Hints for Happy, Healthy Holidays

Sharon Rekieta, Fitness Director - 13th December 2013

Your list is long; time is short; obligations are multiplying; motivation is dwindling and you’re wondering: is it possible to regain enthusiasm, reduce stress and feel more joy this season?  The short answer is yes!  There are many ways to find happiness and restore harmony even amidst the typical hustle and bustle. 

Your first step is to realize that some things are out of your control, such as: long lines, traffic jams, and the weather.  Worrying and complaining about any of these will only add to your stress level, so it would be helpful to start practicing now to simply accept the things you cannot change.

On the other hand, most of us have complete control over much of what happens in our lives and we would all benefit from heeding at least some of the following suggestions.

Prioritize: Be like Santa, make a “to-do” list, and check it at least twice with a discerning eye.  Cross off the items that make you frown and circle the ones that bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart.  Since the circled items represent what is really important to you, they deserve most of your time and attention.

Learn to say “NO” graciously: Anxiety, irritability and fatigue frequently occur when we try to fit more obligations into an already busy schedule.  Politely decline invitations to events or gatherings that have lost their meaning so you will have time and energy for the more important celebrations. 

Express appreciation: Sometimes the best gift is a heartfelt note of thanks.  While most might expect the recipient to reap the greater reward, the sender also benefits.  Research shows that those who express positive emotions such as gratitude live up to ten years longer than those who do not express their feelings.

Stay balanced by managing your emotional reactions: When caught in a whirlwind, take a few slow, deep breaths to foster calm and regain peace of mind.  This simple method to manage stress only takes a few minutes, can be done anytime, anywhere and has positive physiological and emotional effects.

And, the number one happy, healthy, holiday hint…(you knew this was coming)…EXERCISE!  Even 10- to 15-minutes a day will help keep your energy level high and stress level low.  Below are simple ways to sneak in activity:  

Whenever possible, stand instead of sitting such as while talking on the phone, opening mail, wrapping presents, etc.
Park as far away from store entrances as possible.
Burn extra calories by power-walking the mall—with or without packages.
Stroll through your neighborhood with family or friends to view the decorations.
Personally deliver cards and invitations to those who live nearby.
Walk your dog every day—even if you don’t have a dog.
When you have only a limited amount of time for exercise—increase the intensity to maintain conditioning and get the most benefits out of the shorter session.