8 tips for staying healthy during the holidays

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Sick Family Lying In Bed

because-I-said-so-greenIt’s the most wonderful time of the year … until your kids catch the nasty virus that’s going around, you eat one too many figgy puddings and a schedule packed with holiday merriment makes your normal exercise routine impossible. Before you cancel Christmas, try these eight tips for staying sane and healthy until Santa Claus comes:

1. Stop germs at the door.

As soon as your offspring come through the door — from school, from the playground, from the neighbor’s house — insist that they wash their hands. Keep hand sanitizer near the door if that’s easier, and regularly wipe or spray doorknobs with a disinfectant. If your child does get sick, do everyone a favor and keep him or her home from school, church and play until all is well.

2. Get fresh air every day.

Shorter days mean longer nights, and the lack of sunlight can really make you feel down. Try to get outside for at least 10 to 15 minutes every day, even when it’s chilly outside. Bundle up and take the dog for a walk or step outside the office to breathe in fresh air while you talk on the phone.

3. Indulge mindfully.

It’s tempting to eat all the things at every holiday party you attend, but frequent overeating can leave you feeling sluggish. It’s OK to indulge on your favorite foods during the holidays — occasional overeating is a part of normal eating — but eating junk you don’t like just because it’s there is never a good idea. Melt-in-your-mouth awesome bread pudding? Yes. Leftover chocolate from an elementary school class party? No thank you.

4. Eat more fruits and veggies.

Piling fruits and vegetables on your plate will improve your health, and the more colorful the array, the better. Purple-, blue-, red-, orange- and yellow-hued fruits and veggies contain vitamins C and E and beta-carotene and pack a major nutritional punch. Try to up your intake to somewhat compensate for those extra Christmas carbs.

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5. Stay active.

With holiday parties, concerts and errands nearly every night of the week, you may not have time for your normal exercise routine. That’s OK. Don’t beat yourself up about it, but try to find a way to get at least some exercise every day. Hop on the treadmill for a few minutes while your kids watch a holiday movie, pull the little ones around the neighborhood on a sled or walk briskly around the mall as you shop if that’s the best you can do.

6. Guard your schedule.

Don’t let your schedule get so full that you don’t have time for the activities you truly want to do. A lazy night curled up with a blanket by a fire or an hour spent reading a book by the light of a Christmas tree won’t happen if there is no margin in your month. Take a few minutes now to review your December calendar and block off time for staying at home. You’ll feel refreshed and recharged and ready to face the awkward extended family gathering you’ve been dreading all year.

7. Don’t overspend.

Buying gifts for others can be fun, but if you blow the budget you may be too stressed to enjoy the joy of giving. Set a budget you can afford and stick with it. Then, come January, you can look at the holidays with fond memories instead of looking at your credit card statement with disgust.

8. Take a nap.

If you were up until midnight trying to finish your holiday shopping, try to grab a short nap the next day — even if it’s only for a few minutes in the carpool line. Unless you’re a superhero, consistently cutting corners on your evening shuteye will eventually make you feel like the Grinch. Make sleep a priority — especially if you feel an illness coming on. After all, staying healthy so you can truly enjoy the holidays is the best gift you can give yourself — and your family.

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Natalie Hollingshead is a former magazine editor turned freelance writer and editor. She writes regularly about home, family, food and travel for a handful of publications, and is co-author of the book "Happy Homemaking” (Cedar Fort, 2012) with Elyssa Andrus. A native of Alberta, Canada, Natalie lives in Orem with her husband and their three children.

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