Gratitude and Positive Psychology
Healthy Holiday Habits
It can be hard to try to maintain our healthy habits during the holiday season with all that extra good food around. Or maybe you’re just tired of feeling “blah” and want to make a change now. Why wait? The bad thing is that people tend to take healthy habits to extremes, such as restricting your diet to the point of irritability and then purging on sweets when you can’t take it anymore. So here are some tips to help with overall sleep, exercise, and balanced eating at any time of the year, but especially during the holiday season.
We know that sleep is important, but do we really give sleep the credit it deserves? Sleep can do wonders for fixing a bad mood, helping your body to overcome an illness, keeping your energy in line, and so much more. And yet so many of us don’t get the sleep that our bodies need to physically (and mentally!) keep functioning. The average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. So if you have to get up for work at 6:00am, that means going to bed between 10:00-11:00pm. Teenagers do need a little bit more sleep of 8.5-9.5 hours each night, according to the Sleep Foundation. School aged children should be getting 9-11 hours to help their brains develop. It can be done, it might just mean watching one less Netflix show at night or putting the book down a little bit earlier. On that note, cut your phones off or at least don’t look at it as you’re trying to go to sleep. The blue light from your electronics signals to your brain that it’s daytime and that it should be awake. After doing this for several nights or weeks you might find that it is easier and more of a routine.
This does not mean that you have to get out and run 3 miles on Christmas Day. Exercise has so many benefits, from helping your physical health to decreasing symptoms of depression. Exercise can be as simple as doing squats between tv commercials, channeling your inner Jane Fonda and doing some side bends while the biscuits are in the oven, or even turning on your favorite music and having a dance party in your bathroom. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous you feel, I can almost guarantee that it will instantly make your mood feel better. Plus you’ll burn some calories! In the long-term, there are tons of free exercise videos on the internet, or you might even consider joining a gym.
One of the most exciting times about the holiday season is the food. But many people are disappointed in themselves, saying “I fell off the wagon,” or “I ate way too much,” and so on. It’s okay! I’m not saying to eat anything and everything in your sight, but if you want a piece of pie AND a cookie, it will be okay. Refer back to the exercise portion above to help counteract some of the extra calories. When you’re fixing your dinner plate, try to make sure you have a little something from different food groups (meat, grain, fruit, vegetable) so that you’re getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need. Holidays (or really any time of year) shouldn’t be about restricting what you eat to the point of making you irritable or increasing symptoms of depression. The key to everything is BALANCE.
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Holidays are a stressful time because of all the family gatherings, work parties, spending money on gifts, baking 3 dozen cookies.
Lauren Blackburn, LCSW