‘Tis the Season to be Healthy: Maintaining Your Physical and Mental Well-Being During the Holidays
December 6, 2022
By: Jordan Nichols, RN, Behavioral Health
The holiday season is finally here, ringing with the joy of visiting family and friends, attending festive parties, exchanging gifts, sharing delicious meals and giving back to charitable causes. It’s “the most wonderful time of the year” as they say. Unfortunately, though – for many of us – this time of year often means more stress and anxiety than usual, balancing a social calendar jam-packed with invitations and commitments, shopping ’til you drop for the perfect gifts or perhaps struggling with a recent loss or the anniversary of the death of a loved one.
Thankfully, there a few simple things you can do amid all the holiday hustle to help make sure you’re taking care of your mind and body, while minimizing the stress and strain of the season.
Although this may be the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be one of the most tempting times to abandon healthy eating habits. With so many opportunities to indulge during the season, a big key to maintaining your health is being mindful of your eating habits. Being mindful doesn’t mean depriving yourself entirely though. In fact, healthy holiday eating is easily achievable when you follow these tips:
- Drink at least 64 ounces of water each day – more if you engage in regular physical exercise
- Avoid sugary beverages, like sodas, bottled teas, smoothies, adult beverages and fruit juices
- Aim for smaller portions of your favorite holiday treats
- Plan and prepare healthy snacks and meals around your holiday feasts
- Pay attention to what you’re eating and avoid mindless “grazing”
- Put a heart-healthy spin on your holiday favorites, like using olive oil and herbs and spices instead of unhealthy oils and salt.
Physical activity is one of the most effective ways you can improve or maintain good physical and mental health, and that goes for the holiday season as well. Continuing your regular exercise program or beginning a new physical routine will help you combat any extra holiday calories and keep you feeling good through December and into the new year. Be sure and talk to your provider before you start a new exercise routine.
Know you’re not alone.
The holiday season can be a difficult time for many, pained by mental and emotional fatigue. Whether you’re facing the first holiday season without a loved one or the pressure to do everything and be everywhere, it’s important to know that you don’t have to face the season alone. It’s okay to ask for help or talk about what you’re going through. If you’re struggling and need to speak to a counselor or other behavioral health provider, please don’t hesitate to do so. The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to those in suicidal crisis or extreme emotional distress, by calling 9-8-8.
Another way to combat loneliness is to be of service to others. Find an opportunity to share your time and talents through volunteerism. It is true that we get back more than we give when we volunteer!
Visit your provider.
There’s no better time than now to schedule your annual wellness exam or any other health screenings you may have been putting off. Annual wellness exams and recommended health screenings give you and your provider the opportunity to catch any health issues before they become serious and avoid any complications that can arise from delaying care. Regular visits with your provider also help you stay on top of things like recommended immunizations and any needed procedures, like hip or knee replacements, a hernia repair, wound care or foot/ankle surgery. Scheduling your check-up or screening is a great way to help you end 2022 and kick-off 2023 in a healthy way.
Fortunately, many health insurance plans offer regular wellness exams and other age-specific, preventive health screenings – like mammograms and colonoscopies – at little or no cost to you, and out-of-pocket expenses for procedures like the ones mentioned above could be minimal or nothing if you’ve already met your health insurance deductible for the year. If you’ve been holding off on scheduling your wellness visit, check with your provider about available end-of-year appointments.
By keeping these tips in mind and taking the holidays in stride, you can effectively reduce your stress level and preserve your peace and joy this season. At Saline Health System, we care about your health and happiness – during the holidays and all year long. We’re grateful you choose to come to us for your health and wellness needs and we wish each and every one of you a safe, healthy and happy holiday season!