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’Tis the season for parties, dinners, out-of-town guests, and lots of get-togethers with friends and family. But along with such merriment can come increased stress, anxiety, weight gain, colds and flu. The good news is that there are some simple things you can do to keep yourself and your family healthy and happy during the holiday season, especially in five important areas.
Manage your stress
Many of us love the idea of having a house full of happy guests during the holidays, but the reality can leave hosts stressed and worn out. Preparation can relieve a lot of that tension. From cleaning to cooking, anything that can be done in advance will ease the pressure when the festivities begin. However, once the guests arrive, being flexible is the key to keeping stress levels down. Accept that something may not go as planned, but that it will be okay. And enlist help from family and friends. Many guests enjoy being included in the activities, whether it’s setting the table, making a salad, or grilling some meat. When the host is relaxed and flexible, the guests will also be relaxed, and whatever problems arise won’t seem like such a big deal—especially if the guests are involved in the process.
Get enough sleep
Although it is a busy time of year, be sure you and yours get enough sleep. Maintaining good sleep habits is essential for stress management and general health. Take time to relax before bed, perhaps with a cup of chamomile tea or a warm Epsom salt bath. The magnesium from the Epsom salts is calming and relaxing, and the drop in body temperature after the warm bath induces sleep. Proper sleep can make all the difference between a stress-filled season and a pleasant one.
Reap the benefits of exercise
Moderate exercise can reduce stress, loosen muscles, and help you sleep better, and these factors all work together to keep you well. Maintain your normal exercise regimen—or, at the very least, take time to do stretching exercises like gentle yoga early in the morning or shortly before bedtime. The benefits of moderate exercise will outweigh any extra time it may take.
Maintain your nutrient levels
With a full schedule, it’s easy to neglect taking your supplements. This time of year, however, maintaining your vitamin and mineral levels is important to keeping you healthy and stress-free. Magnesium, for example, aids muscle relaxation and reduces the effects of catecholamines (adrenaline and noradrenaline) while decreasing inflammation. Vitamin C is essential to your immunity and it provides fuel to your adrenal glands, which generally require a store of a high level of ascorbic acid in order to synthesize hormones and generally deal with stress.
Address your diet
Although there are many tempting foods available throughout the holiday season, remember that even the most decadent morsel is gone in a moment, but the resulting poor health and excess weight takes much longer to repair. To prepare for this onslaught of temptations, determine ahead of time to avoid sugar and processed grains, instead choosing filling meats, nuts, cheeses and vegetables. You can even nibble on a few healthy snacks before events to help you resist temptation. Taking care of yourself during this time of year requires some effort, but you’ll be glad you did in the months to come. So plan ahead. Be sure to focus on these five keys this holiday season, so you can enjoy your time with family and friends, and usher in a healthy, happy new year.
- Ando, Katsuyuki. Fujita, Toshiro. Koji, Takano and Shimosawa, Tatsuo. 2004.
- Magnesium Inhibits Norepinephrine Release by Blocking N-Type Calcium Channels at Peripheral Sympathetic Nerve Endings. http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/44/6/897.full.pdf
- Bruning, Nancy and Lieberman, Shari. The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book. 2007.
- Volpe, Stella Lucia. 2013. Magnesium in Disease Prevention and Overall Health. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3650510/