The winter holiday season definitely brings moments of true joy. But let’s be honest — it also comes with its share of physical and emotional minefields. From losing sleep to having one too many slices of pie, most of us find it challenging to head into the New Year with all of our wellness goals intact. Here are a few tips to keep things healthier.

Strategize Your Party-Going

Spending a significant portion of the holiday season in other people’s homes is an almost surefire way to lose control of your healthy dietary habits. But there are still ways to make good choices.

  • Stick to the relatively healthy appetizers such as shrimp cocktail or the veggies on the crudités platter.
  • At a sit-down or buffet dinner, load your plate with lean proteins and lightly-dressed vegetables. Try to fill up on these, and have small servings of the stuffing and desserts.
  • If the holiday just wouldn’t be the same without a specific rich dessert or buttery side dish, plan your day to accommodate that treat. Have a lighter breakfast or lunch, and try to work in some exercise before the party.
  • Don’t let guilt over one bad day lead you to give up on the whole season. If you’ve overdone it with food and drink, don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead, work on having lighter meals and more workouts to help make up for it.

Cultivate De-Stressing Techniques

Stress can be an even bigger health risk than food and alcohol during the holiday season. With time and money in shorter supply, anxiety levels can easily be ratcheted up if you don’t get a handle on them.

Embrace Imperfection

The old sayings really are true: Your family will remember the time spent together, rather than perfectly-wrapped presents or lavish dessert tables. Before the season ever kicks into high gear, start repeating your mantra of choice about letting go of the small details.

Minimize Conflict

Whether it’s a grouchy person in the department store line or the sister-in-law who won’t stop debating politics, there’s no question that not everyone you encounter will be filled with the holiday spirit. Do whatever it takes to let these Grinches roll off your back through cultivating mindfulness this season. Spend more time in meditation or prayer, if that helps. During a potential conflict, take a few deep breaths, count to 10 — and look forward to venting with your friends the next day.

Walk It Off

Rather than thinking of exercise as the “penance” you have to pay to make up for over-indulging, consider it a gift that can help dissipate some of your holiday stress. Don’t neglect that brisk walk or home gym session even when you’re busy. There’s nothing quite like sweat and endorphins for relieving stress and making you feel more positive about the holiday season.

Make Health and Safety a Top Priority

Each year, doctors warn us about the increased risk of personal injury, chronic pain, and serious illness that arise during the holiday season.

Be Aware of Fire Hazards

Holiday chaos and flammable objects make for a volatile combination, whether it’s the gravy on the stove, Christmas tree lights, outdoor decorations, dining room candles, space heaters, wood stoves, or fireplaces. Get in the habit of making sure everything is off or secured before leaving the room or turning in for the night.

Catch Up on Wellness Appointments

Take advantage of school and work vacations by ensuring your family is up to date on medical appointments, flu shots, and other vaccinations. Indoor gatherings and crowded malls pose more of a risk of spreading illness during winter. Needless to say, frequent handwashing is more important than ever, as are all of your therapeutic appointments.

Travel Safely

Don’t be in so much of a hurry to reach your destination that you ignore measures that keep everyone safe. Wear your seatbelts at all times, stick to the speed limit, and, of course, call an Uber if you’ve had too much to drink. If you’ll be traveling long distances, make sure to adhere to face-covering rules specified by the airline, bus, or train company.

Protect the Littlest Ones

Toddlers and pets have a way of getting underfoot, and the holidays are no exception. Keep them safe by always making sure pot handles on the stove point inward and that any cooking devices that plug in don’t trail on the ground. Of course, keep things out of reach that are dangerous when ingested, such as chocolate with dogs, and alcohol, mistletoe, and holly for kids and animals alike.

Don’t Forget Selfcare

It’s not just “pampering” yourself when you make sure to fit therapeutic activities like TheraLight sessions into your wellness routine. Especially during the holidays, these types of wellness appointments can help ease those tensed-up muscles, soothe anxiety, and boost your immune system’s response. Talk to your doctor or red light therapy provider to learn more.

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