5 Tips for staying healthy over the Festive Season

5 Tips for staying healthy over the Festive Season

Aaah, the holidays. A time of indulgence, where justifying having just one more plate comes easy. There are however some very easy ways to try and celebrate in a more healthy way without sacrificing fun.

Stay hydrated:
It sounds obvious, but how many times do we start off with good intentions only to wake up the next day feeling worse for wear? Make sure you have some water on you during the day and take regular sips, even on the days you don’t have anything planned. This will make sure your body stays hydrated. If you’re having any alcoholic drinks, make sure you have a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you have. Not only will your body thank you for it, if you’re out having drinks, your wallet will thank you too.

Choose healthy options:
If you’re making a big feast, make sure you include some healthy options. Not everything on the table has to indulgent. Include plenty of veggies and make sure you have plenty of greens as well to have along with your roast. Same goes for any festive parties if you’re somewhere where this can be done safely. If you know you’ve got a work function or catch up with friends but you’re unsure if there will be any healthy food options, make sure you eat before you arrive. That way you can have a few bites, but you won’t be so hungry that you end up eating too many unhealthy treats.

Don’t give up:
Just because you had one (ok, maybe more than one) days of unhealthy eating and little movement doesn’t mean you now have to give up trying to be a little healthier. Just accept that sometimes we might want to enjoy a special occasion with friends and family and can’t always make sure there are healthy options available. The next day get back to your usual healthy food choices and make sure to get some exercise in. Life’s all about balance.

Move your body:
Many of us tend to exercise less over the festive period due to an increase of parties. This year however we might be spending less time socialising and more time at home due to current Covid-19 restrictions. It’s tempting to limit our movements from the chair where we’re working from home to the couch where we’re watching Love Actually for the 4th time this week, but getting some movement each day will help you feel energised and during your day and a lot less guilty when you have your advent calendar chocolate each night. You don’t need a gym membership or even need to head outside to be active. Put on your favourite playlist and have a solo dance party at home, or hop onto YouTube and choose one of the many free workout or yoga classes available there. There’s also plenty local yoga teachers and fitness instructors who are offering online options for their classes.

You can’t eat it if you haven’t bought it:
How many of us buy treats with the idea that we’ll spread it out over the next few weeks and then find ourselves 20 minutes later with it all in our bellies? We’ve all been there and the current uncertainty around lockdowns and restrictions isn’t helping. The best advice someone once gave me was that if you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it. I make sure to make some healthier sweet treat options (recipe for my raw chocolate brownies here), but they’re usually quite filling and rich in fiber which means you can’t eat too many. There are no lollies or chips or cookies in my cupboards, mainly because I know if it’s there, I’d be snacking on unhealthy treats all day. Instead, if that 3pm sweet treat craving hits, I’ll first have a glass of water as often I’m actually thirsty, not hungry. If that doesn’t do the trick, I’ll have some fruit or one of my healthier sweet treats to tie me over.

While these tips are relatively easy to incorporate, the most important thing to remember is that if you do happen to overindulge, accept it and move on. There’s no point in obsessing over it or remaining negative about it. We’re all human. Instead focus on moving forward and getting back to incorporating a healthy diet and movement into your day.

Ideas to help you celebrate a very different festive season

Ideas to help you celebrate a very different festive season

Many of us are facing cancelled holiday plans this year. Some of us might have the city or country they live in on lockdown, others might live far away from family and won’t be able to travel due to restrictions. This doesn’t mean you have to cancel the holiday season and can’t have fun with friends and family, even if you’re celebrating away from each other. Not sure how to do it? My husband and I have been celebrating the holidays on our own ever since moving overseas and we’ve come up with a few of our own traditions over the years to make the season feel more magical. Most of these tips are based on celebrating Yule / Christmas, but you can easily adjust them to fit Hanukkah or any other festive celebration. Here are some ideas on celebrating away from friends and family:

Decorate your space:
You might not have anyone come over this year or only have people in your bubble pop by, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still decorate. Getting cosy each night (even here in Australia when we usually have to have the aircon on) with the tree lights and candles really help shift my mood. Get all your favourite decorations out. The added bonus is you can decorate however you want without judgement from others. If you’re sharing a space with family, house or flat mates, make a fun evening out of it. If you’re living on your own, see who else is keen to decorate their spaces and do it together online, or take each other on a little decor tour afterwards.

Share your favourite Christmas cookie or hot recipes and make them:
Whether it’s with family or friends, or both, share your favourite holiday cookie or hot chocolate recipes and choose a date when you all will make the same one. Hop online either during the baking / making process or afterwards to rate each recipe. Once you’ve made them all, crown an overall winner at the end.

Watch your favourite holiday movie and share it:
It’s not Christmas unless I’ve watched Die Hard and Love Actually. Put on the Christmas lights, grab some festive snacks and pop on your favourite festive movie. Even better, get your family and friends to contribute to a list of their favourite Christmas movies so you can all watch each other’s suggestions. You might even find a new Christmas favourite.

Create a festive playlist:
If you can, share a playlist with your friends or family and get everyone to add their favourite holiday songs. It’s a great way to set the mood while also connecting with family and friends who may be far away. You can listen to it while wrapping gifts or cooking dinner in the weeks leading up to Christmas to help create a festive atmosphere, especially if you’re limited to going out.

Share holiday traditions:
There might be some traditions you’ll have to miss out on this year, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t do some of the others. One of my holiday traditions my husband was happy for us to incorporate was celebrating on Christmas eve. It’s just so much more magical at night with the candle and Christmas lights, not to mention it’s usually a little bit cooler at night in the Southern Hemisphere which makes it much easier to eat anything warm. Get your friends and family to share their favourite holiday traditions and see if there are any new ones you might want to incorporate. This year you might decide to go for an early morning walk come Christmas day when it’s relatively quiet outside or make a new dish for dinner (maybe one you’ve secretly been hoping to have for years on Christmas). If you’re living with others, it might be fun to dress up, either in silly Santa hats or what you were hoping to wear to the Christmas party this year.

Use this time for some introspection:
Take this time to sit down and reflect on the unusual year that was, and make a list of all the things you’re also grateful for. We often focus much more on the things that go wrong than the good things in our life. If you like you can ask friends and family to share what they’re grateful for this year as well and create a little list to keep and look back on next year.

Support small, local businesses for holiday gifts:
In areas that have had (and that are currently having) strict lockdowns, many small, local businesses have suffered. So instead of hopping onto Amazon or one of the big retailer’s websites, why not get friends and family something local? Maybe a voucher form their favourite restaurant for a pick up dinner, festive candles from a local maker or a hamper filled with delicious local treats. If they’re living close to you and you’re allowed to see each other, you can always drop off the gifts in person and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate together outside (or maybe a cold chocolate milk if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere).

Do a fun holiday activity with the kids each weekend in December leading up to Christmas:
If you have children, use this time together to start some fun holiday traditions leading up to Christmas. Pick one night or day each weekend to do something together as a family, whether it’s decorating Christmas cookies together, watching a favourite Christmas movie, making Christmas decorations for the tree or hand making cards for grandparents or their friends. It can be challenging when you’re spending all this time together indoors day after day, but creating a special day each weekend gives them something to during this time of year.

Make your Zoom calls festive:
I know, Zoom fatigue is real but put a festive spin on your next quiz night. You can theme the quiz along holiday traditions around the world or Christmas facts not everyone might know. End the evening with a festive drink and chat. The same goes for on the day itself. You can do a Christmas meal together via Zoom, where everyone sits down and eat together or organise a virtual festive happy hour with friends. Dress up for the occasion, whether it’s all glitz and glam or wearing your best ugly Christmas sweater. Make them fun.

Head outside if you can and watch the Christmas lights:
Heading outside is so good for our mental health. Check with the local safety guidelines first before venturing out as there might be rules with regards to how far you can travel and for how long. If it’s quiet outside and the weather isn’t too bad, grab a hot chocolate and go for a walk through your neighbourhood to see if any of your neighbours put up Christmas lights. Alternatively, if you have a car you can go for a ride to look at the lights. Even if it’s chilly outside, going out and getting some fresh air always helps to improve my mood. If you can’t head outside, open a window for a short while or find a spot near the window to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate (or your favourite festive beverage) and just enjoy some time looking outside.

Make time for some festive self care:
Even though there might be less travel stress and family gathering anxiety this holidays, there might be some completely different stressors for you. Make sure you set time aside to practice self care as well. Treat yourself to spending some time being cosy reading, or a relaxing bubble bath or by making your favourite meal. Perhaps you’d like to dance to a playlist that reminds you of happier times, or you want to light some candles and watch a movie that always leaves you feeling happy. Do something for you that lift your spirits.

While this year has no doubt been incredibly challenging for most of us, and it will probably make the holidays a little bit more challenging, know that this is hopefully only temporary. If we all do our part, we can hopefully celebrate together again next year.