The festive season is a time we usually associate with indulgence and relaxation.
It’s when we’ll spend time with family and friends, usually drinking and eating more decadent food than normal.
While this is one of the great things about the festive period, it can also be a hindrance if you are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Keep your fitness levels up and your calorie intake in check with our top tips for staying healthy during the holidays.
Start the day with a healthy breakfast
During the festive period, it’s essential that you start the day with a healthy breakfast so you’re ready for whatever the day (and night!) throws at you.
Choosing a nutritious and filling protein-rich breakfast like porridge, eggs, Greek yoghurt, protein pancakes, or simply nut butter on toast can set you up for a great day.
Here are 5 vegan breakfast ideas to support your energy levels and some almond butter breakfast ideas for inspo.
Walk as much as possible
It may be cold and you may have a hundred and one things to do.
Nevertheless, deciding to go to the shop or to pick up the kids by foot instead of driving is a great way to get your blood pumping and take in some fresh winter air.
Why not set yourself a walking target every week and measure it using a pedometer app?
From walking your dog through to taking a brisk lunch time stroll, getting outside in the open air will clear your head and help maintain your exercise levels.
Handpicked article: How to make your walk work harder
Get outside and play!
Most of us might not be lucky enough to get snow this winter, but there are plenty of other fun outdoor winter activities to enjoy besides snowball fights and sledding.
Why not try going for a bike ride with a friend or your partner, getting your mates together for a friendly game of football or improving your skating skills at your local ice rink?
You’ll feel slightly less guilty afterwards when you head to the pub for a drink.
Take up a class
If you’re not the outdoor type, why not take up a class at your local gym or sports centre?
Yoga or pilates can help keep you active, or if you want to do something more energetic, have a go at spinning or circuit training.
Exercise classes are a good way to unwind after a day of festive preparations and will also improve your muscle strength and overall fitness.
Lower your alcohol intake
It may be party season and the time for drinking plenty of mulled wine, boozy hot drinks and fizz but the calories in alcohol can quickly begin to take their toll.
You can still have your fun with a few drinks every now and then, but why not consider non-alcoholic alternatives, or drinks with less calories like gin and tonic?
Avoid the dreaded hangover
We all hate waking up with a hangover that threatens to wipe out your entire day, but fear not, there are some things you can do before and during your boozy night to try and limit the damage.
Although there is no known cure for a hangover, here are some quick tips you can use to reduce the risk of a nightmare hangover:
- Eat a nutritious meal before you go out
- Stick to one type of drink – preferably a light coloured one
- Aim to have no more than 1 alcoholic drink per hour
- Drink a glass or water or juice in between each drink
Drink plenty of water
When the alcohol is flowing and you’re getting more late nights than early ones, it’s super important that you up your water intake and stay hydrated.
There’s no set rule for the amount of water we should drink a day, but the NHS recommends around 1.2L a day.
Water, low-fat milk, and sugar-free drinks (including tea and coffee) all count if you don’t like plain old water. Just try not to over-do it with the caffeine!
Here are 13 easy ways to drink more water to help you on your way to hydration.1
Don’t be tempted to extend the festive period
With shops selling Christmas goodies a good two months in advance of the big day, it can be tempting to snack on mince pies in November or keep a tin of chocolates as a permanent fixture in your living room.
Try to avoid buying or making festive treats until December and make sure they are nowhere in sight once the second week of January rolls round.
This will stop you from overindulging early and causing a total relapse in your healthy New Year’s resolution diet.
Handpicked article: 17 weight loss tips to lose it for life
Less of the food guilt
Although you probably don’t want to keep eating in ‘Christmas mode’ for the whole year, just enjoy the festivities and all the delish food that comes with it while you can.
There’s no use feeling guilty or trying to restrict yourself over Christmas when everyone else is tucking into the treats.
That can result in binge-like behaviour and bad mental health.
Our advice? Enjoy everything in moderation – and allow for some extra indulgences over Christmas, it’s really not worth stressing over.
You can get back on track when you actually have the time and mental capacity to do so.
Look after your skin
The potent mixture of cold, windy weather, central heating, and overindulgence can wreak havoc on your skin, so make sure you show it some extra TLC over the festive period.
Here are some quick tips to take your skincare into winter-mode:
Take your skincare into winter-mode
Drinking enough fluids helps battle against dry and dull skin
Turn down your shower temperature
Hot water can wreak havoc on your already-delicate skin barrier, which can cause dry skin
Use a gentle cleanser
Take the day off with a gentler, pH-balanced cleanser
Upgrade your moisturiser
Swap your lightweight summer lotion to a richer, highly nourishing moisturiser
Winter skin care guide
Want glowing skin all year round? Read more to find out our top tips for the perfect winter skin care routine!
Winter skin care guide
The mass consumerism over the festive period can cause Christmas to lose some of its magic.
Help give more (and not just presents) by helping out at your local homeless shelter, volunteering at charity events, fundraising for a good cause, or dishing out some home-baked minced pies around your neighbourhood.
Even just checking in on people you know will probably be lonely this time of year like older relatives and friends you’ve not seen in a while can make a massive impact.
Make time for self-care
Self-care is always needed to keep us at our best, but it becomes even more essential during the festive period when we’re super busy and not getting the alone time to take care of ourselves – especially the introverts among us.
Try and allocate some time for self-care at least once a week where you can relax and rejuvenate.
This looks different for everyone, but here are some self-care practices you can try:
- Taking a bubble bath (leave your phone outside)
- Experimenting with aromatherapy
- Painting or crafting
- Explore nature
- Move your body
- Reading or listening to an audiobook
- Set some goals
- Try a new hobby, like cooking, baking, running, swimming, knitting – anything that takes your fancy
- Write in a journal
- Enjoy a massage or beauty treatment, like a DIY face mask
Keep your brain active
It is all too easy to stay snuggled up on your sofa watching awful (but brilliant) Christmas movies or binging TV on the nights you’re not out on your jollies.
However, you shouldn’t leave your brain dormant for too long – use it or lose it!
Now, we’re not saying you need to get the study books out, but you can try reading a book you actually want to read, play card games, charades, or Trivial Pursuit, or simply doing some fun quizzes on your phone.
Talk it out
Unfortunately, this time of year can be tough for some people.
If you’re struggling for any reason during the festivities, please do not keep it bottled up.
Make sure you talk to someone, whether it’s your family, friends, someone at work, a counsellor, or a dedicated hotline like The Samaritans.
Support your immune system
The last thing you want for Christmas is illness, so it’s important to do everything you can to keep your immune function nice and strong.
This can be quite the task when colds and flus are flying around due to us all congregating in warm places to escape the cold.
Here are a few essential things you can do to keep your immune system fighting fit and ready to fight off pesky colds, flus and other viruses:
- Eat a healthy diet, full of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains to get the vitamins and minerals your immune system needs to function properly. Check out these superfoods to support your immunity.
- Exercise regularly, daily activity helps control your weight and avoid many lifestyle-related diseases. Being active can also help you deal with stress, low mood and depression, all of which can affect your immune system.
- Maintain a healthy weight, being underweight or overweight can have a detrimental affect on your immune system, so try to maintain a healthy weight.2
- Practice good hygiene, wash your hands regularly, keep your environment clean and cook raw foods properly.
- Try to relax, tackling stress is key to a healthy immune system, as chronic stress can cause us to be more prone to sickness.3
If you know your diet is going to fall to the way-side this festive period, it may also be worth looking into some supplements, like vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc.
The best tip we can give you to stay healthy this Christmas?
The festive period can be one of the most fun times of year and you get to spend it with the people you hold nearest and dearest.
Drink the drinks, eat all the food and try to sprinkle in a few of these health tips around all of that so you don’t burnout or get sick.
Last updated: 3 November 2021