For many men, the holidays hit like a ton of bricks. You have to negotiate all the parties and events, you may have delicate gift-giving decisions to make to keep your significant other happy, and your regular routines are likely to be tossed aside as you deal with holiday travel.
All of this can take quite a toll on your body and your overall well-being. But don’t despair! At Texas Men’s Health Group, we’ve got your back as we slide into holiday season, and we’ve got great advice to keep men in Dallas, TX, healthy, happy and strong all the way into the new year.
The Health Challenges of the Holidays
The holidays bring lots of good moments your ways, but they can wreak havoc on your healthy lifestyle. Think about it: there’s a reason gym memberships soar during January. It’s because we’re all trying to undo the damage we did in November and December.
On top of that, you’re likely to experience lack of sleep due to a hectic social calendar and holiday travel demands. As temperatures drop, colds and flu start to spread, and even heart attacks spike during the holiday season. And the stresses of wrapping up work for the year plus any family conflicts can put your mental health into a whirlwind as well.
The good news is that you can take several simple steps to maintain your equilibrium — physical, mental, emotional and even sexual — during the holiday period. Take a look.
Plan Your Eating
Holiday parties and dinners aren’t the only pitfalls to your healthy eating regimen during the holidays. Everywhere you go, you’re surrounded by treats, and the whole vibe of the holiday season encourages you to overindulge. After all, it’s a holiday! You deserve it!
By planning ahead, you can stay on a healthy track while still enjoying the season. Start by thinking through your next day or two. If you have a big party or celebration coming up, this might not be the day to add that peppermint cake pop to your coffee shop order. If you know that your break room will be filled with treats, choose ahead of time which ones are worth the calories. When faced with a holiday buffet, plan to load up on protein, choosing the shrimp cocktail or charcuterie board rather than the cookies. You can also fool your appetite by choosing the smallest plates possible — surprisingly, this trick will help you feel full faster.
Limit Your Alcohol (and Stay Hydrated!)
The temptation to overindulge in the alcohol department is always present during the holidays. Whether it’s a fancy cocktail or a glass of mulled wine, alcohol is everywhere (and often free). You can enjoy celebrating while staying healthy by limiting yourself to a couple of drinks per evening, at the most. Alternate your alcoholic drinks with water to stay hydrated and keep your body in balance. Consider as well mixing your alcoholic beverages with seltzer or water to limit your intake and stay on top of things.
Cut Yourself Some Workout Slack (but Keep Moving!)
The holiday season throws a wrench into your routine in every way, and all too often, it’s your workout regimen that suffers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. You might be due for a break, and your body may be grateful for it. But the combination of slowing down your exercise just as you’re likely to be eating more indulgent foods isn’t healthy.
Don’t chew yourself out if you find you have to change up your workout routine, but don’t dump everything overboard, either. Again, planning ahead can be key here. If you’re going to be traveling, think about how your travel plans may affect your ability to exercise. Perhaps you can make some fun alterations to your normal routine that let you take advantage of your travel plans, such as swapping out some snowshoeing for your time on the treadmill. Tucking some resistance bands into your luggage can make it easy to get in a good workout wherever you are, regardless of the quality of your hotel’s gym.
Look for ways to keep moving during the holidays. Take the stairs. Park at the far end of the mall parking structure. Plan on a brisk walk before or after every holiday meal. Volunteer to play with the younger generation at your family gathering, and get outside to throw a ball around. Take advantage of the many pop-up ice skating rinks that appear even in warm climates at this time of year. Plan active dates, or go for a run when you feel you have to take a break from too much family togetherness. Just keep moving.
Have More Sex (Yes, Really)
It’s not a surprise that having sex makes you feel good. It lowers your stress levels, thanks to the endorphins that flood your body — and anything that lowers stress during the holidays is a good thing. In addition, the boost that sex gives to your oxytocin levels helps you get good sleep, which boosts your overall health and well-being. Find some time for some intimacy with your loved one, and get ready to enjoy the holidays more. (And if you’re facing issues with low libido, it could be time to make an appointment to get your testosterone levels checked.)
Get Some Sleep
Family comes in to town, you have to hit the road, every evening is filled with events — and you’re just not getting the sleep you need. Yes, you’ll feel it on a day-to-day basis, but lack of sleep causes more deficits to your body than you might expect. It affects your gut health, so your body doesn’t get to repair itself and rebuild. Lack of sleep also compromises your ability to make smart decisions, including your choices of what to eat and drink at that holiday party.
Choose Your Indulgences
You should absolutely indulge yourself during the holidays — after all, that’s a big part of what this time of year is for. Just don’t give in to every indulgence. Pick and choose.
What are the indulgences you really love the most? What makes you feel good at the holidays? And what, in contrast, do you just feel obligated to do? Opt for the things you love, and don’t feel guilty about saying no to the things you don’t. You can even plan your holidays around them. Maybe you want to get away for a romantic weekend with your partner and away from family at a posh resort, or perhaps there are holiday shows that are can’t-miss events for you. Do them all, and don’t worry about social pressure to do the things you don’t want to do.
Lean In to Rituals
The holidays can be a wonderful time to go back to your roots by enjoying the rituals you learned from your family. Whether it’s decorating a tree, lighting a menorah, honoring your ancestors for Kwanzaa, feasting on a traditional meal at Thanksgiving, or dressing up for a New Year’s Eve bash, doing the same things every year can be soothing to your soul. Once again, as with indulgences, you should opt for the rituals that matter most to you. Don’t feel you have to set up a lavish display of holiday lights if it just feels like a lot of work for no reason. Choose the rituals that help you keep in touch with who you are and who you want to be.
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Say No to Added Stress
The holidays can heap stress on you from all directions. You might feel tension over visits with relatives, or the financial burden of travel and gifting might rob you of some of the joy of the season. It’s important to know that you have the right to say no. If you don’t want to attend one more party, you don’t have to. If your kids are demanding presents that you can’t give them this year, that’s okay. Don’t want to attend that “mandatory” family gathering at your cousin’s house? You get to make your own decision.
You can even disengage from events you’ve already committed to. If that political argument is getting out of hand at a family dinner, you have permission to leave the room, go for a walk, or even head home. Or maybe your co-workers’ behavior is getting out of hand at the work party. There’s no reason you have to stick around.
Giving yourself the freedom to say no is more than a matter of protecting your own mental health. Stress takes a toll on your body as well, with the capacity to harm your cardiovascular health, your gut health and your overall well-being. When you start the holiday season by deciding who and what you’ll decline, you’re striking a positive blow for your own health.
See Your Doctor If Needed
It’s so easy to ignore your own body during the holidays. Many men in Dallas look at their loaded calendars and tell themselves they don’t have time to be sick. Don’t fall into that trap. If you find yourself feeling unwell physically or otherwise, you don’t have to wait for the new year or try to push through it. Get yourself to your doctor and get the help you need.
Say Yes to Gratitude
The holidays are a great time to reflect on all the good things in your life. Thanksgiving gets you started in that direction, so go with it throughout the season. Think about writing down everything you’re grateful for each day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. You might want to reach out to the people you love and share your appreciation with them. Some men like to prep themselves for the fresh start of the new year by focusing on moving consciously toward their values each day. Whatever you choose, saying yes to gratitude during the holidays can help make this an especially meaningful time of year.
We’re Here for You Year Round
At Texas Men’s Health Group, we have your overall health and wellness in mind every month of the year. When you’re ready to fight back against the effects of aging, we’re ready to help. If you’re dealing with the signs of low testosterone, we can put you on the right path. When you’re trying to figure out why your brain is fuzzy, you’re not sleeping or you’re gaining weight, we have solutions.
We want men in Dallas to enjoy a full, vital life, and we’ve got the experience to help you get there. Treat yourself to the fun of the holiday season, find pleasure in the little moments of life and call us when it’s time to get your body aligned with your desires and your priorities.