Our goal of Healthy Holidays and Beyond begins by addressing the physical aspect of the holiday season – the extra food, the neglect of exercise, and the realization that these choices can significantly contribute to the demise of our joy.
After years of struggling with depression and having the holidays be the lowest point of the year, I finally realized this startling truth and began to understand how diet and exercise played a huge role in my mood & energy.
We simply cannot escape the fact that the choices we make regarding our physical bodies directly and significantly impact mood and energy level.
- 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut. (Note: Serotonin is a chemical created by the human body that works as a neurotransmitter. It is regarded by some researchers as a chemical that is responsible for maintaining mood balance, and that a deficit of serotonin leads to depression.)
If your digestion isn’t healthy, what impact might this have on your mental health?
- Dietary choices can bring about changes in your brain structure (chemically and physiologically), which can lead to altered behavior.
Is it possible that there are dietary changes you can make to achieve a more consistent mood?
What could 20-30 minutes, 3 days a week do to improve your energy levels?
Is there a way to establish a more consistent level of sleep for the benefit of improving your ability to think clearly?
Can you add just a glass or two more of water a day to improve your mood and energy?
These same basic principles operate uniquely within every person. The more and longer we neglect this impact, the increased likelihood of ill physical and mental health.
What benefit is this knowledge as we enter the busy and stressful holiday season?
Of course, the goal is a consistently healthy lifestyle all year long, but maintaining is certainly more difficult during the holidays regardless of individual levels of diligence and self-control. Incorporating the following tips can help you maintain physical and mental health during the holidays and beyond.
- Eat healthy food first. Choose fruit and veggies before heading to the dips, sauces and sweets. You’re sure to eat less of the unhealthy stuff when you eat the good stuff first.
- Find creative ways to be active. Park in the farthest spot from the entrance to the store. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Commit to a certain number of push-ups or sit-ups a day. You’ll be amazed at the impact of these small steps.
- Be diligent about rest & sleep. As much as possible, stick to a normal sleep schedule and have regular down time to rest. Don’t be afraid to take short power naps either.
- Drink more water. Comparable only to the impact of adequate sleep, staying hydrated significantly benefits mental and physical health. If you incorporate no other tips, drink more water and get enough rest.
- Take some basic supplements. A good multi-vitamin and a probiotic are likely to benefit everyone. You might be surprised at the changes you’ll feel mentally and physically after just a couple of weeks of taking them.
While these tips may not produce completely transformed health during the holidays, they will provide the small steps needed for a healthier lifestyle. Having this core base of health allows for flexibility in your diet and schedule, which often occurs during the holidays. It also provides the ability to rebound more quickly after the busy season abates.
You may not be able to control what is available to eat at parties or the busyness of the season, but you can do a lot to find more balance during the holidays. Be determined to control what you can by taking small steps toward a healthier you.
DISCUSSION: What small step can you incorporate immediately? Have you noticed food impacting mood & energy?