12 Days of Healthy Living

Deck the holidays with good-for-you habits.


Good health is at the top of most everyone’s wish list at the holidays — whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or other special days. The tricky thing is, it can’t be wrapped, bought online or redeemed with a gift card — and that’s exactly what makes it so special. It’s a gift to yourself from yourself. So in the flurry of the holiday season, we invite you to indulge in some self-care and celebrate the 12 Days of Healthy Living.

  1. Wash your hands. This is an all-around gift because hand washing is essential to help prevent the spread of germs, especially now at the height of flu season. The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds.1 When that’s not possible, use a germ-killing hand sanitizer gel instead. Stash a travel-size bottle in your car or purse for on-the-go hand hygiene. Hey, there’s a stocking stuffer idea, too.
  2. Keep stress in check. The holidays and stress go hand in hand. Nearly a quarter of Americans reported feeling “extreme stress” during the holidays, according to a poll by the American Psychological Association. Holiday stress statistics show that up to 69 percent of people are stressed by the feeling of having a “lack of time, 69 percent are stressed by perceiving a lack of money, and 51 percent are stressed out about the pressure to give or get gifts.2 If you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, or out of control, slow down and take time to reconnect with yourself, family and friends — gift-free. Also, try looking outward. Helping others through volunteering can help you feel good by giving back. And it puts the holiday rush into perspective.
  3. Get plenty of sleep. Speaking of keeping up a demanding pace, getting enough rest is especially important during the busy holiday season. Try to follow the same sleep pattern if you can, turning in and waking at about the same time every day.3 This will keep your body’s internal clock ticking with precision so you can function at your peak. If you can’t indulge in a full 8 hours a night, schedule some downtime during the day to help reset your body and mind. 
  4. Eat well-ish. It’s not realistic to think you’re going to avoid every holiday cookie and decadent appetizer. But it’s important to balance rich foods with good-for-you choices. If you’ve lost sight of what makes a reasonable helping, try using a digital food scale behind the scenes for the perfect controlled portion. Eating well during the holidays — and still enjoying yourself — is all about moderation.
  5. Keep up on your meds. When you’re out of your routine during the holiday party/travel/shopping circuit, it’s easy to forget which medications to take when. Set reminders for yourself to check your blood sugar and monitor your blood pressure when you need to. Remember to take your pillbox with you when you travel, and keep it in plain sight.
  6. Stay active. It can be hard to keep moving after the tryptophan from the turkey kicks in, but regular activity can do a world of good. Aim to raise your heart rate and break a sweat for 30 minutes daily to help lower your stress level and blood pressure, and boost your energy.4 If mobility is a challenge, you can still get on your feet, and set your wheels in motion with a rollator or other mobility support device.
  7. Practice self-care. It’s easy to overlook your own needs during the holiday blitz of shopping and entertaining, but it’s a must. Grab a coffee at your favorite cafe, read a book, or just take an extra-long shower. Have a seat and use shower time as a quiet moment to relax. Self-care is different for everyone, so find what makes you feel recharged and revitalized.
  8. Be careful on icy walks. Even just a short walk from your car to the front door of a holiday party can be treacherous in icy weather. Try to walk with a companion, or if you need more support, steady yourself with a cane that has a rubber tip at the end for a better grip. For extra precaution, slip traction covers over your shoes or snow boots.
  9. Know your limits. There’s overindulging, and then, there’s overexertion. Both are taxing on your body in opposite ways. From running a holiday 5K to pounding the pavement for the perfect gift, be careful not to overdo it at a physical level that’s beyond the norm for you. It’ll leave you more prone to injuries. Listen to your body and give extra support to areas that cause you trouble. Be sure to tape up before you lace up your sneaks.
  10. Give your skin extra TLC. Cold weather can leave your skin dry and uncomfortable. For some people, the problem goes beyond discomfort to flaking, cracking, and even eczema (when your skin becomes inflamed).5 Brisk outdoor air isn’t the only culprit. Inside, artificial heat zaps skin of its natural moisture, too. But you can replenish all that skin-softening hydration with a nourishing cream.
  11. Be ready for anything. When you’re hosting extended family (especially those with young kids), or if you live alone, it’s important to have helpful tools and essential care items on hand, just in case. Especially on holidays when stores may be closed, if you need something immediately, expedited shipping won’t help. Have a first aid kit ready for minor accidents, and a handy reacher to grab that gift wrap way on the top shelf in the basement, instead of teetering on a step stool.
  12. Make it meaningful to you You don’t need to say yes to every event, so only attend what you want — not what you feel obligated to. Try to be realistic about what you can do without adding to your stress, or taking away from your joy of the holidays. Reflect on what and who makes you happiest during the holiday season. That’s where you should focus your energy.


Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season.

REFERENCES. 1. Holiday Health and Safety Tips, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/family/holiday/index.htm. 2. Holiday Stress Guide, All One Health: https://allonehealth.com/holiday-stress-guide/ 3. 17 Proven Tips To Sleep Better at Night Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-tips-to-sleep-better#section5. 4. 7 Benefits of Regular Activity, Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389. 5. 10 Winter Care Skin Tips, WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/ten-winter-skin-care-tips#1. All accessed October 29, 2019.