Holiday Health Tips
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…right? The ground is covered in a soft white blanket, the family is gathering for the festivities, rich food and drink are flowing and even though it gets dark so early, that just makes candles and fireplaces look even more inviting. It’s also a stressful time of year for some of us, and there are some peculiarities of winter that make self-care even more important than normal. Here are a few tips for staying as mentally and physically healthy as possible over the holidays:
Drink water: When the air gets colder and drier, we need to drink even more water than we do during the warm months. Our mucous membranes and sinus passages need to stay moist to fight infections; also, proper hydration helps the body remove toxins, carry nutrients, stay energized, regulate temperature, and digest food. You might have noticed your lips are chapped and your skin is sucking up lotion—drinking more water will help with that, too.
Wash your hands: I know this seems self-explanatory, but wash your hands! Like, a lot. Not just after using the bathroom (but please please do); also, if you’re sick, a bottle of hand sanitizer is your friend and everyone else’s. Door handles, phones, computer keyboards, cash registers—if you’re touching something that other people will, do what you can to reduce the risk of spreading germs casually. Cough into your elbow, not your hands.
Get enough sleep: I fully realize this is easier said than done, but try to at least practice good sleep hygiene. Don’t watch TV in bed if you can avoid it; if you, like me, have a hard time putting down the cell phone, at least consider the light settings. Many phones have a dimmer or a night time setting that changes the display to warmer colors; studies have shown that blue light (like a regular phone screen) can be worse for your sleep. Try to get in bed at the same time every day, and if you’re really having a bad insomnia stretch try natural sleep aids like melatonin or valerian. (All of which come with their own upsides and downsides, so first and most importantly: do your research!)
Sun lamps/vitamin D: If you’re prone to seasonal depression, consider getting a light therapy lamp. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects millions of people, especially in northern areas like hours where the days are so short during the winter. You may also want to take vitamin D supplements.
Exercise: This time of year (when it’s cold, snowy, and the sun goes away at 4 PM) it’s harder than usual to get outside and exercise—but it’s worth it. Exercise not only helps you physically but it’s one of the best natural mood stabilizers; besides, it’s a great excuse to get out of the house for a little while.
Eat healthy: Again, much easier said than done—after all, ‘tis the season for cookies and egg nog and seasonal feasting. Don’t go overboard on the junk food, but don’t deprive yourself unnecessarily, either—and if you happen to go a little nuts at the buffet, that’s okay! Make sure you space out your cookiefests with plenty of fresh vegetables and protein; there are plant-based substitutes for just about everything (multiple varieties of nog, holiday roasts, even cauliflower pizza crusts), so try something different this year and switch up the turkey or the ice cream.
Natural supplements: elderberry, vitamin C/multivitamins, echinacea/zinc, oil of oregano. Harmony carries a whole array of immune-boosting supplements, and the combination of holiday stress and an already-overworked winter immune system can reduce even the perkiest to a miserable, sneezing Grinch. Also think of stress relief supplements (like magnesium, CBD, or L-theanine) if life is getting you down.
De-stress and have fun: Whether it’s going out to see a movie, go for a ski, making cookies with friends and family, or staying home with a good book, self-care includes making time for you. Be extra gentle with yourself as well as with other people—after all, you deserve happy holidays and a bright start to the new year!