The holiday season can be a time of magical moments with family and lifelong memories in the making. They can also bring about hectic schedules, endless shopping lists, and unhealthy indulgences that can make it easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Here are a few simple ways to stay grounded, happy and healthy for the holidays.
Be Colorful With Your Holiday Menu
Festive feasting may be the cornerstone of a good holiday, but this year, make a resolution to get colorful with your cuisine. Arrange your kitchen to encourage family and visiting friends to “eat the rainbow”: keep a fresh fruit bowl on the counter; serve a crudité tray; offer spritzers with natural fruit juice. Then, when the holiday meal rolls around, swap out heavy dishes for nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich fare:
- Fresh berries and cranberry sauce
- Grilled sweet potatoes, carrots and squash
- Dark green veggies like spinach, kale and broccoli
- Whole grains, wild rice, and beans of all kinds (black, soy, lentils and more)
Tap Into the Therapeutic Potential of the Great Outdoors
Nature has been celebrated by philosophers, poets, and outdoor enthusiasts throughout the ages and across cultures, and today a growing body of scientific research shows numerous health benefits can be derived from enjoying of one of God’s greatest gifts: the great outdoors. Studies show immersing yourself in nature may reduce stress, anxiety, depression and chronic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, while improving your immune function and overall quality of life. Here are a few ideas to inject a healthy dose of Mother Earth into your holiday:
- Plan a nature walk or hike
- Conduct a neighborhood scavenger hunt
- Try a new outdoor winter sport
- Visit a national park (parks near you @ www.nps.gov)
- Bring nature inside and decorate with live plants
“Disconnect to Reconnect”
While the world we live in is inundated with digital technology year-round, your holidays don’t have to be. While mobile devices and screen time clearly distract from valuable time spent with each other, they also have a tendency to displace healthy physical activity, creative play, and quality sleep. In some studies, too much screen time on any digital device has been associated with depression, anxiety and lower psychological well-being in children and adolescents. So take up a countermovement this season with a device-free zone and real face-to-face time at your home for the holidays.
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American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use. AAP website.
Selhub, E. M., & Logan, A. C. (2012). Your brain on nature. Mississauga, ON: John Wiley and Sons Canada, Ltd.
Frumkin H, Bratman G, Breslow S, et al. Nature Contact and Human Health: A Research Agenda. Environmental Health Perspectives.