Keeping a healthy balance over the holidays

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind that is the holiday period. Quite often we will find ourselves out of routine, with extra demands placed on our time as well as our bodies and minds. There is also the reality of the COVID-19 landscape which means some may still be experiencing ongoing disruption to their lives and their holiday plans.

Below are some tips to address three key areas many of us struggle with over this time!

Forget the calorie counting

Unless you have a specific health need, give yourself permission to enjoy some additional food and drinks over the holiday period. Food, particularly in a social setting, gives us a great deal of pleasure. Enjoying it without guilt is important. Even if you are on a current weight loss journey, recent science shows that your weight loss can be maintained with minimal disruption even if calories are increased for a period.

Essentially, you can easily enjoy a couple of days of additional food if you focus on eating more nutritionally dense foods such as lean proteins, veggies, and yes…even potatoes! Don’t worry however should you get stuck into the dessert! If you are not overdoing the fatty processed foods or the booze, you should be ok. Moderation is key!

Get off the couch

It’s easy to laze about on a hot day, particularly when you have had a big day with family and friends, or perhaps after a late night submitting an assignment due in the last week of December. Aaahhh!  However, we now know that inactivity (apart from sleeping) is bad for our health and there is a wealth of research that supports this.

Unfortunately, our levels of inactivity have skyrocketed during lockdowns and while studying from home. Therefore, it is important to get moving! Making sure you get up off the couch regularly (every 30 minutes) and get active for 2-3 minutes will help counteract the negative physical and mental effects that sedentary behaviour has.

If you normally would get to the gym or with a trainer but are unable to, consider taking a 30-minute walk each day. If you can’t live without exercise, then you could also do a workout at home through Charles Sturt’s UniMoves app – it’s free!

Keep calm and be festive

There is often a lot of pressure to be in many places and meet with many people during the holidays. Shopping centres and roads become very busy, as do our calendars. The expectations we have of ourselves, and others may lead us to become stressed.

Remember that you can only do so much yourself and that certain things will be out of your control. Taking time to pause will help to reduce the stress and anxiety you may experience. In a perfect world, we would all have time to sit in silence for 10 minutes per day and meditate. However, if you find that isn’t for you, a strategy of mine is to take 2-5 deep breaths as I move from one task to another. Inserting mini breaks like this throughout the day helps to reset the parasympathetic nervous system which is how to help promote calm in the body and mind.

Finally…

Be kind and patient with each other as you never know what someone else is experiencing. Importantly, in the instance that you have been forced to cancel plans and remain by yourself, please be sure to keep contact with your support network.

Additional resources may be found at the Charles Sturt Student Resources page.

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season!

Written by Stephen Hale-Worrall

Want to hear more of this student’s voice?