FOCUS ON WELLNESS

Start healthy holiday traditions

Here are strategies designed to lower stress without skimping on seasonal fun

Woman baking with her children

Image credit: GETTY IMAGES

This information is provided to Johns Hopkins employees through a partnership with EHP.

December can be stressful. It often brings extra social and financial obligations. It can cause a breakdown of healthy eating and exercise habits. It also can leave you feeling lonely or depressed. But you can adopt some new traditions that may help ease the season's stress and make your holidays healthy and happy.

Your physical health

When the holidays become more than you bargained for, your health can be compromised. And stress can put extra demands on your body. Here are some tips on keeping up your health during the holiday season:

Don't do too much. Give yourself some time to relax.

Share the workload. Let everyone play an active role. Make the holidays a family affair so you're not burdened with all the work.

Set priorities. You can't do everything. Say no to some of the demands on your time.

Simplify your life. Be less elaborate this year. Relax your housekeeping and holiday preparations.

Continue to exercise. Don't let your regular routine lapse.

Eat healthy foods. Limit your consumption of high-fat holiday treats. Serve healthy fare at your holiday party.

Your emotional health

It's easy to become overwrought this time of year, especially if you believe something is lacking in your holiday celebration. Here are some ways to create new holiday traditions that will help level your emotions:

Ask yourself if you really enjoy all the rituals. Perhaps they have merely become habits. Try choosing the less elaborate traditions of holidays past.

Don't be afraid to scale down gift giving. You'll probably get a lot of support.

If your yearly party is too much to handle but you don't want to abandon it, put it off until after the holidays. This will give you more time to prepare. It will also help ease post-holiday letdown by giving you something fun to look forward to.

If you can't be with your family, get out and around other people. Plan to be with friends or volunteer to help others who also may be separated from their families.

Happy and healthy kids

Children are especially vulnerable to commercial stimuli during the holiday season. But basically, all that kids really need are realistic expectations about gifts, an even-paced holiday season, and strong, loving family traditions. Here are some ways to make the holidays special for your family:

Spend more time with your kids. Entertain less and go to fewer parties that exclude children.

Watch less TV and do more things as a family.

Include your kids in all preparations. Let your children help you decorate and bake, even if it means your creations aren't perfect.

Teach children the meaning of giving. Adopt a needy family and have your kids help you make a meal for them. Suggest that your children buy a gift for an underprivileged child with their own money. Or ask them to donate one of their own gifts to a less fortunate child.

Teach your children that gifts don't have to be tangible. Trade intangible gifts with each other, such as helping with homework, washing the dishes, and doing yard work. Let your children come up with their own ideas of what they can offer.

If you give a few of these tips a try, you may even start some new holiday traditions.

Posted in Health+Wellness

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