If you haven’t already been graced with a blanket of snow, let us be the first to tell you: Holiday season is officially here.
And with it, the myriad of unique stressors that family time, feasts, and unfettered socialization have to offer! Which means — if we’re hoping to survive this year’s inundation of Christmas music and Hallmark movies — now is the time to work on boosting three key areas of health.
Mental well-being, digestion, and immune system functioning.
Because nothing can squelch your appetite for holiday fun like a bout of anxiety or anxiety-producing bathroom breaks. (Besides COVID, that is.)
Stay healthy during this holiday season with the wellness strategies from our favorite holistic health advocate, Dr. Neal, that are waiting for you below like an early present under the tree. From immune-strengthening lifestyle tips and mindfulness practices to supplements for digestion, there’s a little something for everyone — even the grinches.
In This Article:
- Foundational health via the Wellness Pyramid
- Mindfulness for the holiday season
- Supplement tips for ultimate winter wellness
The Wellness Pyramid for Holiday Health and Well-Being
There’s a lot up in the air during the holidays, and not just the snow or your travel plans. Often, when the department stores start playing Mariah Carey, our commitments to healthy eating, regular exercise, and decent sleep schedules go right out the window.
But don’t blame yourself!
Being removed from our daily routines can be majorly disruptive to health habits and wellness practices. Who wants to do their fascial maneuvers at the airport or take their fish oil with Thanksgiving dinner? Not us.
And, by the same token, overcommitting to unsustainable routines during the holiday season is exhausting at best. Is there a way, then, to enjoy the holidays with a modified approach to health that allows room for fun and celebration without throwing the baby out with the eggnog?
Yes, yes there is.
Dr. Neal formulated the Wellness Pyramid after 20+ years of guiding folks from every walk of life to their own, unique states of holistic, or whole-body, health. It’s a structure or framework for optimal wellness that, by design, can be adapted to fit the needs of each individual.
So we can take this handy blueprint for whole-person health and use it to inform our decisions during the holidays in order to enjoy our celebrations without sacrificing long-term wellness.
The Foundational Tier | Lifestyle Domain Tips for Holiday Health
If you missed our recent deep dive into holistic nutrition, then you might be worried we’re going to tell you to cut out soy or go full paleo before Thanksgiving. While you might find black-and-white answers lacking all possible nuance on other so-called health channels, that is definitely not going to be the case here.
We’re humans, and we need human solutions to our human problems.
So when it comes to changing your diet this holiday season, just simply don’t! Instead of restricting your eating or counting calories, concentrate on diversifying your eating so you can improve your nutrient intake during this food-oriented time of year.
Translation? Eat as much pie as you want, but eat all your mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and Brussels sprouts, too.
Don’t get us wrong — we love late-night board games and early-morning walks just as much as the next person who’s at their parents’ house for the holidays. But should you sacrifice your much-needed slumber in order to enjoy these things?
No, probably not.
Sleep is important for emotional health and mental well-being, as well as about a bazillion other processes related to your physical health. From digesting food to repairing muscles, sleep is crucial for whole-picture wellness year-round.
Try: Scheduling activities for after dawn and before dusk. Bonus points if you skip that last glass of wine before bed and avoid circadian rhythm disruptors like blue lights from screens.
It might not be possible for you to maintain your 2-hour, high-intensity workout schedule while you’re traveling or celebrating the holidays at home.
And you know what? That is totally okay!
Not only has modern research shown that the optimal amount of exercise is somewhere closer to 30 minutes a day, but your gym will still be there waiting for you when Christmas is over. For the next few weeks, just focus on getting half an hour of movement per day to support your immune system, digestion, and mental health.
That could look like doing some gentle stretching in the morning, taking a walk with your family (or away from them!), or having a 30-minute dance party with your favorite siblings.
Learn More: The Truth About Exercise: Ditch the Myths
4. Stress Management
(Don’t believe us? Try skipping a meal or staying up late and see how calm you feel during one of your uncle’s political diatribes.)
But for many people, just hitting these basics isn’t enough to alleviate the stress of the holiday season. If that’s the case, we recommend making an active effort towards some kind of mindfulness practice. Before you cringe and close this tab, though, remember that scientific research has linked mindfulness practices to better stress management, reduced anxiety, and improved depression in clinical settings!
Plus, if sitting on a mat for 5 minutes of silent meditation isn’t your jam, there are other ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life. Do what works for you, whether that’s walking meditation, moment-to-moment mindfulness, or focused breathing.
5. Lifestyle Changes
When we refer to lifestyle changes in this Wellness Pyramid context, we’re talking about the changes we make to things outside of ourselves — environmental adaptations, if you will.
During the rest of the year, those changes typically look like going alcohol-free or taking the TV out of your bedroom. During the holidays, however, our options for boosting immunity via lifestyle changes are pretty limited, especially if we’re visiting other people’s homes.
So, for the 2023 holiday season, the top lifestyle change we recommend to protect your health and the health of your family members is: Wear. A. Mask.
You hate to hear it, we hate to say it, but there is still a pandemic happening, folks. At the very least, if you find yourself in trains, planes, or automobiles this holiday season, don your mask while in transit.
The Middle Tier | Strategic Supplementation for Holiday Health
Keeping the 5 lifestyle domains at the center of your awareness will help protect your sleep and digestion, and in turn, support your mental health and immunity as well.
Supplements, on the other hand, can bridge the inevitable gaps in our wellness practices during the holiday season. And the rest of the year, too, if they’re done right!
Doing supplements right usually means conducting our own research and buying from quality sources but there are a few tips we have from Dr. Neal for successful supplementation during the holiday season specifically:
1. Don’t Skip Your Daily Supplements
While you might make compromises on your diet or date-night schedule this season, don’t be wishy-washy with your wellness products. Instead, avoid getting lost in the shuffle of gift-buying and ice-skating by using your daily supplement regimen to anchor your sense of self.
Don’t have a day-to-day supplement strategy for preventing nutritional deficiencies and maintaining optimal health? We recommend starting with the Vital5. AKA, the 5 nutrients almost all of us need, but aren’t getting.
2. Add Digestion Support Supplements to Your Regimen
Tummy troubles can keep us up at night and stuck to the porcelain throne when we’d rather be out enjoying the season. If you have a sensitive stomach — and some adventurous eats on the horizon — incorporate digestion support supplements into your routine.
Our number go-to supplement for gut health and digestive wellness is, of course, probiotics. But there are a few very close runner-ups that can aid in breaking down food and assimilating nutrients, too! Like Betaine HCL, digestive enzymes, and collagen peptides.
3. Support Sleep and Stress Management with Herbs and Minerals
If it’s not your stomach keeping you awake, it could be the stress of making small talk with distant relatives or going back to your home town. This time of year, it’s critical to bolster your sleep hygiene and mindfulness practices with supportive herbs and supplements.
Our favorite herbs for relaxing the muscles, promoting deep sleep, and restoring balance to the nervous system are valerian and CBD. But don’t forget essential minerals that build the foundation for healthy stress management and restorative sleep, like magnesium!
Learn More: 3 Great Sleep Supplements — And 2 to Avoid
The Top Tier | Professional Medical Care for Holiday Health
Our most sincere holiday wish for you is that you don’t need to seek professional medical attention to cope with your annoying family members or recover from the cold they passed onto you.
But if you do need direct support for holiday health — from managing stress with supplements to maintaining immunity through wellness practices — give us a call. Our holistic health experts are ready and standing by with personalized guidance every day but Christmas.