Tips to stay healthy over Christmas
Christmas comes loaded with the siren call of many wants. This year may be different though, as COVID-19 is still very much around making everyone slow down, all fully aware of the need to practise social distancing and sanitising.
Staying healthy during COVID-19 should be a top priority, not only at Christmas but well into 2021. Yes, there is news of a possible vaccine, but that doesn’t mean we should forgo the health warnings and precautions. Even if you aren’t afraid of contracting the coronavirus, be vigilant for those who are high risk and may not recover from it.
There are things you need to do to keep your mind and body healthy over the festive season, and one of those is practising self-care. A 2017 Harvard Health Blog report by David R. Topor says that along with the excitement and preparations for gatherings and taking care of others, come stress and a range of positive and negative emotions.
Amid all the hustle and bustle, Topor suggests that you carve out space every day at the same time and set an alarm to remind you that you should engage in self-care activities, which could be exercise, meditation, reading, practising mindfulness or a hobby you enjoy. Or just do deep breathing or some other relaxation skills.
It is also essential to express gratitude to others for being in your life. This expression of appreciation for your daily life and times should be written down in a journal. And tackle positive or negative emotions or stresses that may surface by writing down thoughts, rather than allowing them to overwhelm you.
Topor says it is essential to take care of your physical health, get enough sleep and eat a nutritious diet. But, also enjoy the festivities by living fully in the present and taking in your environment, the sights, sounds, smells as “this may help you more fully appreciate and find meaning this holiday season”.
Balance and exercise
Balance the eating, drinking, exercising and being merry.
Enjoy the special Christmas foods and treats in moderation, but also plan to eat a nutritious diet for the rest of the festive season. Good health can still be maintained amid the preparations, cooking, traditions and gatherings by ensuring that you plan a daily routine that you stick to.
With extra activities and company, going to the gym is not always possible but don’t be deterred. Do simple exercises at home; take time to go for a run, walk, swim or cycle.
In a Forbes Life report, writer Noma Nazish suggests that you should reinvent your holiday work-out by doing a 15-minute work-out in the morning and evening or go for a 10-minute walk twice daily instead of doing the usual 30-minute routine. The aim is to “split your physical activity into smaller, more manageable time intervals. If you don’t have time to hit the gym, work-out in the comfort of your home with the help of online tutorials and fitness apps like Carrot Fit and Fitocracy.”
Nazish also recommends adequate sleep to let your body recover. Practise self-care and take time to relax and unwind by doing “at least one thing every day that makes you truly happy”. This activity could be reading a book, watching a movie or just relaxing in the shade.
Hydrate over Christmas
Stay hydrated by drinking lots of plain or infused water as you spend time wrapping presents, decorating, planning menus or preparing food. Water is vital to body functions such as cell fluid maintenance and delivering nutrients, among others. A nutrition expert advised Nazish that the intake of high-calorie drinks like eggnog, martinis and margaritas should be limited. “Try alternating with glasses of water in between your cocktails. Your body will thank you for it the next morning!”
Snacks and portions
Chew slowly or mindfully with breaks in between courses so that you get that signal of fullness and don’t pile on second helpings. Have one or two small desserts and don’t sample all the treats on offer.
Boosting the immune system with vitamin C and vitamin A by eating a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables is essential, while a handful of nuts and seeds daily is an excellent disease fighter because they contain immune-boosting minerals such as zinc and selenium.
A Times of India report suggests that when planning festive meals, substitute ingredients, snack on nuts to feel full, replace sugar with dates and berries, and avoid salt and deep-fried food, although favourite deep-fried recipes can now be made in air-fryers.
Before making any huge dietary, exercise or health-related decisions, the best thing to do is to speak to a medical professional. This can get costly, but that is why Affinity Health is here to make healthcare and advice accessible and affordable.
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