Seven tips for a healthier holiday season

The end-of-year holiday period is a chance to unwind, take a break from routine and refresh yourself for the new year ahead. For many it’s also a time of decadence, full of rich food and lazy days spent with family and friends.

So how can we keep up healthy holiday habits when we’re not sticking to our regular routine? Here are our top tips for maintaining wellness over the holidays, so you can start the new year feeling like your best self.

1. Be kind to yourself

Just as important as our physical health is looking after our mental wellbeing. If you’re left feeling completely worn out by the end of the year, you’re not alone. Spending time with family and friends, some gentle exercise and taking some time out for yourself are all positive forms of ‘self-care’. So, don’t beat yourself up for taking a break, placing your focus on self-care and stepping out of your regular routine for a period of time.

2. Eat mindfully

It is ok to treat yourself during the festive season, particularly on Christmas day. But it’s also important to be mindful about what we are eating. A day of festive food is okay, just try not to let the overindulgence of Christmas last throughout your entire holiday period. And as tempting as it can be to have one of everything – choose to eat what you really want and take a slow and steady approach to the food and drink on offer.

3. Choose healthy alternatives

Healthy doesn’t have to mean boring. You can get into the festive spirit still enjoy great food by making some simple food swaps to healthier alternatives. Some ideas include swapping:

  • Crackers for veggie sticks
  • Heavy dressings for lighter options (make your own creamy dressing with Greek yoghurt, olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and some Dijon mustard).
  • Potato for its lower in GI alternative – sweet potato
  • Heavy desserts for fruity options or adding fruit on the side to other desserts
  • Alcohol for festive water – try adding a combination of strawberries, raspberries, mint or cucumber to some iced water and have a glass of this in between alcoholic beverages

Try to also fill half your plate with vegetables or add a side of salad to ensure a balanced Christmas dinner.

If you do over-indulge during the festive season, give yourself a break and make a plan to get back into a healthier routine the next day.

4. Get outdoors

Get the family or a group of friends together and take the opportunity to head outside to the beach, park, river or around your favourite walking track. The great outdoors isn’t just a great way to keep physically active – research has shown that getting out in nature also helps to reduce feelings of stress, anger or depression.

5. Try something new

Breaking out of your regular routine doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Whether it be a healthy recipe you’ve been meaning to create or a new outdoor activity, the holidays are a perfect time to try something different. You could even look at new ways to support your mental health – why not take the opportunity to slow down with some meditation or deep breathing exercises?

6. Keep up your sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is so important for your wellbeing. It will help you to stay energised and motivated, which is still just as important over the holiday season. Having a sleep routine can help give you the best chance maintaining good sleep during this period – so try to go to bed and wake up at around the same time each day, and get out of bed as soon as you do wake up.

7. Don’t forget sun protection

To protect yourself from the harsh summer rays, always remember these SunSmart guidelines:

  • Slip on clothing – clothing can be a great barrier between the sun’s UV and your skin.
  • Slop on sunscreen – sunscreen should be considered the last line of defence. No sunscreen blocks 100% of UV radiation.
  • Slap on a hat – look for a hat with a tight weave and broad brim that provides good shade to your face, head, neck and ears.
  • Seek shade – shade can be natural, built or portable.
  • Slide on sunglasses – choose a close-fitting, wrap-around style of sunglasses.

Remember that UV is at its highest during the middle of the day – between 10am and 2pm (or 11am and 3pm daylight saving time).

Make it a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy new year.