How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are almost here (goodbye, 2020!). Physical, mental, and emotional health have been tricky to navigate this year, and they’ll only get harder to manage during these final few weeks. 

Staying Healthy During the Holidays

When it comes to physical health, both your eating and exercise habits play key roles. During the pandemic, many people have been forced to give up their workout routines due to gym closures, while others turn to unhealthy food and overeating during times of stress. All of that to say, you may be going into the holidays feeling less than your best. If weight management is top of mind for you, here are three tips to follow:

  • Eat the colors of the rainbow: Whenever you can, load up your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables. Not only will it boost your immune system, which is always helpful during these colder months, but it’ll also help you feel full for longer. Focus on protein too, including it with every meal and snack. Making healthy choices throughout the day will give you a little wiggle room when it’s time to enjoy that cranberry margarita or chocolate cake at the end of the day.
  • Stay hydrated: Try to drink half your body weight in ounces of water. For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, aim for 75 ounces of water each day. To hit this goal, keep a refillable water bottle with you at all times. You can also use your hydration efforts to slow down your intake of high-calorie, alcoholic beverages, drinking a glass of water in between each cocktail.
  • Change your exercise perspective: You may be missing your early morning spin class or late afternoon run with friends, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still make exercise a priority. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish with a set of dumbbells, an online trainer, and a bit of space in your living room! If your holiday schedule is too busy for an hour-long sweat sesh, try to squeeze in 15 or 30 minutes whenever you can. Whether it’s a quick walk around the neighborhood (following social distancing guidelines) or a short strength training workout at home, your body will thank you. 

Dealing with Seasonal Depression or Anxiety

Now, let’s talk about mental and emotional health. For many people, the holidays can usher in a time filled with loneliness and stress, which often leads to depression or anxiety. Read on for three steps to take if you’re feeling sad or overwhelmed during this festive time of year: 

  • Practice self-care: No matter how busy you are, make time for self-care. Whether it’s writing in your journal, decompressing with a soothing face mask (not the masks we are all now wearing in public!) and your favorite reality TV, or taking your dog on a long walk, try to do one thing each day just for you
  • Get enough sleep: You can never underestimate the importance of sleep! Not only does a lack of sleep make it difficult to manage your emotions, but it also affects your hormone levels in a way that leads to cravings and weight gain. Keep electronics out of the bedroom, and aim for seven to nine hours of sleep whenever possible. 
  • Seek professional help: If you feel like your problems are only getting worse despite your efforts, it may be time to seek professional help. Visit your primary care physician, and consider seeing a therapist.

Celebrating the Holidays During a Pandemic

This year’s holiday celebrations will be different than ever before. With many states seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases and schools across the nation closing down, it’s hard to imagine what life will be like for Thanksgiving, let alone Hanukkah and Christmas.

Many people won’t be able to travel to see their loved ones due to distance and travel limitations. If you do choose to travel, stay six feet apart whenever possible, and wear a mask around elderly relatives or anyone with preexisting health conditions, especially if you’re traveling on an airplane. Once you arrive at your destination, you should consider staying in one spot as opposed to “house-hopping” in an effort to see multiple friends and family.

Do you have concerns about staying healthy during the holidays — especially in the midst of a global pandemic? Reach out to Dr. Asha Tota-Maharaj, MD at Platinum Primary Care for help with weight management, depression, and more