As the holiday season approaches, we’re all looking forward to seeing our family and friends, eating great food, and making lasting memories with loved ones. However, the past year has also taught us to be more conscious of our health than ever. With temperatures dropping, our bodies become more susceptible to viruses like the flu and COVID-19. That is why it’s so important to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe this year by practicing good health habits.
Holiday gatherings have the potential to spread pathogens that can be dangerous to small children, the elderly, and the immuno-compromised. But that doesn’t mean you have to add another worry to your list of holiday stressors. Whether you’re gathering with friends and extended family or staying in and close to home this year, here are a few tips to ensure you and your family have a safe, healthy holiday season this year.
Healthy Winter Habits
As winter arrives and we enter the height of flu season, it’s crucial to maintain healthy habits. It might sound obvious, but protect yourself from the cold with warm clothing and wash your hands often! You can prevent the spread of germs through thorough hand washing, scheduling your and your family’s doctor visits and vaccination shots, and staying in if you feel cold or flu symptoms.
Stay Hydrated During the Dry Season
Staying hydrated is essential to your health, and it can be especially difficult during the cold, dry winter months. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day to help with chapped lips and dry skin. If you’re celebrating the holidays with soda, eggnog, or alcoholic beverages, you might want to consider having a glass of water in between drinks. This way, you can still enjoy yourself without your body punishing you for it.
Eat Mindfully and in Moderation
Food is one of the best parts of any family’s holiday traditions, and it’s no secret that holiday meals aren’t always the best for your diet. If your family is starting early on a New Year’s health kick, you may want to try finding some healthy holiday recipes online. If you’re visiting someone else this year, consider bringing a vegetable platter or another healthy side dish.
Be sure to serve yourself mindfully. Choose the green beans instead of the casserole, and keep your portions in mind. When you finally get to dig in at family mealtime, try to pay special attention to the meal, all of the tastes, aromas, and textures of different foods. Not only will you enjoy the meal even more, but taking your time with your food allows your stomach to settle and tell you when it’s full.
Boost Your Immune System
There are many ways to boost your immune system during the winter, from getting better sleep to eating foods that are rich in essential vitamins and nutrients. As it starts to get dark out earlier and earlier, our natural circadian rhythm can get thrown off. Quality sleep is critical to maintaining a healthy immune system, so be sure to set a schedule for yourself where you wind down without a screen before bed and wake up around the same time each day.
Eating foods that are nutrient-rich is also crucial to maintaining a healthy immune system. This includes colorful fruits and vegetables, healthy protein options, and personalized multivitamins to fill in the dietary gaps. In particular, look for foods with a high concentration of vitamin C and A. Vitamin D can help you deal with seasonal depression, and it also boosts your immune system.
Don’t Forget to Exercise
Although the holidays can quickly become one of the busiest times of the year, it’s important to stay physically active during the season. Daily exercise not only helps prevent holiday weight gain, it also boosts your mood and immune system while relieving stress and pain.
If you have trouble finding the time, try splitting your workout into smaller portions throughout the day. Consider incorporating a light exercise into your holiday tradition by going for a walk after Thanksgiving dinner, having a snowball fight with the kids outside, or going for a bike ride with the family.