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Holiday Wellness

Posted December 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

We often refer to this time of year as winter “break.”  But a break from our wellness isn’t what we intend.  Instead of looking and feeling our best over the holidays, we end up tired and stressed after all the “good cheer.”  Having a plan to handle the holidays will make it easier to navigate them in a healthy way and by acknowledging that wellness is a priority, you’ll not only be able to stay on track, but you just might inspire the friends and family around you.
Eat better:
Set some rules, but don’t make them so strict you know they’ll fly out the window at the first delicious looking cookie.  Eat fewer carbs, fatty and sweet-laden foods that zap your enegery and send your mood on a roller-coaster ride of unwanted highs and lows.  Instead eat more spiced foods – they’ll be more filling and many spices have health benefits – and focus on colorful veggies.  Sweet potatoes, carrots, kale and fruit are delicious, packed with anti-oxidants that’ll help your skin glow with health and they’re low in calories!
Drink smarter:
When it comes to alcoholic drinks, the better choices are red wine or dark beer. They have more antioxidants or flavonoids than any other alcoholic beverages.  But indulge in moderation.  Alcohol is a packed with calories and sugar and can lead to weakened inhibitions and overeating.  (It also makes it harder to sleep!)
Make a list and check it twice:
Santa does it, you should too.  Don’t overbuy “just in case.”  Recent studies have shown that people are more grateful when they get gifts that they’ve asked for. The recipient doesn’t know how much time and money went into what you bought them, so you don’t need to spend a week looking for that perfect – and elusive – something.  As an alternative, think about giving to charity in someone’s name.  Or even better, have the whole family volunteer for a few hours.   It turns out that the pleasure centers in the brain that are activated when we receive gifts are also activated when we give things away!  Volunteering is also linked to  lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression – all keys for anti-aging!
Work Out:
You know that exercise is good for you.  It reduces stress, helps you stay younger, it’s good for your memory, it releases endorphins and makes you happier.  Don’t let it fall by the wayside when you need it the most.  If you can’t find the time to accommodate your regular schedule, try to work exercising into your plans.  Need some alone time with your new sister-in-law.  Hike together.  Want to get the kids out of the house for a few hours?  Take everyone ice-skating.  By exploring new activities you may just find another one that you love.
Rest:
Don’t be tempted to get by on too little sleep; instead, look for ways to simplify holiday preparations.  Sleep is when your body rebuilds, repairs and re-energizes for the next day.  If you aren’t getting enough, you’ll see it in your mood, your ability to function and your skin.  Since your skin is the largest organ in your body, it’s also the one that shows the most stress and age.  Tired during the day?  Take a power nap – you’ll be amazed at the rejuvenating effects!
You Time:
Take some time to be silent and reflective each day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. There is scientific proof that doing so can decrease blood pressure, pulse rate, and improve blood circulation. Brain scans show that the happiest people around are those who meditate.  You don’t need to have an aromatherapy room filled with candles to do this, you can sit outside in your garden or take a walk.
Prepare for the New Year:
New Year’s resolutions are easily made and easily broken.  Instead of making sweeping proclamations like, “I’m going to stop eating dessert in 2012,” and ending it there, make a plan for success.  Set up your doctors appointments for January and head off potential problems early.  A good doctor will help you set up a wellness or lifestyle management program that is specially tailored to your needs and help you meet your goals.  Be sure your doctors are experienced and board certified!
Let Go:  
The holidays won’t be perfect or just like they were when you were growing up, and that’s a good thing.  As families change and grow, traditions and rituals change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. Find ways to include new family member’s traditions – it turns out your son-in-law’s vegetarian stew is delicious alternative to goose – and honor where people are in their lives.  If your grown daughter just got married and is spending Christmas with her in-laws, Skype before dinner.
Most importantly, remember that the holidays can be a time for love and celebration.  Don’t let your health and wellness fall by the wayside trying to take care of everyone else or trying to meet unreasonable expectations.  Have fun, take time for yourself and bring your best you to 2012!
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