By Maya Lightfoot, PSP Ottawa Health Promotion –
The Holidays are fast approaching and many things seem to fall out of “wack” during this time… Stress levels may be rising, eating and drinking increase due to holiday parties, physical and mental fitness get forgotten or “put off”, and you get off track. Why wait till the 1st of January to “resolve” and get back on track? Whether it is for managing stress levels, eating better or drinking more responsibly, the key to successful resolutions is to create a routine that you can stick to over the long haul.
A lot of what we do every day are habits (i.e., the side you sleep on, brushing your teeth before you leave the house, the time you drink your coffee, the route you take to get to work). To create new heathy habits, associating or exchanging that new healthy habit to a stable one is the best way to go. Here are some helpful, simple ways to maintain or upgrade your current physical and mental health throughout the year:
- Efficient stress management
There are many ways to manage stress, you just need to pick one that suits your “style”.
- Deep breathing exercises are very effective at inducing the relaxation response in the body. Perhaps do some deep breathing in the shower, during your daily commute, or every time you sit down at your desk. It also helps you fall asleep faster, which we all know is paramount to keep our stress levels in check.
- Mindfulness is also a very effective stress management technique. It’s all about being in the moment, and focusing on one thing at a time. One can be mindful during a meal, at their desk, before bed and even first thing in the morning by staying still and listening to the sounds of their surrounding environment.
- Another great, proven way to manage stress is physical activity. This can be as simple as walking for 30 minutes a few times a week, getting off the bus two stops early, taking the stairs, or park as far as you can from the grocery store’s entrance. In order to become active for life, the aim is consistency, convenience and enjoyment. This way, physical activity becomes an integral part of your day, instead of an additional “chore”, and you won’t need to buy a gym membership if that’s not your thing!
- Enjoyable nutritious eating
When we eat, the foods we eat, the decisions we make with regards to what we buy at the grocery store… How can we make eating a healthier habit?
- Let’s start from the beginning: buying food. We tend to buy the same things every time we go shopping. Try a new route in the store, pick new fruits and veggies to start. Avoid some aisles that display the less healthy choices like cookies and chips. It’s a great way to control what you bring back home to eat!
- Do you have an eating pattern? Keep that pattern, but replace one unhealthy snack (maybe a chocolate bar or high-sugar smoothie) with a new fruit you bought at the store and add nuts to it.
- At meals, fill half your plate with the new vegetables you bought, instead of half of your plate with a huge hunk of meat. Easy? Again, consistency is the key to healthy eating habits. If you are trying to reduce your weight, start by finding one unhealthy habit that might be contributing to the extra pounds, and test one alternative that could help counteract weight gain. By replacing pop with sparkling water, you cut down 150 calories; by switching from a chocolate bar to an apple, you shave off 400 calories. By taking 400 calories out of your daily diet, you could lose 40 pounds by the end of the year thanks to that one daily switch. Worth it?
- Responsible drinking
One more thing that tends to happen during the holidays is the overconsumption of alcohol. Most parties, events and celebrations include alcohol. Refer to the Low Risk Drinking Guidelines to make sure your liver and overall health can enjoy the party as well.
- Set limits for yourself and stick to them.
- Drink slowly. Have no more than two drinks in any given three hours. For every drink of alcohol, have one non-alcoholic drink.
- Eat before and while you are drinking.
That could really improve your chances of reducing your risk of certain cancers and other health issues, as well as any risks related to your safety and the safety of others.
For more information on each of these topics, please come visit Health Promotion and sign up for a workshop!
This post is also available in: Français (French)