Ahh, the Holiday season has arrived.Laughing, singing, family time, Christmas cookies and of course, stress Two of my favorite holiday movies this time of year, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and Jingle All The Way really provide a snapshot of what a lot of people go through during the holidays. For those of you unfamiliar, both movies chronicle the journeys of two dads trying to give their family the perfect holiday. Clark Griswold, trying to have the perfect Christmas, entertaining his whole family under one roof ( also while anticipating a sizeable bonus) and Howard Langston on the endless hunt to get his hands on a turbo man action figure for his son. Both characters classically portray the trials and tribulations that come with the holiday season( embellished a bit for entertainment purposes of course ) as classically shown by there wide eyes, loud outbursts, and questionable behavior. As both movies show .. they both struggled with managing the stresses that come with the season
The stress that comes with the holidays can be very damaging to your health. It can cause your body to produce cortisol, which can intern cause you to lose sleep, as well as gain weight. On top of that, all the partying, excessive eating and drinking can cause many people more stress, as the thought of having to deal with the lasting consequences of there Holiday indulgences. Unfortunately, in this most stressful time, it can be easy to forget about your health.
But can you enjoy the holidays and be healthy?
It starts with scheduling !. Use a schedule book, paper calendar or calendar app and “make appointments” for YOU TIME. Then put a copy in places you‘ll be forced to look at it every day or set alerts on your phone. This is a powerful tip that will keep you focused on staying healthy and stress-free while enjoying the holidays.
Even with planning, free time can still be a precious commodity, but so is keeping your body healthy and moving. The key thing to remember is that your movement time DOES NOT have to be consecutive. 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, it all adds up. Choose activities that are easy to do at a moment’s notice such as walking at lunch or after dinner, taking the stairs, parking farther away or riding a bike to various holiday errands ( when it’s not too cold that is). Also wear a pedometer/ load a movement app to your smartphone /dust off that Fitbit / keep track of your steps as you’re running around, and see how many steps you can accumulate to keep your self-accountable. Make it a game, always try to get one more step each day. You don’t have to work up a sweat .. you just have to move. Aim for 30 non-consecutive movement minutes a day.
But just sneaking in movement won’t be enough to help out with the stresses and extra calorie consumption. But it as is the case all year long, it isn’t always easy to squeeze in gym time. So instead you can sneak in resistance exercises during your regular daily activities. Whether you are waiting for copies, sending a fax, or cooking dinner, do some bodyweight exercises when you have a couple of minutes. Try doing push-ups off the counter, or squats and lunges, while you’re standing around waiting for that, must have toy for your kids/grandkids. Those shopping bags also make great tools for biceps curls and farmers carry.
Above all else, make it fun! A great way to stay active is to plan activities into your holiday gatherings, such as Christmas caroling or taking a group stroll to admire Christmas lights in your area. And if your lucky enough to have some white stuff laying around, go out sledding, snowshoeing or visit your local ice rink. Picking and chopping down your own Christmas tree can also cause enough exertion to get your heart rate going.
Had Clark and Howard had some of this knowledge, maybe their holidays wouldn’t have been so stressful ( but we also wouldn’t have had two very entertaining movies). But your holiday season does not have to be like that of a funny Christmas Comedy. With a little planning and sneaking in extra movement, you too can have a very joyous and stress-free holiday season!