How to Have a Healthy Holiday Season

As the fall temperatures make way for cooler winter weather, we set our sights on the excitement and busyness of the upcoming holiday season. Breaks from school and work, spending time with family and friends, and the hope of a new year are hopefully enough to keep your spirits up and get you excited about the holidays this year. However, for many individuals and families, the holidays are more stressful than they would like, and what should be a time of joyous festivities is instead can be a time of struggles, sadness, and anxiety. No matter where you find yourself this fall, prepare yourself to have the healthiest and best holiday season yet by following these guidelines and embracing this time of year. If you need more help and just someone to talk to, we’re here for you. Talk to your doctor or make an appointment with one of our amazing behavioral health experts.

Allow Yourself Time to Reflect

The end of December brings a new year, and with that, a lot of people begin making resolutions and plans for their best year yet. You can do that, but first, you need to take time to reflect on the past year. If it was a hard year, you may wish to gloss over this tip, but it’s important to be reflective, self-aware, and introspective about what you’ve gone through. Think about what you did well in the hard times and how you could have made better choices, and be grateful for the good times you had and the victories you celebrated in the past year. Think about how you’ll make improvements in your personal and professional life in the upcoming year, and reflect on the personal and professional accomplishments and challenges from the past year. Giving yourself this time is important because it allows you to process what has happened and move on from the struggles while embracing optimism and hope for the future.

Don’t Overschedule Yourself

The holiday season is notorious for busy schedules and overcommitting. If it’s going to stress you out and keep you from enjoying what should be a fun time of year, don’t do it. Be okay with saying no to certain events or people, and schedule only what is realistic for you and your family to do this season. Maybe this means spreading out some traditions or festivities, or maybe it means minimizing and being more selective about what you do and where you go. While it’s important to make time for special people and important events, the holidays are not about pleasing everyone else and causing yourself to be miserable. Remember that it’s okay to be selective with your time, because by not overcommitting yourself, you’ll have more of yourself to give to others and will enjoy yourself much more.

Manage Stress Well

Although the holidays are supposed to be a time of rest and celebration, they can quickly become a huge area of stress and anxiety for many. If money is tight, the thought of buying Christmas gifts and spending money to travel can be overwhelming. If you’re trying to make good choices with your eating habits, the temptations of the holiday season can push you over the edge of making poor choices and can derail your healthy eating habits. No matter what stressors you find yourself facing as this holiday season approaches, managing your stress well is key to having a healthy and happy ending to your year. Allow yourself to think about and process your stressors, and give yourself some grace when it comes to dealing with facing them head-on. Try to come up with some reasonable solutions to minimize the stress, and do your best to face the challenges with a positive attitude and as much hope and optimism as possible. Plan ahead to stay on top of your stress, and make good choices to deal with it sooner rather than later. Staying active, eating well, getting enough sleep, and staying optimistic will help you deal with the stress more effectively and will help you enjoy this magical time of year much more.

Make Healthy Choices

Whether healthy choices are a struggle for you normally or not, the holidays tend to push many people into a bit of a frenzy when it comes to decision-making. It could be as simple as eating enough vegetables and drinking enough water, or it could be about minimizing your alcohol consumption and taking preventative measures to avoid getting sick. Making healthy choices will, as mentioned above, help keep your stress levels to a minimum, and it will allow you to make the most of this time of year. Continue to eat a healthy and balanced diet while enjoying treats and sweets in moderation, stay active and drink plenty of water, especially if you’re also consuming alcohol, and be sure to continue to get enough sleep each night. Stay healthy and avoid sickness by getting a flu shot, washing your hands regularly, and taking your vitamins. It’s also important to talk to your kids about family safety during this time of year since you all will have more time together. Talk about what to do in case of a fire in your house, how to handle getting separated in public places, and how important it is to wear seatbelts when driving. Talk about behavior when visiting and spending time with relatives, the importance of politeness when opening and receiving gifts from others, and much more.

Be Prepared for Winter Weather

The holiday season tends to bring some winter weather surprises with it each year, regardless of where you live. Whether you’re facing a brutal blizzard, minor flurries, or freezing temperatures, being prepared for the winter weather is an important part of having a healthy and happy holiday season. Be sure to keep winter gear in your car for emergencies. This includes hats, gloves, scarves, and extra jackets for every member of the family, as well as some extra blankets and some pocket hand warmers. Keep your car’s gas tank above empty so that you’re not forced to turn the car off completely if you get stranded or stuck somewhere. Keep an eye on the weather report and plan ahead when bad weather is expected. Be sure to dress in layers when you go outside, and avoid being outdoors for too long when the temperature is low.

Make Wise Choices While Traveling

Whether your traveling includes a cross-country flight or just a drive down the street to Grandma’s, take into account safe travel tips so you and your entire family can enjoy the traveling and stay healthy in the midst of it. Be sure to use the right car seats for your children in the car and ensure they are adjusted and secured properly. For long road trips, be sure to pack healthy snacks and plenty of water, and make sure you pull over and get out to stretch your legs and be active every few hours. Don’t drive when you’re tired either, as many wintertime car accidents are caused by drowsy drivers. If you’re traveling by airplane, be prepared with plenty of activities and snacks for the kids, and minimize travel stress by wearing non-lacing shoes, dressing in layers, and flying earlier in the day to avoid meltdowns around naptime.

Prepare for the New Year with Optimism

You’ve probably heard it said that attitude is everything, and that absolutely rings true during the sometimes stressful holiday season and even into the New Year. It can be hard to stay positive 100% of the time, but having a good attitude about all the potential mishaps and challenges of the holiday season will help you move into the New Year with confidence, hope, and excitement. As you look forward to January and beyond, allow yourself to be excited and hopeful, and be sure to make plans and set goals. If attitude is everything, making sure your mindset is positive will essentially set you up for success, health, and happiness as you move beyond the holiday season and into the New Year.