Continue Your Healthy Days into the Holidays

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I love the holiday season and the memories from my childhood that it reminds me of. Today, I think about spending time with family, and the time I will have off from my graduate school studies. The holidays can also be hectic and stressful at times if you let them. So many nurses find this to be their most stressful time of the year. With trying to manage their career schedules, family demands, and bringing it all together can be hard on anyone.

There are also the constant parties to go to with treats and other temptations you may not usually indulge in.  Today, I want to talk to you about some ways to stay healthy this holiday season so you can be present with the ones you love and not sacrifice your health in the process. I want you to see the holidays as healthy-days, not unhealthy-days.

Shop online – This is becoming more popular. I know it is like a tradition for many people including some of my family members to go out shopping on Black Friday. I do not like to shop for anything in the store when it is very busy, and people up their rushing to a whole new level during the holidays. I prefer to shop online in the convenience and comfort of my own home.

The rush-rush of shopping during the holidays makes it more likely to find yourself in bad situations since people are pushier in the stores, in the parking lots at the store, and on the roads. I prefer to stay out of their way. This helps me with stress. When I shop, I like to take my time and not feel like somebody is pushing me along or zooming past me around every corner I turn in the store. Also, there are tons of great deals online these days.

Avoid the treats – I know this is a hard one and I struggle with it every year myself during the holidays. The massive number of goodies available at holiday parties and at the hospital or office where you work. You try to resist, but everybody is telling you “come one it is the holidays, live a little and have some fun” One treat turns into twenty. You may say “it will not hurt if I have one” Yes, it will. The reason I say that is sugar is addictive. Every time you taste it, you will have to fight even harder to keep from eating the next one. It turns on that dopamine, feel-good receptors in your brain, and you just want more and more of it. Have you heard the saying, “I bet you can't just eat one” Well, that applies with yummy holiday treats.

 I know it is tough but avoid the treats at work and minimize the treats at holiday parties. Make sure you are bringing your lunch to work and not getting hungry where you will be tempted and make sure you have eaten a decent meal before you go to holiday parties, so you are not there starving and regret it later. Many will say you can indulge now and fix all of this with your New Years resolutions. How often does this work for you? Studies do show the majority of people quit their New Year's resolutions before February.

Keep Stress low – I know, easier said than done. You can start with doing some of your shopping online as we talked about before. This will minimize the situations you may be exposed to with other people who are stressed. Make sure you are eating nutritious food, performing your self-care, and not eating a lot of sweets. This will help you avoid mood swings and hypoglycemia episodes. Remember each day you need to be relaxing and filling your tank.

If you are always stressed and pouring out to others, you will eventually run out of gas.  Also, another piece of advice is it is OK to say “no.” If you are invited to ten parties in a two-week time frame, it is OK to pick two and go to those. Make sure you are spending the time to recharge, and you are not always in the social scene or at work during this holiday season.

Minimize Spending – I have never been a fan of guessing what to buy someone for Christmas or giving them a gift to say I gave them a gift. In other words, checking the box. I do enjoy giving others a gift if I know they will get some utility out of it or maybe it is something they would enjoy and would not think to buy it for themselves. I did this for my mom’s Fit-bit Alta on her birthday. I knew she would love it, so I was happy to get her one for her birthday.

As a family, we might spend three to five hundred at Christmas on other family members. We do not want Christmas to be all about giving others stuff they may not need or can use.  Also, it is hard to start the New Year in debt or have a big bill from the credit card company come in when you are looking forward to starting a new year in January.

Spend time with Family – take this time to connect with the ones you love. It is being shown more and more that relationships are extremely important for our health. I see this in a hospital where one patient has no body, and another has fifteen family members coming to see them. Social support and relationships are huge. So, do whatever you have to do to be able to take Thanksgiving Day and Christmas day off from work. Work nights around that time or do what I do and work New Year's Eve and day. This has always helped me to get those holidays off. It is not much about New Years I need to be off for except that I am excited to start the New Year and reach the goals I have set for myself.

The holidays should be a time of joy and family, but our culture has made it expensive, fast-paced, and stressful at times. You do not have to conform to the culture of everything. Following the crowd during the Holidays is what can get you into trouble.  This applies to food as well. If you eat like most people and follow the Standard American Diet (SAD), you will be sick and have a low-quality life like most people as they get into their sixties and seventies. Choose a different path where you are intentional and take action to ensure you take care of yourself to ensure you are living your best life well into your eighties and even nineties, and beyond. I know you can do it, and I am here to help.

Let me know what you are doing this holiday season to ensure you stay healthy or at least minimize setbacks in your health. Please share them in the comments below or on the Facebook page so I can learn from you and others can learn from you as well. I hope you have a safe and healthy holiday season. Stay tuned for more articles on how you can make this holiday season your healthiest ever and give you a leg up in the New Year.

Have a healthy week!

Nurse Brian