The countdown to Christmas begins, for some, in summer. People begin Thanksgiving prep weeks in advance. Adults in America look forward to the holiday season in the same way they did as children: with giddy excitement and sleepless nights. Seeing relatives after months or even years apart is always a highlight, but the stress, anxiety and general unhealthiness of the season can’t be overlooked. Luckily, there are simple ways of staying healthy during the holidays.

1. Maintain A Good Exercise Routine

Exercise is an important part of a healthy routine, and maintaining a good level of physical activity during the busy holiday season can help fight off illness and combat anxiety. There’s no reason to take 10-mile jogs or try your hand at deadlifting; even moderate exercise like regular walks and light cardio can be enough to rejuvenate your immune system and release important chemicals like endorphins. Creating a schedule and sticking to it can help make exercise a regular part of your life. Even if you’re visiting family or away from home, you can work to stick to your plan. Try inviting your friends and family to exercise with you to maintain your holiday health!

2. Regulate Your Stress

Some stress during the holiday season is to be expected. There are parties to plan and attend, gifts to buy, relatives to meet and even travel plans to make. All of this can tax your body, and the additional stress that unruly family and friends can add is often too much to take. Participating in stress-relieving activities will help you stay grounded among all the hassle of the holidays. Certain medical conditions can also be exacerbated by stress, so keeping your life calm and orderly may improve your health in the long run.

3. Work to Combat Negative Feelings

Children, nieces, nephews, siblings and even parents: The family members that mean so much to you can work your last nerve when you’re cooped up together for the holidays. Negative thinking will only build tension and lead to angry outbursts. If you find that it’s difficult to be positive when around your family, practice activities that can help boost positive thinking, If you fight over politics with your family and notice resentment building, make a list of positive things you admire in each family member. Appreciation exercises and the importance of positivity have been the basis of numerous studies, including one by the Mayo Clinic.

4. Stick to a Healthy Diet

Holiday foods are as fantastic as they are unhealthy. Aside from counting calories and watching carbs, holiday pies and starchy mashes are unhealthy to binge on at any time of year. Many people also drink more alcohol during the holidays, which can interact with medication and cause flare-ups of other illnesses. While treating yourself is as important as eating your vegetables, keep an eye on your health and how certain foods affect you. Keep note of dietary restrictions and allergies, and alert your hosts or guests to what you can’t eat or have in the house.

5. Schedule Downtime

The holiday season is naturally high-strung. Just like your little grandson after too much cherry pie, a packed holiday schedule can feel like your life is on fast-forward. Meditation, downtime and recreation are all good ways to stay calm between activities. Remember to plan and schedule your activities with time between for rest. If you deal with health problems, you should tell your family and friends what days you won’t be available. And as much as you love your relatives, knowing when to step away or head home can be beneficial in the long run.

The holidays are a wonderful time to make memories and reflect on old ones. Keeping yourself in good shape is also a crucial part of the season. Remember to exercise, watch what you eat, avoid dwelling on negative thoughts about your family, manage your stress and schedule downtime. By following these holiday health tips, you can make this the best holiday season you’ve spent with them yet. 

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