Okay. We're just going to come right out and say it—2020 sucked.
This year has officially lasted approximately 3,237 years, and we're all ready to take a break and unwind for the holidays. But that doesn't mean we should take a break from our health routines. After all, this year has done a great job of teaching us how important health and hygiene really are (insert eye roll).
For a lot of us, the holidays mean overindulging in food, drink, and merriment. We all know about the extra weight we tend to pick up at this time of year, and no doubt we know where it's coming from. Although this holiday season's already very different from previous years—we've never received so few party invitations!—many familiar pitfalls are likely to come up.
So let's be proactive!
In this guide, we've put together six easy and practical steps you can take this year. From practicing just a bit more mindfulness to embracing a philosophy of "harm reduction" over abstinence, we've got you covered. These actionable steps will help you get through to the New Year without sabotaging your health and wellness along the way.
But the BEST part is that they won't ruin your holidays, either.
After all, we need some holiday cheer more than ever this year.
Heads up: There are no quick fixes here.
Before we get started, we need to make something clear. These aren't "life hacks." There are no quick fixes here. We're not offering you a magical solution that's going to let you eat every one of those cookies or to have several bottles of wine to yourself with dinner. There's no silver bullet out there that will help you reach your health and wellness goals, so we don't want to try to sell you on one.
Instead, we're focusing on practical habits and rituals that you can easily stick to. These will help you maintain a) more mindfulness and b) simple, healthy routines that help make up for any blind spots you might have in your lifestyle.
Follow these steps to have a healthy holiday season!
1) Wash your hands. We know. You've heard this over and over again. But especially if you're able to partake in a holiday party, make sure to wash your hands frequently. We know that you want to relax and forget about the pandemic for just. One. Minute. But we really need to stay diligent and keep our hygiene top of mind!
2) Stay active (any way you can). For a lot of us, the temperatures have already dropped, making outdoor activities unforgiving. And that means we're getting back into WFH (working out from home) gym season. But don't overburden yourself trying to get a head start on 2021, and allow yourself to enjoy the holiday season. A quick HIIT session, some low-intensity cardio, or even a yoga session, will work great. Just make sure that you're regularly getting up, moving, and enjoying at least one session of physical activity a day.
3) Eat mindfully. 'Tis the season of the turkey coma. We have a tendency to distract ourselves while we eat, especially when the family gets together to share a festive feast. Even if this year's dinner parties are happening online, we can still get caught up in the revelry. When we do, we overeat beyond when our body has stopped sending us its hunger signals. Instead, try to pause after every time you swallow your food and tune into your belly. What's it telling you? Do you need to continue eating, or is it time to start stocking leftovers in the fridge?
4) Drink mindfully, too. 'Tis also the season for festive cocktails and, let's admit it, too much wine. We used to believe that a glass of wine with dinner was good for us. Then we learned that the actual optimal amount of alcohol intake is actually... zero. However, abstinence isn't always an option for everyone. Instead, we want to encourage you to practice the same mindfulness we just described. Pay attention to your body (and your mind) and do your best to honestly read your signals; you know when you've had enough.
TIP: Drink at least one eight-ounce glass of water between every alcoholic beverage you consume.
Steps 5 & 6: Protect your mental health.
We know now that the mind and the body are more connected than we ever thought. Mental health, in particular, is far more dependent on physical wellbeing than scientists used to believe. But we aren't talking about fitness, necessarily. Taking care of your body (beyond what you feed it) is fundamental to living a happy, fulfilled life. That's why we designed the new Atria 2.0 to help you further safeguard your health in two ways.
Here are the two final steps to get through the holidays healthier and happier than ever.
5) Manage stress. This can be hard for many, but managing your stress levels is vital to your physical and mental health. Unhealthy levels of stress, or chronic exposure to it, lead to high cortisol levels in your body. Stress can also lead to anxiety, depression, and unhealthy weight gain or loss. Atria 2.0 features easy to use breathing exercises that you can access when you need to immediately de-stress. You can also take steps to reduce your stress levels by meditating, listening to your favorite music, or reducing your caffeine intake. Ditch that afternoon coffee and go for a calming herbal tea.
6) Don't rack up a sleep debt. Speaking of caffeine, many of us tend to have a hard time sleeping at this time of the year. It could be changing the season, work pressure, or an ingrained habit we kept from staying up all night waiting for Santa to show up. Whichever the case, you should be careful not to build up a sleep debt.
What is sleep debt?
Feeling tired in the morning isn't the only downside to a late night. After too many in a row, your body begins to carry over those missed hours, like racking up late charges on an overdue bill. When this happens, you can eventually crash and experience severe physical or mental fatigue. This, of course, can impact other areas of your life, from your relationships to your performance at work. Sleep debt has also been associated with obesity, hormonal irregularity, and emotional dysregulation.
That's why the most useful thing you can probably do this holiday season is rejuvenating your bedtime routine in some way to make it fresh. This will make it easier to stick to, which should help you maintain a healthy amount of sleep each night! Ensure your routine includes a cutoff time for digital screens because the blue light they emit can disrupt sleep patterns.
We hope this guide was helpful!
Want to know more about managing your health from a holistic, 360° perspective? Learn more about the FitTrack Starter Pack 2.0, featuring the all-new Atria 2.0 and the bestselling Dara smart scale.