Why An Imperfect Holiday Is Best For Your Health


What do you consider to be the perfect holiday? Maybe there’s snow on the ground, or perhaps you’re in a tropical paradise. Is there a toasty fire and eggnog, or hot chocolate and a twinkling tree? While we may have these visions of what an idyllic holiday is supposed to look like, most of us have a much different experience. And you know what? It’s better that way.

Leave the winter wonderlands, sleigh rides and jingle bells to the songs and movies. Instead of overspending, overdoing and overeating to achieve a storybook holiday, let’s focus on enjoying, relaxing and embracing a one-of-a-kind celebration. Not only will you have more fun, your health may benefit, too.

To help you make the most of your wonderfully, imperfect holiday season, we asked Sheila Warren, RN, GMC's Wellness Navigator for simple ways to just that. With her help, we came up with these 5 tips to help you recapture the joy of the season, while also supporting your overall well-being:

1.    Reset your expectations. When it comes holiday hiccups—a burned turkey, a pet-wrecked tree, a delayed gift delivery—it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when. While we all know this, sometimes the pressure of the season gets to us and little things become big things. "Put simply, the best way to minimize frustration and disappointment: don't expect everything to go exactly according to plan," explains Sheila. Besides, the best (and most memorable) holidays are the crazy, unique and imperfect ones.

2.    Maintain healthy habits. How in the world are you supposed to get in regular exercise amidst decorating and attending seasonal parties? Simple, just don’t try to do it all. It’s okay to not put up every last decoration, or not attend every single party on your calendar. Don’t be afraid to choose your health over other holiday to-dos. "That means following your usual schedule for meals, exercise and sleep," says Sheila. "These simple, yet essential, habits will help you to feel your best all season so you can enjoy every last part."

3.    Create new traditions. The holidays are known for being a time filled with family traditions. But there’s no reason you can’t marry time-old traditions with a fresh, new take on things. Don’t be afraid to mix things up and try something new. Sure, it may not be perfect, but you’ll make fun memories in the process. " You can try making homemade decorations, play a new board game, watch a favorite movie or sing Christmas-carol karaoke," adds Sheila

4.    Prep your party strategy. Just the thought of holiday treats is enough to get most of our tummies rumbling. And once you smell those delicious dishes—game over. Who can resist the sweet smell of freshly-baked cookies? That right there is exactly why it’s important to have a game plan before you arrive at a food-filled party. "One of the best things you can do is to grab a healthy snack beforehand, so you won’t arrive ravenous," emphasizes Sheila. "Once you’re at the party, scope out the food table and decide what you’ll eat before you start filling your plate."

5.    Don’t overspend on gifts. All of those online deals are hard to resist—BOGO, 40% off, Rewards Cash—yes, please! But before you know it, you’ve spent more than your fair share of the holiday budget because things add up quickly. And we get it; you just want to get the perfect gifts for everyone on your list, don’t we all? Instead of adding more and more to your shopping cart, "try making something homemade," says Sheila, "or donate to a special cause on their behalf." A thoughtful and meaningful gift goes a long way.

6.    Just enjoy yourself. Unfortunately, it isn’t just the salty, sugary foods that are hard on you. Or that extra gift you spent money on. It’s the guilt and hardship many of us experience afterwards. "We can be tough on ourselves," explains Sheila, "and this only spikes stress, anxiety and disappointment." So instead of pressuring yourself to not falter on your diet or budget, embrace the indulgence. "When you relax and let yourself celebrate your brain actually increases oxytocin, noradrenaline and endorphins, all of which boost happiness, energy and bonding," notes Sheila. Plus, these hormones also support physical health, too.

Have a holly jolly holiday. December doesn’t just mean dancing sugar plums and roasting chestnuts, it also means stomach bugs, the cold and flu, and seasonal stress. But just because there are a few health hurdles, doesn’t mean you have to miss all of the fun and festivities. Whether you’re in search of healthful information, preventative care or recommendations for diagnostics and treatment, GMC’s Wellness Navigator is prepared to offer the support and guidance you need. This holiday season, let GMC’s health experts keep you and your family feeling merry and bright.

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