3 Tips for a Healthier Holiday season

The holidays are around the corner, and although it is a time of merriment, family gatherings, and traditions, it is also the most stressful time of year, full of tempting, delicious baked goods, and a higher incidence of injuries. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help make your holiday season healthier!


  1. Deep breathing – no matter how happy the holidays make us, they also stress us out. In between all the shopping, cooking, visiting family and friends, late nights, holiday parties and traffic, it’s no wonder we get run down. But some simple deep breathing can work wonders to calm us down mentally and physically. Contrary to popular belief, most of us actually do not breath properly. In order to breath properly your stomach should expand when you inhale (take in a breath) NOT your chest. When you exhale your stomach deflates. Try it! If it helps, place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Inhale through your nose to a slow count of 3 while pushing the hand on your stomach out. The hand on your chest shouldn’t move. Then exhale to a slow count of 3, deflating your stomach. Relax your shoulders. The best part about deep breathing, is that you can do it anywhere! When you start getting stressed or anxious waiting in line, or sitting in traffic or when your Ma Tante Linda knocks over her glass of red wine on your couch – Inhale 1-2-3, Exhale 1-2-3.


  1. Stretching – I can tell you to go to the gym, and give you some great exercises, but chances are, if you aren’t already exercising regularly, you won’t start during the most stressful time of the year. But I will definitely encourage you to at least stretch. Not only does it promote relaxation (another great time to practice the above deep breathing), but the more limber your muscles, the less likely you are to hurt yourself by throwing out your back while lifting the turkey or running to get the last gift on Christmas Eve before the stores close! Try these two great stretches
    • Cat/Cow Stretch- On your hands and knees place your hands directly under your shoulders, you knees in line under your hips, curl your toes under. Inhale and arch your back and gently looking up. Keep your shoulders relaxed here. Then relax the tops of your feet to the floor, and exhale while rounding out your back as far as you can, pulling your belly button into you spine. This will feel absolutely wonderful for you and your back. Repeat this a minimum of 5 times.

Cow Pose

Cat posePhoto: Very Well

  • Standing stretch – Standing upright, inhale and bring your arms over your head and reach up as far as you can, your back can arch a little. Then exhale while folding forward, slightly bending your knees and letting yourself hang there completely relaxed, swing your arms a little if you like! Then very slowly roll yourself back up one vertebrae at a time, when you get back to standing, roll your shoulders back several times. Repeat this 3-5 times.

Photo: Sha Wellness Clinic


  1. Smarter Eating – Ginger bread and short bread cookies, the ‘Buche de Noel’, the egg nog!. We only eat and drink these amazing things once a year, so eat  it all, but eat smart! The holidays do not need to be the time of year when you gain 10 pounds, and it also doesn’t need to be the time of year when you get so scared about gaining weight that you forgo all your favourite once a year treats. It’s about balance! If you know that you have a big holiday party on Friday evening, plan to eat well the rest of the week. If Shirley from HR brings in a huge plate of delicious, home baked goodies, indulge in a few but don’t over do it. Stay out of the lunch room if you have to, or take the stairs to go get them. Drink lots of water, plan for healthy meals around holiday treats, and if you over do it because the snickerdoodle was stronger than you – do 3 rounds of 1 minute jumping jacks, 15 squats and as many pushups as you can do and leave the guilt behind!


No matter what we celebrate, the holidays are about spending time with the ones we love, sharing traditions and starting new ones. Wishing you a healthy, stress-free, limber and sweet holiday season.


Natalia Bessette
Kinésiologue M.H.K, B.Ed

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