How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays—4 Pillars to Success

We all know the score. When the turkey comes out, our best intentions fly out the window. The obstacles to stay healthy over the holidays are many. And you may feel like you are walking through a minefield of temptation and sources of stress. Are you tired of starting each New Year feeling bloated and strung out? And is it possible for a person to walk through the holiday season with health that is unscathed?

Read on for four pillars to health success that will keep your heart and body in shape.

Pillar 1. Deal with stress first.

That long shopping list of gifts to buy and wrap… That Christmas dinner for the neighbors you need to plan and execute… The in-laws that you must host and entertain…

By now you should know that the holidays often come with their share of stress. And stress is not an emotional event with no physical effects. When your stress response is triggered, your body has a definite reaction. Known as the fight-or-flight response, when you are feeling stressed out, your heartbeat accelerates and your blood flow increases. But when you are under continual stress, you place your heart and your blood pressure under excessive strain.

So what can we do differently this year? Make staying cool and calm a goal during the holidays. Explore new ways to get your body to chill. One path to relaxation you might not know of? Acupuncture.

According to this acupuncturist in Denver, “Acupuncture stimulates specific points on the body to positively affect both the central and peripheral nervous systems, increase proper blood flow to the symptomatic areas, and enhance overall healthy functioning of the entire human body.”

Pillar 2. Focus on family, not food.

Studies have shown that the average American will gain 1 to 2 pounds over the holiday season. This might not seem like that much if we were to lose that extra weight immediately after the holidays. But since we then go on to break our New Year resolutions to work out and lose those extra pounds, the pounds add up with each year that passes.

Staying away from gatherings that focus on food is nearly impossible. American holiday traditions all seem to center around the dinner table. So how do you stick to your resolutions when a feast is laid before you?

Focus more on the people and less on the food. Talk and listen to the stories being told. Help with the serving of the dishes. Be the first one out of your seat to help with whatever needs doing. Be the designated driver–someone’s gotta do it, right? And sticking to healthy eating resolutions is easier when you are not under the influence. So that is another reason to skip the alcohol at holiday parties.

Pillar 3. Allow yourself time to recover.

Parties and holiday meetups can be exhausting. Avoid the unrealistic expectation that you will be able to run from one event to the next without feeling tired.

Make sure you have scheduled breaks in your schedule after each large event that will allow you to catch your breath and have some needed alone time. Even while the parties continue, there are still house chores to be done and daily living tasks that must be attended to. Overscheduling yourself can lead to feeling overwhelmed by even those small tasks. Give yourself frequent breathers and realize those resting points are what help you to fully enjoy the active parts of your holidays.

Pillar 4. Place a priority on sleep.

Ever wonder why the holidays seem to make you overly emotional? It could be a matter of sleep—that is to say, not enough of it. This study from the Journal of Neuroscience shows that a lack of sleep can impair our ability to control our emotions.

Late nights seem to be a hallmark of the holidays. But if you really want to avoid arguing with your folks, or getting into a fight with your in-laws, then make sleep a priority. And its good effects are not only limited to emotional control. People frequently get sick right after the holidays, and it might have to do with a lack of sleep. Getting enough sleep is linked to a well-functioning immune system, which is vital to have during the holidays. Sleep can also affect how quickly you recover from sicknesses. So there are all sorts of good reasons to guard your sleep hours, particularly during the holidays.