The holidays can be stressful. The additions to your schedule can lead you to lose track of healthy eating and exercise habits. The increased demands and stress also can lead to emotional health issues. But you and your family can adopt some simple strategies that may help keep your holidays healthy and happy.
Staying In Shape During The Holidays
When the holidays become more than you bargained for, your health can be compromised. Even through this busy season, try not to forget about adding fitness into your routine. Even just 10 minutes of exercise can blast 100 calories.
- Look for short periods of time (at least 10 minutes) during the day in which you can do some physical activity.
- Try a 10-minute interval workout.Alternate the following exercises for the first 30 seconds of each minute followed by 30 seconds of rest:
- Jumping jacks
- Walk/Run in place
- Tricep dips
- Park at the far end of the parking lot when at the store, mall or work, when safe to do so.
- Be active during lunchtime. If you bring your lunch to work, you may have time to take a brisk walk. Or check out these 50 fitness tips for the office.
- Try an at-home workout.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Plan and prepare meals ahead of time, so you'll have time to exercise.
- Get your family to exercise with you. It's a fun way to spend some quality time together.
- Keep a daily log; this can help you stay accountable and see where you can fit in more physical activity.
Managing Expectations During The Holidays
Besides adding fitness into your holiday routine, there are other things that you can do to make sure your physical health is not affected by the holiday stress.
- Don't do too much. Give yourself some time to relax.
- Share the workload. Let everyone play an active role. Make the holidays a family affair so you're not burdened with all the work.
- Set priorities. You can't do everything. Say no to some of the demands on your time.
- Simplify your life. Be less elaborate this year. Relax your housekeeping and holiday preparations.
Reducing Stress During The Holidays
It's easy to become strained in November and December, especially if you believe something is lacking in your holiday celebration, or if you have extra activities or tasks. Stress can put extra demands on your body. Here are some ways to create new holiday traditions (or update the old) that will help level your emotions:
- Ask yourself if you really enjoy all the rituals. Perhaps they have merely become habits. Try choosing less elaborate traditions of holidays past.
- Don't be afraid to scale down gift giving. You'll probably get a lot of support.
- If your yearly party is too much to handle in December, put it off until after the holidays. Waiting until January or even February will give you more time to prepare. It also will help ease post-holiday letdown by giving you something fun to look forward to.
- If you can’t be with your family, find others who are important to you. Plan to be with friends or volunteer to help others who also may be separated from their families.
Creating Meaningful Holiday Traditions For Your Children
Children are especially vulnerable to commercial stimuli during the holiday season. But basically, all kids really need are realistic expectations about gifts, an even-paced holiday season and strong, loving family traditions. Here are some ways to make the holidays special for your children:
- Spend more time with your kids. Entertain less and go to fewer parties that exclude children.
- Watch less TV and do more things as a family. Walking around the neighborhood to look at lights, playing games and baking are all traditions you can build together.
- Include your kids in holiday preparations. Let your children help you decorate and bake, even if it means your creations aren't Pinterest perfect.
- Teach children the meaning of giving. Adopt a needy family and have your kids help you shop or make a meal for them. Suggest that your children buy a gift for an underprivileged child with their own money. Or ask them to donate one of their own gifts to a less fortunate child.
- Teach your children that gifts don't have to be tangible. Trade gifts of time with each other, such as helping with homework, washing the dishes, mowing the lawn, or playing a sibling’s favorite game. Let your children come up with their own ideas of what they can offer.
Sneak In Exercise While Shopping
All of that shopping is a blessing in disguise. It's a great opportunity to get up and boost your exercise routine and burn calories while marking loved ones' wishes off the list.
- Park and walk. Save yourself the headache of waiting for a close spot in the parking lot. Park near the outskirts and walk to the store. You'll park more quickly and gain a few dozen steps in your workout.
- Walk first, shop later. As soon as you arrive at the mall or store, plan to briskly walk without stopping for 10 minutes. Window-shop at the mall, or stride around the strip mall. Your body will gear up for exercise, you'll get a boost of energy, and your mood will improve.
- Speed it up. While shopping, walk as quickly as possible. You'll burn more calories and accomplish more.
- Step up. Avoid the elevator. Walk an escalator, instead of simply riding it.
- Bag it! Choose to carry your purchases instead of piling them onto a stroller or into a cart. You'll force your body to work harder.