Each year the holidays provide a diametrically-opposed period of some of the best of times, and some of the worst — for your overall health. The holidays are a time of friends, family and joy, as well unprecedented stress, irregular schedules and the temptation of unhealthy food and drink.
This year, LifeScape Premier concierge medical practice founder Dr. Susan Wilder offers some tips and suggestions for maintaining your good health and good cheer throughout the holiday season and getting off on the right foot for a healthy and happy new year.
“Even though the holidays are the time of year when we should be thinking about what we can do for others,” states Dr. Wilder, “It’s important to put our own health first, for without it, we can do no good for those around us.”
Santa makes a list and checks it twice, why shouldn’t you? In all seriousness, implementing good organizational practices, planning holiday shopping against a budget, making a list of holiday activities and dates and calendarizing milestones and deadlines such as greeting cards, shopping, wrapping and mailing of gifts can make the holidays go more smoothly. Being realistic about the number of parties you can attend and or what you’ll contribute to events is good practice as well. Don’t pressure yourself into baking goodies or being the star of the show with your grandma’s famous fruitcake. Sometimes bringing a package of disposable lock storage containers, a bag of ice or even paper towels and cups to a party can be the best gift to an overburdened host, and you’ll save yourself some time and stress to boot.
The more we learn about sleep the more we understand how essential a regular night’s sleep is for your body. A good night’s rest is imperative for your body’s reparative and regenerative processes. We encourage everyone to get a solid 8 hours of sleep per night on a regular schedule. This should help counter holiday stressors and keep your blood pressure and cortisol levels in check. If you or a loved one snores, a sleep study may be in order.
What we eat and drink during the holidays can have one of the biggest impacts on how we feel. Buffer your body with nutritious foods – green tea, fruits and veggies, and fish oil before indulging in holiday treats. Keep alcohol intake modest and never drink and drive. Heart attacks and strokes also escalate because of overeating, too much salt, and alcohol. We even have a term “holiday heart” for heart rhythm problems triggered by over-indulging.
Exercise is particularly important during the holidays and one of the first things often neglected when our schedules get full and we feel overwhelmed. Walking daily, after meals or at least a brisk jaunt of 20 minutes three times a week makes a world of difference. Simple tiny steps like breathing exercises while at work or getting up for regular stretches and oxygenating your muscles goes a long way as well.
Besides arming your body with good, healthy foods, consider bolstering your immune arsenal with nutritious multivitamins and supplements. Metagenics PhytoMulti is a superb multivitamin with an excellent antioxidant ORAC value. A good balance of quality nutrients helps us buffer the assaults of environmental toxicity, stress, and suboptimal diets.
For those with anxiety, irritability, or insomnia, Kavinace is my all-time favorite supplements for support of GABA, our brain’s “smooth jazz” neurochemical. Kavinace contains Phenibut, a building block for GABA allowing very gentle GABA support without the sedation, addiction and mortality risks of many of our far more potent anxiety and sleep medications. For your safety, any medicines of supplements for mood disorder should be used only under the guidance of a physician.
And of course, getting a flu shot is recommended for many. Nothing’s worse than being sick during the holidays.
Overall, try to avoid what I call, “The Three O’s” –- over-idealizing, over-scheduling, and over-indulging. Trying to keep up with the Joneses, neglecting sleep and chill time, and overdoing everything are a prescription for unhealthy holidays. Make and take time for yourself to chill, do right by your body and engage in active experiences with people you care about.
Dr. Susan Wilder
Founder, LifeScape Premier
About the author: Dr. Susan Wilder is a renowned concierge medical doctor, founder of two family medical practices in Scottsdale, Arizona and is a national public speaker and frequent media guest. A published author, she has consulted with DreamWorks Television, provides parenting advice on BabyFirstTV, and is a member of Phoenix’s KPNX-TV Channel 12 “Health Team.” Dr. Wilder is listed as one of the nation’s top Family Physicians by the Consumers Research Council and The Center for the Study of Services and Best Doctors ranks Dr. Wilder among the top 4% of Family Physicians nationally. Learn more at: http://lifescapepremier.com/our-staff/dr-susan-wilder