By Megan Reece
Christmas is a stressful time for some people. With shopping, cooking, visiting and wrapping presents, time that is already short is stretched even thinner.
You know that constant stress is anything but healthful. Long-term, low level stress has been attributed to high blood pressure, a higher risk of contracting colds and the flu, headaches and intestinal – ahem – issues. Constant stress will not help you with your workouts or with healthful eating either.
Enter a new kind of Christmas season. A lot of how we experience the holidays is based on attitude. If you are searching for the Norman Rockwell, picturesque, perfect Christmas morning, throw that image out the window. Expecting more of yourself and of your friends and family than they can give will only bring you disappointment. Instead, take some time to really cherish those you love. An evening of Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit will bring you closer and will help you to experience the positive aspects of the season.
Don’t be afraid to cut corners when possible. Instead of intricately wrapping the gifts that will only be torn open in just a matter of days, invest in a few gift bags. You can re-use them, too; something that cannot be said of giftwrap.
If you are having family over for dinner, consider making it a potluck. You can provide the main dish and the beverages and let your loved ones bring the rest. This is also a good way to try out new dishes and recipes.
It might be a bit late for this year, but for future holiday seasons, consider shopping online if you’re not much of a mall person. Comparison shopping for the best deal is incomparably easier with a mouse and a keyboard.
If food and a general lack of time for physical activity is a problem for you during the Christmas season, find little ways to sneak things into your daily routine. Instead of doing 30 straight minutes of exercise, split them into three 10-minute intervals over the course of your day. Or set an alarm on your computer at work, and every hour get up and do a quick lap around the office. This extra activity really adds up.
For quick and healthful snacks, consider nature’s convenience foods that happen to be in season right now. Cutie oranges are cheap, small and very moveable. Keep a bag at home and at the office. Nuts are in season and can be found at lower prices than usual at this time of year. Also keep 100-calorie bags of microwave popcorn on hand for fast, filling snacks that provide you with enough energy to get through your evening workouts.
Finally, go easy on yourself during this season. If you love sugar cookies, eat them when they’re available and enjoy! Christmas comes only once a year and it’s good to celebrate without guilt.