How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays—Both Physically *and* Mentally—in 5 Easy Steps

Photo: Getty Images/Annie Engel
The holiday season has a reputation for shaking up our regular routines. We're attending (socially-distanced) outdoor soirées, enjoying sweets dropped off by kind neighbors, and enjoying all the joy the season has to offer while still staying safe in COVID-19 times. It's not just our everyday schedules that change; spiritual expert Todd Savvas says this time of year can also be mentally disrupting. "Winter months can be especially challenging to stay centered and present," he says. Why? "The presence of family often adds pressure and complication. Family is primarily where a soul designs most of its trigger points and lessons." Even if you're planning to play it safe and spend time with your fam via Zoom, you'll still need to pocket a few tips for how to stay healthy during the holidays—both mentally and physically.

Experts In This Article
  • Dawn Russell, Dawn Russell is the founder of 8Greens, a company dedicated to helping people add greens to their diet in an easy, quick, tasty way.
  • Kelly LeVeque, CN, celebrity nutritionist and founder of Be Well by Kelly
  • Lauren Roxburgh, Lauren Roxburgh is an international best-selling author, speaker, and wellness educator.
  • Todd Savvas, Todd Savvas is a spiritual teacher and contemporary mystic.

We’re stocking our arsenal with ways to elegantly sidestep the stress and lean into the joy, courtesy of some of the most in-demand wellness pros. Ahead, Savvas and a coterie of experts—including celebrity nutritionist Kelly LeVeque (whose clients include Jessica Alba, Chelsea Handler, and Emmy Rossum) and Lauren Roxburgh, a bodyworker, trainer, and fascia and alignment expert who works with some of the world’s top athletes and stars—help us slide into 2021 already balanced, healthy, and ready to rock.

How to stay healthy during the holidays—mentally and physically in 5 easy steps

1. Double fist it at parties

Really! LeVeque suggests grabbing that glass of bubbly...and sipping it alongside a glass of water. The strategy helps slow down alcohol consumption and keep the body more hydrated. Or, do one better and make your first party drink an alcohol-free one. “Grab a soda water with lemon or a flat water,” LeVeque says. That way, she says, you can "work through the first few party jitters without sucking down a cocktail too quickly." This is a good policy whether you're meeting up with your quarantine pod or staying at home with your partner or roommates.

2. Hit snooze on nightly binge-watching

Real talk: Few of us are immune to the charms of The Queen's Gambit, and it’s all too easy to hit “next episode” several times in a single sitting, particularly when short days make 5 p.m. and 12 a.m. feel the same. But LeVeque notes there are major consequences to instant gratification, Netflix-style. Shorter nightly sleep has been connected to a slew of problems including lack of energy, moodiness, aching muscles, and headaches. The takeaway? Dim your screens and get more shut-eye. You can check back with Instagram or whatever’s streaming at a more mind- and body-friendly time.

3. Embrace your inner wallflower

Gearing up for sparkling conversation during Zoom party season can be an energy zapper unto itself. If the thought of butterflying around a virtual soiree makes you want to hide under your covers, take a note from 8Greens founder Dawn Russell, author of The 8Greens Cookbook: Party like a wallflower instead. “There are a lot of parties and people out during the holiday season, which can be a bit overwhelming. No matter what, make sure you have a good time yourself," she says. And that might mean just listening as your pals tell on-screen tales of 2020.

4. Go long

Let’s face it, for those who aren’t early risers, squeezing a workout in when it gets dark at 4:30 p.m. can feel next to impossible. But Roxburgh has a simple save on days like this: No matter what you do or where you go, pick the long way. In COVID-19 times, that might mean walking to the grocery store or finding a socially-distanced walking path to cover during your work break. "Walk as much as possible. Take the stairs or park your car a bit further to get a few extra steps in," she says.

This not only helps make up for the movement deficit that befalls sedentary office workers, but can do wonders to help you feel more present, aware, and centered, too. "Try not to be not stiff and tight. Instead, walk with ease, relax your shoulders, and feel and allow your body to move," Roxburgh advises. "This allows your energy to move more freely through you and helps bring you into the present moment."

5. Reset for positive thinking

This year’s political climate and health disasters are enough to make even the most effervescent of souls feel bogged down. Tack on blustery winter days and one's outlook can begin to feel as dim as the sky. Thankfully, Savvas has your back. He offers a simple, three-step practice you can use to reconnect, getting your head back in the game and in the holiday spirit.

1. Accept your moment. “Do this by saying something like, ‘I accept I am sitting here and it’s perfect. I accept that I am breathing and it’s perfect. I accept that everything changes eventually, and it’s perfect,’” Savvas suggests. “Feel free to adapt this to your exact moment and accept the moment you’re in.” Once finished, take a deep, calming breath in and out.

2. Find a positive focal point. Start by picking a baby animal that gets your heart with every GIF. “It can be puppies, kittens, horses, pigs, whatever,” Savvas says. “Close your eyes and imagine your baby animal of choice crawling around you, falling over, playing, being adorable. Continue this until you notice yourself smile or not feel so serious.” (Not an animal person? Imagine hanging out with your BFF or taking a walk through the woods—whatever simple thing makes you happy.) When finished, take a moment to deeply breathe in and out.

3. Accept there’s no end. By this, Savvas means, “Remember the truth that nothing is finished, everything is unfolding, nothing stays the same. Think about the possibility that within the next five minutes something positive can happen for you. Or, in the next 30 minutes, or, in the next hour, or day, etc.”

The takeaway? By setting yourself up to think that something great can happen instead of preparing for the worst, you become more positive and open to opportunities that might come your way.

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This post was originally published on December 17, 2020; updated on November 20, 2020 with additional reporting by Kells McPhillips.

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