Health and the Holidays
It's the most wonderful time of the year. If you're somewhere in the Northeast like me, you're probably reading this while enjoying the snow-covered views outside. Despite the constant time with friends, family, festivities, and plenty of food and drinks, the holidays can bring a lot of stress. From a health and wellness standpoint, this is also where people tend to fall apart. Here are some "hacks" I use to help you thrive during the holidays.
1. Beat stress
In 2019, 74% of people report feeling stressed to the point of being overwhelmed. Stress levels have been increasing at alarming rates, and the holidays are known for bringing about financial stress, travel stress, family stress, etc. For more on the consequences of stress, stay tuned for another upcoming post!
To reduce stress, I really like to drink a cup of hot tea at night (typically chamomile), and occasionally I'll add a cup of green tea during the day. Both these teas help reduce stress levels through the antioxidants they provide, and I've noticed that chamomile tea helps me sleep better at night.
On the topic of sleep: most of us don't get enough good, quality sleep at night, and we're miserable the next day because of it. As a Resident Assistant at my college, I've lost count of the number of nights I've slept less than 5 hours and had to stay focused and productive the following day. If sleep is an issue for you, try cooling your room to 66-70 degrees at night. Additionally, make sure your room is as dark as you can make it (I've resorted to covering lights from my thermostat and power strips with black electric tape, and it makes a huge difference). Avoid electronics 1-2 hours before bed, and if you have to use them, try some blue light blocking glasses (as mentioned on my Instagram, I'm still searching for the best company to partner with to bring you blue light blocking glasses). Finally, mouth taping has worked wonders for me over the past couple of months. I struggle with mouth breathing at night, which can limit the benefits of sleep. Taping your mouth shut prevents mouth breathing and forces normal nasal breathing. There's a variety of mouth taping strips you can find online - it's important to use a micropore tape specific for the mouth (no need to break out that roll of duct tape).
After a restful night's sleep, I find it's helpful to start the day with a set routine. This routine does not have to last long (mine lasts ~15 minutes), but it's simply a mindless daily regimen to help you mentally prepare for the day ahead. I've used meditation, prayer, reading, deep breathing, journaling, yoga, and walks every morning in the past, and now find that a combination of several works best for me. Give them a try and see what works best for you! If you need a morning stretching routine, head over to one of my recent Instagram posts here.
2. Beat sugar
Regardless of what sweets you're enjoying this holiday season, it's important to limit yourself slightly. I am a huge advocate for enjoying food during the holidays -one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is always my piece of warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream. However, I limit myself to one slice and don't take the whole pie. During the holidays, take time to enjoy those treats, but set a limit for yourself. Maybe stop after 3 Christmas cookies or one slice of Hannukah cake. Again, it's important to enjoy your meal (holidays only come once per year), just make sure you stay in control!
3. Beat travel
Anytime the holidays are around, people are traveling. Roads get busy, flights sell out, and people are on the move in general. Long days traveling can take a toll on the body.
If you're driving, try to take a break every hour to stand up, walk around, and stretch. Yes, this may add a few minutes to your overall travel time, but it will keep you pain-free through a long car ride and help negate the negative effects of sitting for too long. I try and do this on my drives between home and college, which are typically around 3 hours long. I find it helps me stay focused, alert, and awake while driving as well!
If you're flying, ensure you stay hydrated. I always travel with two stainless steel water bottles so I'm prepared for the flight ahead. Additionally, most flyers like to chew gum to help with the pressure in their ears. I highly recommend using natural gum, such as pur aspartame-free gum or something similar. Most chewing gums are filled with artificial flavors and sweeteners, which have a negative impact on the body. I'll get into how much I dislike artificial ingredients later, as well as my own pre-flight and post-flight regimen to beat jet lag in a few weeks when I fly to Florida.
There you have it - a short guide to help you beat the biggest issues during the holidays. I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season, and thank you for your support of brawn body training! We are committed to bringing you health and wellness with the safest and most effective methods known, and look forward to helping you crush all your fitness goals!