December can be stressful. It often brings extra social and financial obligations. It can cause a breakdown of healthy eating and exercise habits. It can also leave you feeling lonely or depressed. But you and your family can adopt some new traditions that may help ease the season's stress and make your holidays healthy and happy.
Managing your physical health during the holidays
When the holidays become more than you bargained for, your health can be compromised. And stress can put extra demands on your body. Here are some tips on keeping up your health during the holiday season:
- 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.
- Continue to exercise. Don't let your regular routine lapse.
- Eat healthy foods. Limit your consumption of high-fat holiday treats. Serve healthy fare at your family's holiday party.
Managing your emotional health during the holidays
It's easy to become overwrought this time of year, especially if you believe something is lacking in your holiday celebration. Here are some ways to create new holiday traditions 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, put it off until after the holidays. This will give you more time to prepare. It will also help ease post-holiday letdown by giving you something fun to look forward to.
- If you can’t be with your family, get out around people. Plan to be with friends or volunteer to help others who also may be separated from their families.
Keeping kids happy and healthy during the holidays
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 less parties that exclude children.
- Watch less TV and do more things as a family.
- Include your kids in all preparations. Let your children help you decorate and bake, even if it means your creations aren't perfect.
- Teach children the meaning of giving. Adopt a needy family and have your kids help you 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 intangible gifts with each other, such as helping with homework, washing the dishes, and mowing the lawn. Let your children come up with their own ideas of what they can offer.
Dr. Stephanie Losq-Sarkar: I specialize in Family Medicine and Primary Care. I chose to practice Family Medicine because it allows me to treat the patient as a whole person.
A little something extra about me: I enjoy making a good quiche!