How to stay mentally and physically healthy this holiday season

How to stay mentally and physically healthy this holiday season

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Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — With the holiday season approaching, anxiety around "staying fit" may be on the rise for some people.

The holidays are meant to be a time for joy and gratitude, not a time to shame ourselves for not having a perfect diet or exercise routine. This season, instead of focusing on everything you can't eat — and all the exercise routines you might have missed — focus on the things you can eat and the exercises you can do.

Here are some tips on how you can stay mentally and physically healthy this holiday season.

Eating healthy

The holidays always seem to come with a variety of foods we often label as "bad." This year, try to stay clear of labeling foods as "bad" or "good" and remember that all foods can fit into a healthy diet. The important concept to keep in mind this holiday season is to eat more intuitively.

Intuitive eating is a whole body-and-mind approach to being healthy. People often think this means they have free rein to eat whatever they want but that's not always the case. Although following principles of intuitive eating does allow you permission to eat foods which sound appetizing (yes, that means you can eat the chocolate cake), it also means listening to what your body is telling you after you eat. If after eating certain foods your body feels sluggish or you experience gastrointestinal discomfort, then maybe avoid those foods in the future or eat less of them.

Eating intuitively also means you don't have to eat the carrots if you don't like carrots. The process of becoming a proficient intuitive eater takes time but you can try and begin the process this holiday season by giving yourself permission to eat the foods you enjoy and avoid the foods you don't like.

Staying active

As the weather gets colder, it's important to stay active. Being active this season doesn't mean you have to hit the gym every morning or run outside in the snow. There are many different ways to move your body.

Some outdoor options include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, downhill skiing and ice hockey. Also, think about fun family activities which you can do to stay active as a whole family, like taking a hike up the mountains to see the fall leaves change colors. Go snowshoeing or sledding with the family, or enjoy a snowball fight or building an igloo in the backyard.

Exercise doesn't have to be painful or miserable. There are many fun and simple ways to move your body and be active this holiday season.

Setting boundaries

Holidays aren't always the joyful occasions they should be, and setting healthy boundaries can be a great way to help bring some of the joy back into the season this year. If you need help recognizing when healthy boundaries are needed, check out this podcast from Thoughts on Thoughts.

Healthy boundaries are important for maintaining your mental health. Also remember: If someone you love is setting boundaries, it doesn't mean they don't enjoy your company. It could simply mean that they are taking steps to improve their own health. If both parties respect the boundaries that are set, then the relationship you have can grow stronger over time.

Practicing self-care

Self-care this time of year is very important. The holidays, although often a time for rejoicing, can bring pain and sorrow for some. Remember to do things that help maintain your own mental health.

Jessica Miller, a licensed social worker, talks about what true self-care looks like in this article.

"True self-care isn't about short-term feeling good. It isn't a superficial fix. True self-care is cultivating a life you want to be living ... True self-care is about intention. It is living an intentionally healthier life," Miller writes.

Take time before the holiday season starts, dig deep and see what things you need to be doing to have a more intentional self-care routine.

The holiday seasons can be full of ups and downs. Taking a proactive approach to your mental and physical health can help relieve some of the unnecessary stress this time of year can bring.

Danielle Billat

About the Author: Danielle Billat

Danielle Billat is a local registered dietitian, nutritionist and mother. Contact her at

Editor's Note: Anything in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended, nor should it be interpreted, to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition; Any opinions, statements, services, offers, or other information or content expressed or made available are those of the respective author(s) or distributor(s) and not of KSL. KSL does not endorse nor is it responsible for the accuracy or reliability of any opinion, information, or statement made in this article. KSL expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on the content of this article.

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