Have a Happier, HEALTHIER Holiday Season

Have a Happier, HEALTHIER Holiday Season

As much as most of us look forward to the late-year holidays, they can be hazardous and stressful for many. Depression, anxiety, and loneliness skyrocket. Temptations abound, and healthful habits get sidelined. We can become lazy—or overextend ourselves. There are often opportunities to eat with wild abandon, ignoring quantity or quality. No wonder the holidays amplify the risk of some types of accidents and illnesses. 

You’re likely aware that traffic accidents increase during holidays, but did you know that home and workplace accidents also escalate? For example, each year more than 5,000 people are injured from a fall while putting up decorations. And in addition to typical seasonal illnesses, cardiac events surge about five percent during those festive times of the year. 

But we needn’t fall into the statistics category. Careful planning and thoughtful choices will go a long way toward keeping us safe and healthy throughout the holidays. Here are some ideas to consider: 

1. Cut the stress by keeping things simple. Don’t get locked in by “shoulds”; give yourself permission to cut corners. Do your shopping online, for instance, keep your guest list smaller, or use fewer decorations around the house. Take regular relaxation breaks. Read something uplifting, listen to soothing music, or practice breathing deeply. 

2. Skip the junk food. Instead, prepare healthy, low-fat, plant-based meals. Deciding in advance which foods and desserts (and how much) you will allow yourself to consume will help you make healthier choices. 

3. Getting plenty of sleep will help bolster your immune system and keep your brain operating at peak levels. 

4. Stick to your exercise program. Among a boatload of benefits, exercise relieves stress, boosts energy levels, helps you sleep better, and decreases the risk of disease.1 

5. Stay cheerful: “A merry heart does good, like medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). Don’t let little setbacks get you down, and don’t expect perfection. Cut some slack for yourself and others. Set aside any differences. Remember to count your blessings too, as it tends to improve physical and emotional health.2 

6. Drink plenty of water. Just about every function in our bodies is dependent on an adequate supply. Keeping well hydrated supports a higher energy level and better brain function. 3 

7. Get outside whenever possible. Fresh air and sunlight can brighten your outlook. Be cautious, though, about exercising in the cold. Know your limits and always warm up adequately first. 

8. Spread the joy and be thoughtful of those not on your gift list. Reach out to a lonely neighbor, for instance. Take them a loaf of bread or some cookies, invite them for a meal, or otherwise encourage them. 

9. Maintain your devotional life. During the season when distractions multiply exponentially, cling to that vital connection with God. Feast on His Word, keep the conversation line open with the One whose incredible blessings have inspired these yearly celebrations, and always watch for opportunities to share His love with a world in need of hope. 

Finally, remember to have fun as you endeavor to make the season both joyful and healthy for yourself and those you love. Happy Holidays! 

1 https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389

2 https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/improve-health-practice-gratitude/art-20270841 

3 https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290814#benefits

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