Five Health Tips for a Happier Holiday

Posted 12/17/14 by Elissa Southward in Health and Wellness

Photo CC One Planet Adventure

Walk or Roll Your Worries Away

Are the in-laws or weird Uncle Bob getting on your last nerve this holiday season? No problem! Just excuse yourself, and walk your worries away. The rhythm and repetition of exercises that use large muscle groups (e.g., walking and cycling) have a tranquilizing effect on your brain. (It’s called muscular meditation, for anyone who’s curious.) Furthermore, these types of exercises help decrease anxiety and improve sleep, both of which are musts during the holiday season. Aim for at least a half hour every day. 

Lose the Blues

Feeling a little Grinch-y? Take advantage of the many health benefits from the little (or lot of) sunshine you get during the winter months, and get outside on a trail for a walk, run or bike ride. This stimulates the production of feel-good serotonin and also helps relieve the blues some people get when the seasons change; the medical term is seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

MOVE-able Feast

Photo CC Lauren Waterman via Flickr

Turkey, ham, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, pie—oh my! Yes, even the healthiest among us are probably guilty of eating a bit more—or a lot more—than we should at some point during the holidays. So what to do?  Reap the many benefits of exercise, of course! (Are you getting a theme, here?) It may be the last thing you feel like doing when you're stressed and stuffed, but going for a walk, run or bike ride can actually make you feel better. Not only do these activities help burn off some of that excess holiday food, but they can also boost your mood for up to 12 hours. It will help give you that energy boost you need to make it through dinner with all of your relatives, and you’ll also feel a little less guilty about that second (or third) piece of pie!

Be Buzz Free

The only person who should really be working this holiday season is Santa! Try to go tech free for a few hours or even a whole day if you can manage it. Cell phone use and the stress associated with being constantly accessible by call, text and email have been linked to mental health issues (e.g., depression) and sleep disorders. Turn off the cell phone, tablet and laptop, and enjoy spending time with your family and friends without worry.

Find Your Pathway to Fitness

Photo CC Charles Smith via Flickr

The holiday season can be hectic and stressful—right about now, some of you may be yelling at your computer screen, “That’s all well and good, but where in the name of Rudolph’s red nose can I find a safe, convenient and relaxing place to walk or ride my bike regularly?" Well, I’ve got a present for you, and it’s in the form of my last quick tip of the day. Before you turn off your electronic gadgets, check out! All you have to do is type in your town or zip code, and the trails will find you! Super easy and fun!

Happy holidays—and happy trails!

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