Happy Holidays drawing with snowman

How These 8 Tips Can Make Your Holidays More Joy-Filled

Americans love their cold weather holidays. From Halloween through New Year’s Day, there are many events that occur in the darker wintertime of the year and we have a built-in conflict. This time of year is a more inward time with more rest and quiet space required, and a longing for a simple warm, nourishing diet. Yet, this time of year there are more treats at work or wherever we go, and we are asked to attend parties and family events where we are exposed to and consume more sugar and flour products, rich foods, alcohol and more. We go out more often at night during the holiday season, when we would be better off resting and recharging at home or sitting in front of a fireplace, visiting with a friend. It’s important to pay attention to this dimension of this magical time of the year and do your best to find your own unique balance. Below are some general health tips for staying healthy during the holidays.

Below are 8 tips for staying healthy and happy during this season of joy.

#1. Eat well. It’s common to pack on 5-10 pounds during the holiday season, but there are ways you can eat both healthy and well! Know which foods are high in caloric content and low in nutrition. Don’t deprive yourself of such treats but indulge in moderation. Eat smaller meals instead of “saving yourself” for one huge buffet. Try opting for healthy options at home, and when visiting others, bring a healthy dish to share. Be careful of liquid calories, including alcoholic beverages.

Find basic supportive foods. It is important to find supportive foods for your diet that provide the energy and nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. In the colder months, it is important to focus on heat-generating foods, such as cooked grains and legumes, hard squashes, some nuts and seeds, and protein foods. Also, include some garlic, onion, and ginger, plus the energizing spicy peppers such as cayenne and chili. These will keep your blood and energy moving. Know what works for you. The first part of December is a good time to look at doing some nutritional cleanup. Soon there will be many tempting sweets, baked goods, and alcohol beverages.

Use nutritional supplements. They can be used to support your health as well. Immune-supportive nutrients may help you prevent common illnesses. Taking some echinacea now can be helpful, as can the Chinese herb astragalus. Taking vitamins C and E along with selenium and zinc daily can also offer some immune support and help clear your body of certain toxins. Some people are helped by other herbs or animal gland extracts, such as thymus, spleen, and liver.

kids playing outside in snow

#2. Stay active. Exercise is just as important during the holidays as any other time of the year. You should be active at least four to five times a week, preferably with some aerobic exercise every day. The weather may be cold outside, but the winter offers additional fun, too! Ice skating, sledding, snow sprints — all of these can be great exercise. Enlist your loved ones to join you for quality bonding time.

   As the weather cools, stretching is even more important, as is having indoor exercises you can do. Yoga and other flexibility-enhancing exercises are helpful in keeping us feeling youthful. “We are as young as our spine is flexible.” Working with weights and doing aerobic exercise is also vital to staying fit and strong to support immune function and circulation. A vital body gets sick less often. Also, meditate and explore your inner world and dreams in your restful and recharging sleep.

#3. Prevent illness and injuries.  Prepare for the cold season. Gather your fuel and food, breathe, and exercise as you should. In Chinese medicine, the fall season focuses on the lungs and large intestine. Overdoing work or eating, experiencing stress or lack of sleep, can lead to congestion and toxicity, as well as constipation and the clogging of the nose and sinuses. This can lead to upper respiratory infections as the germs grow in the mucus and then inflame the membranes. Try a facial steam and breathe in the herbal mist (you can use mints, rosemary, chamomile, lemon verbena, and other herbs) to help clear the sinuses. Staying clean and clear this season, along with a healthy immune system, will help keep you well.

   Colds and the flu are most prevalent in the winter. Prevent them by washing your hands regularly and urging others to do the same. Stay warm by dressing in layers. Sprinkle sand on icy patches. Watch young ones and assist the elderly, who are at increased risk of falls and other injuries during this time.

#4. Check your heating system. Making sure your heating works and is safe. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. Install a carbon monoxide detector and test it once a month. Keep grills and generators out of the house, and don’t run your car for long periods of time in the garage. Most residential fires also occur in the winter; never leave fireplaces, stoves, and candles unattended.

#5. Travel safely. Whether you are going down the block or halfway across the world, follow extra precautions. Give yourself plenty of time in the additional holiday traffic. Never drink and drive. Be on the lookout for reports of extreme weather and heed warnings. If you’re traveling away from home, make sure to pack and take your medications. Know how to contact your doctor when you are away and have a medical problem, and where the local ER is.

   Enjoy safe travels. Many people travel this time of year and your health and safety can be improved by preparing well and being aware and cautious. Plan your trips. Avoid dehydration and eat well, which may involve bringing water and appropriate food/snacks with you on the plane or in your car. Take a few key supplements with you to help combat germ exposures, including garlic, vitamin C, and others. You can also carry a natural hand sanitizer. Factors that can weaken immunity include stress, nutritional deficiencies, excess sugar and alcohol, and overwork. Good sleep, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and feelings of love and appreciation can also help support your immune system.

#6. De-stress. Holidays can be a stressful time. You may be working and feel the stress of managing your work duties along with additional commitments to your friends and family. You may feel the financial stress of gifts and the interpersonal stress of conflicts. Try to anticipate sources of stress and develop a plan to manage them. This may involve committing to fewer get-togethers or setting a tighter budget. Don’t feel guilty; you have to take care of yourself before you can take of others. Holiday health is important for everyone.

   Take a rest. It is important to rest when you can because the holiday season can be demanding. Do not run down your batteries before December 31. Kindle your inner flame and firepower, which is protective from the invasion of harsh climates and germs. The winter blues comes partly from a loss of this fire energy. Shifting and balancing with the seasons is vital to staying healthy.

#7. Connect with others. Depression and suicidality increase during the holidays. Watch for signs of depression among your friends and family. Take an active role to support those in need. Invite those colleagues or friends who are alone over the holidays to spend them with you. Volunteer and give to those less fortunate.

   This is a good time to deepen and clarify your love and family connections. Emotional nurturance offers a satisfaction that may allow less emotional eating and drinking and avoid the other excesses of the holidays. Be a supportive friend and ask for support if you need it. Take care of one another. Give it a try and your spirit will be calmed and can also fly free of the burdens of time.

#8. Treat yourself. The holiday spirit is about helping others around you, but you also must make time to take care of yourself. So, treat yourself with something over the holidays. It may be something as simple as sleep. Wake up late and enjoy a day of rest; you need it. How about reading that book you’ve been meaning to for a long time, or getting a manicure or massage? Take the time to do the things that make you happy.

If you feel your body isn’t handling the stress and activity of the season well, come to Shimer Chiropractic and you will gain clarity and strength again through an adjustment.

Call today for an appointment.

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