Stress Management

Want to Make Your Holidays Healthier?

Riikka LamminenContent Manager, Firstbeat

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year… but it isn’t always the healthiest one.

Hustle and bustle. Treats and delicacies. Parties and drinks. When all is said and done, you may find yourself wishing for a vacation from your holiday season.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be like that. With a few simple but significant choices, you can enjoy a fulfilling Christmas, and start the new year well-balanced and energized.

Discover how to get through Christmas healthier than ever.

Sleep in heavenly peace

Christmas holidays are a notorious time for bad sleep. Anticipation of the big day keeps kids (and parents) awake, late parties, and all the hassle interrupts our normal rhythms.

It’s not just how many hours of sleep you get, but how well your body recovers during the night that matters. Just because you are asleep doesn’t mean your body is getting the bounce back you need. This happens if the activity of your parasympathetic nervous system is inadequate, and your physiology is stuck in overdrive.

With Firstbeat’s Sleep Quality Assessment you can see how well your sleep replenished your energy levels.

How can you improve your overnight recovery?

Several things impact sleep quality, some of them come down to individual differences and some you can influence in the long run, like your Fitness Level.

Luckily, you can influence your sleep quality on a day-to-day basis as well.

During the holiday season, alcohol is the most common cause of decreased sleep quality. Even a single drink can have a negative effect on sleep quality. Creamy eggnog and warm spiced wine are an essential part Christmas for many, but if you drink alcohol every evening, your holiday won’t be very relaxing.

It is also good to avoid overindulging, especially late at night, get some fresh air occasionally and try to stick to your normal sleeping routine at least to some extent.

Rock around the Christmas tree

Christmas treats aren’t famous for being low-fat or sugar-free and counting calories at the Christmas table isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. Shifting your focus towards burning calories instead is a good solution. And that can be done in a holly, jolly way.

Play tag with children or go sledding (may all your Christmases be white).

Some less playful Christmas activities, like shopping and cleaning, can be effective calorie burners too, so don’t be shy about rolling up your sleeves. And, take heart knowing that navigating a bustling mall can help you reach your daily activity goals.

Firstbeat’s Calories Burned tells how many calories you have burned, be it rocking around the Christmas tree or walking in winter wonderland. Of course, the benefits of physical activity extend well beyond how many calories you burn.

Staying active during holidays can help you feel refreshed, boosts your mood, improves your sleep quality… and it’s also good to remember that during periods of physical inactivity fitness declines rather quickly.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Christmas is meant to be a time of joy, relaxation and goodwill, but for many it is one of the most stressful times of the year. Overcrowded shopping malls, tight schedules and endless to-do lists are obvious stressors, but other factors can cause stress during holiday season.

Difficult relationships, unpleasant memories, and trying to meet everyone’s expectations are all common sources of stress during Christmas.

Effective stress management means understanding that difficult experiences aren’t the only sources of stress in our lives. The excitement of a house full of loved ones, kids playing loudly, giving and receiving gifts, and anticipation of the big day can all contribute increased stress.

Remember to slow down, catch your breath and enjoy the holiday season.

Stress is a natural part of life but it is the balance between stress and recovery that really matters.

During the holidays, it is especially important take time for yourself. Give your body a chance to recover. Go for an easy walk, relax next to the fireplace, read a book, or whatever works for you personally.

Firstbeat’s All-day Stress & Recovery reveals the presence and intensity of stress and recovery reactions in your body and helps you to find the right balance during holidays.

Let your heart be light

A happy, balanced life doesn’t mean making 100% healthy choices all year round.

There is room for indulgence, delicacies, and revelry, as well - and Christmas is as good a time as any. The choices you make between New Year’s Day and Christmas time have the biggest impact.

Don’t feel like exercising, keeping up your diet, or maximizing sleep quality during Christmas time?

Don’t. Be kind to yourself, enjoy the moment.

Concentrate on simply having a wonderful Christmas time.

Willing to receive valuable, science-backed information of exercise and well-being all-year-round?

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Riikka Lamminen

Content Manager, Firstbeat

Riikka is an Exercise Physiologist (M.Sc.) who has worked for several years in the fields of communication and journalism. Now, at Firstbeat she combines those two pathways in a great way. General wellness and healthy living have always inspired Riikka and now she is able to spread the word via her Firstbeat blogs. Physical activity is an inseparable part of Riikka’s life. She rides a bicycle everywhere, relaxes by paddling at the sea and challenges herself with some acrobatics.

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