, technology has enabled us to connect with others through a phone call, text message, or video chat. If you’re experiencing video call burnout, consider creating an agenda. For example, let a friend know that you would like to discuss three positive things that happened to each of you that week, or talk about recommendations for books or Netflix shows.
This keeps the conversation positive. Another way to reach out to others is through volunteering. While many in-person volunteering opportunities have been canceled or changed, there are many ways you can help others from home. Research has shown that helping others through volunteering has a positive effect on mental health, and decreases depression.
How About Food
You will find that cooking healthy is very important all year. It is even more true during the holidays when most of us are more lackadaisical about our eating habits.
You had a long day at the office, followed by your kids’ soccer practice, and you’re famished. It’s time to hit the fast-food drive-thru, right? Not if you have an instant pot.
These nifty devices harness the power of pressure cooking to do anything from keeping roasts moist to steaming rice that Bobby Flay would praise. All you have to do is toss in the ingredients, set a few buttons, and serve up a gourmet meal in no time. You’ll save considerable money and calories — plus, these devices impact your carbon footprint less than running the oven.
Wait for a second — weren’t you reading an article on healthy investments? Who said that pizza couldn’t be healthy? You can put all kinds of nutritious veggies and lean proteins on top.
Another way to elevate your dietary game is to get into grilling — yes, even in the winter. Think of it this way: you won’t need to swat flies or wipe sweat out of your eyes.
Grilling drains the excess fat away from foods as they cook, unlike pan-frying, which leaves them simmering in their juices. If you live somewhere brutal where 3-feet of snow is the norm, you can find countertop versions that use an inclined plane to whisk away excess oils.
A Veggie Slicer/Dicer
You know that you should eat more vegetables — they’re low in calories and high in nutrition. Different colored varieties present a host of phytonutrients that boost your health and well-being in multiple ways. However, it’s a hassle chopping onions, peppers, and radishes by hand.
A veggie slicer takes the pain out of food prep and makes you look like Martha Stewart when you serve up perfectly ribboned zucchini. You’ll find you eat more salads during the week when you have everything you need chopped and portioned in individual stay-fresh containers.
A Teakettle With Infuser
According to a study in the European Journal of Protective Cardiology, drinking tea at least three times weekly correlates to a longer and healthier life. It slashes cardiovascular risk and mortality from all causes.
You or a lucky gift recipient can create custom herbal blends with a model that includes a diffuser. Plus, you can invest in looseleaf varieties that cut down on waste by eliminating bags.
The last thing you want is more stress and, for many of us, trying to keep to our usual workout program does just that. At the same time, staying active in some way will give you energy, reduce stress and tension and, of course, help mitigate some of the extra calories you may be eating.
Instead of letting exercise slide, taking a less-is-more approach to working out will enable you to avoid schedule overload without sacrificing your health. By training smarter, not longer, you can increase the time available for holiday to-dos while still decreasing the impact of seasonal treats on the waistline. This plan will also help reduce stress and safeguard your overall well-being.
So, how do you find that balance? These quick tips will help you plan ahead, prepare yourself for any eventuality, and provide workouts to help you stay active this holiday season.
Try to plan your workout schedule beforehand. Even if you have to change it (which is likely when you’re traveling), you’ve already made a commitment to exercise. It’s easier to stick with it when you have it planned than to squeeze it in later.
Planning and preparing are nice, but even the best-laid plans get derailed, especially during the holidays. If you find there’s just no way to get in a workout, get creative, and find ways to move your body any way you can:
- Walk as much as possible. Take extra laps at the mall, use the stairs, volunteer to walk the dog.
- If you’re hanging out with kids, set up a game of football, tag, or hide and seek.
- Offer to help with the housework, shoveling snow, or raking leaves.
- If everybody’s sitting around watching football, get on the floor for some sit-ups or pushups. If that’s too weird, try isometric exercises — squeeze and hold the abs, the glutes, or even press the hands together to engage the chest.
- If you don’t have the equipment, pick up some full water bottles or soup cans for quick lateral raises or overhead presses. Something is always better than nothing.
The most important thing is to be realistic and go easy on yourself. You aren’t always in charge of your schedule during the holidays so you can only do your best. Remind yourself that you can get back to your routine when you’re back home.
Staying fit over the holidays doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself of all the season’s treats; it just requires a more strategic approach to fitness. And following the tips above will create healthy lifestyle changes that will continue to serve you long after the holidays pass.
Drinking during holidays is a relatively normal practice. Forbes magazine even listed “Ten Reasons to Drink during the Holidays,” mentioning the sociable nature of the reasons behind holidays, whether at the height of summer or the dead of winter. Old friends and family members visit, companies host holiday parties, and streets are decorated with Christmas lights, little American flags, or Halloween pumpkins. It’s hard not to celebrate, says Forbes. There are other reasons that people drink during the holidays, and not all of them are happy.
For many, holidays are a time of loneliness and stress; not everyone enjoys mingling at an office party, and having old friends and seldom-seen relatives under the same roof can lead to embarrassing situations. Financial and economic difficulty is a real problem when there is pressure to buy something to celebrate the occasion while still struggling to pay bills and rent. In this context, it’s hard not to drown sorrows in alcohol.
“Alcohol consumption increases during the holidays,” notes the Statesman Journal, specifically mentioning a report issued by Alcohol Monitoring Systems that found that over 450,000 monitored DUI offenders increased their drinking rates by 33 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, even though they knew they were being monitored around the clock to test their alcohol consumption.
The vice president of Alcohol Monitoring Systems said that such a spike indicated the close degree to which dangerous drinking and holidays (and the holiday season) were intertwined. While the fact that knowingly monitored drinkers drank even more than they normally did during the holidays, “you can imagine the rate of drinking for those who aren’t being monitored,” said the vice president.
From Christmas to New Year’s Day
When it comes to holidays, the period that starts before Christmas and ends on New Year’s Day accounts for some of the highest incidents of binge drinking and related public health problems. In a story sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, the Statesman Journal writes of how the Christmas season, and especially Christmas week, creates a number of opportunities for drinking to get out of control. An addiction medical specialist with Kaiser explains that overindulging during the holidays is easy.
There is plenty of food, drink, and good cheer to go around, and moderation is rarely taken seriously. There is the idea that being more responsible with food and alcohol consumption in January will ameliorate any excesses during the holiday season, so people tend to eat and drink more.
To that point, US News & World Report adds that even social drinkers can face a barrage of temptations to drink more than they normally do. At house parties, office parties, and bars, alcohol is in constant flow in the buildup to Christmas and New Year’s. Champagne, for example, has always been a part of toasting the start of a new year, and it’s not limited to a single drink. An addiction psychiatrist told US News that “usually the parties start well before midnight.”
Once again I do not think there will be a lot of driving. Most celebrations will be contained in many people’s homes.
Many people drink with the mindset that liquid calories “don’t count,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Alcoholic beverages vary in serving sizes, based on the alcohol content of the drink and the number of carbohydrates (typically in the form of sugar) it contains.
Examples of one serving are 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of beer, 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of wine, and 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) of distilled spirits. A serving of alcohol is 100 to 150 calories, but that doesn’t include sugary or high-caloric ingredients that usually come with cocktails or festive drinks. For instance, a cup of eggnog, a candy cane martini, or a glass of sangria can include 250 calories or more for just a single serving.
As you can see, holiday drinks can be a real hindrance when it comes to health and wellness. Here are a few tips to help you sip smarter during the holidays.
- Drink water between alcoholic drinks. Not only will this help keep you hydrated, but also it will help slow down your drinking and keep you comfortable in a social setting. (No one has to know it’s not alcohol.)
- Use low-calorie mixers, such as no-calorie soda or tonic water, or lemon and lime wedges, to help reduce added calories. You can also make healthier ingredient swaps without sacrificing flavor. For instance, use low-fat milk in your eggnog and cut the amount of cream in half — or skip it entirely.
- Practice moderation. Enjoy and savor your drinks by sipping slowly. Being mindful can help you reduce your overall calorie intake without feeling restricted.
- Keep the focus on family and friends and remember the reason for the gatherings: a time to celebrate with those you love.
Another thing to remember is that alcohol may increase appetite and lead to eating more. A little planning can go a long way when you’re in the mood to munch. Fruit and veggies with dip are always good options to have on hand. Lightly buttered popcorn, nuts, and whole-wheat crackers with cheese are also good snack staples.
Wishing everyone a safe and healthy holiday season.
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