Welcome to the first edition of the 2017 Healthy Holidays email series! The holiday season can be a time of increased stressors, many tempting opportunities to overindulge, and an overall lapse in healthy habits. In an effort to help you avoid and/or manage these pitfalls, The Office of Human Resources in partnership with Anthony Dissen, Registered Dietician and Instructor of Health Science at Stockton have put together a six-week series focused on tips and resources on how to stay healthy during the upcoming holiday season. Enjoy the first edition!
Before life gets too hectic with shopping, parties, feast preparations, and other holiday commitments plan ahead for the busy times:
- Stock the freezer with healthy meals: double or triple recipes and freeze extras in individual or family-size containers so they are easy to grab during those hectic weeks.
- Crockpot meals: plan one to two crockpot meals each week – prep it in the morning (or night before) and come home to the amazing smells of dinner waiting for you.
- Batch Cooking: dice and cook up a pan or two of sweet potatoes or your favorite vegetables, or cook up a pot of beans, etc., which can store well and be used in many dishes throughout the week.
- Plan a budget for the holidays: sketch out a plan for how much you would to spend on gifts, holiday celebrations, and travel (if applicable to you).
- As you begin shopping for holiday feasts remember to shop local, shop produce markets, and shop bulk – all of these will help you to save money.
- Stick to your list. People who shop with a list tend to be less inclined to participate in "impulse purchases" which helps you to stick to your holiday food budget.
- Beware Brand Name. Often times the store brand or generic brand of a product is exactly the same as the name brand - except with brand name items, they will often increase the price!
It’s Thanksgiving week – a time to have fun celebrating family, food, thankfulness! It could also be a time to try out some new recipes or consider incorporating some “healthier” food options into your menu. Healthy eating does not need to be bland and boring. Based on your or your family’s dietary and health needs there are tons of websites to find delicious recipes geared toward particular dietary needs or restrictions. Below are a few resources to help you get started. Your friends and family may not even know they are eating something healthy.
- Herbs and Spices can add great variety to standard family recipes. Instead of buying many separate bottles, go for the pre-made blends! They have each ingredient balanced with all the measurements done for you. All you have to do is sprinkle!
- Looking for new inspiration? Check out foods and recipes from another cultural group or tradition. This can be an amazing way to bring something new to the dinner table and learn about how meals are made and shared around the world.
- Don't feel like you have to stick to a recipe 100% of the time. Feel free to use recipes as a source of inspiration that allow you to get started in the kitchen before improvising!
The holidays can be a hectic, busy time and regular exercise may get too easily bumped out of the schedule. Consider incorporating small periods of exercise and movement to your day. Here are some tips and resources for getting started:
- Make a date to walk! Taking periodic walks can relieve stress, improve mood and focus, and lead to improved fitness levels. We have a beautiful campus – consider carving out some of your lunch hour to go for a walk.
- Yoga & Stretching - Sometimes we don't think of stretching as a form of exercise, but it is! Simple stretches or desk yoga can help alleviate pain in the feet, shoulders, and back that can be especially bad during the holidays.
- Stand More - Stand at your desk when you can! Prolonged periods of sitting can be bad for the heart, and put pressure on the lower back. Standing for at least 1-2 minutes every hour can be a great help to take stress off the heart and back.
- Deliver it in Person - Those steps add up! Every opportunity to move, even if it’s only a few minutes at a time. At the end of the day that can add 20 minutes or more of activity!
Managing stress can be particularly challenging during the hectic holiday times. Below are some tips and resources for reducing and managing stress through the holidays:
- Meditation can be a great tool for reducing stress. Check out our on-campus resources to help you:
- Meditation Room located outside N-wing Cafeteria
- Meditation on-campus – Wednesdays at 12:45pm usually in CC, MR 2
- Avoid stressful activities or work at least 2 hours before bed
- Avoid screens at least 1 hour before bed to encourage better sleep
- Stay hydrated! Often tension headaches and body aches can be due to dehydration
- Keep moving your body – physical exercise can help manage, relieve, and reduce stress
Eating healthy and making smart eating choices can feel particularly challenging during the holidays when we are bombarded with tasty temptations, parties, and holiday celebrations. Below are some tips and resources for making smart food choices:
- Consider eating before going to a party
- Keep the focus on fun, not food
- Indulge in only the most special holiday treats
- Use a smaller plate when at parties or buffets
- Pour gravy and sauces slightly
- Seek out the protein and veggies first
- If drinking alcohol, alternate each glass with a glass of water
- Eat Mindful, Not Mindless – article from the American Heart Association
- 9 Healthy Holiday-Eating Strategies – Real Simple Magazine
- Healthy Out
- Simple Steps
The holidays can be an especially difficult time to find time to take of and focus on you. Use the resources below to help you carve out time to take care of you:
- It’s OK to say “no.” We tend to go overboard this time of year: shopping, cooking, sending cards and attending every event. Treat yourself this week by saying no to at least one thing.
- Nighttime Check-In: Before going to sleep, check in with yourself to think of a few good things that happened during the day.
- 1 Minute Rule: Every hour, find at least one minute to take a quick walk, breathe deeply, or do something good for yourself.
- Gratitude Diary
The start of a new year is the opportunity to change your habits and develop new habits focused on health and wellness. Below are some tips and resources for helping you get started:
- Plan Each Step: Don't be too focused on the end goal. Instead, think about each step along the way that is necessary to get to your goal, to stay more present minded.
- Do Your Plan, Not Somebody Else's: Resolutions need to be personal. Don't make a change to appease somebody else. Focus your energy and intention on the things that are truly important to you.
- New habits take at least 30 days to be established. Develop a detailed 30-day plan for whatever new habit you would like to establish. Include specifics on when and what you will do each day related to that new habit.
- Seven steps for making your New Year’s resolutions stick – Harvard Health
- Four ways to reach (and maintain) New Year’s resolutions – Mayo Clinic
Healthy Holidays is a seven-week email series focused on tips and resources on how to stay healthy during the holiday season. This series is brought to you by the Office of Human Resources, in partnership with Anthony Dissen, Registered Dietician and Instructor of Health Science at Stockton.