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The holidays are just about here. It’s a time for family and friends, giving and sharing, favorite foods, time-honored traditions, and worship. On the flip side, it’s also hectic. The shopping, the cooking, the decorating, entertaining and endless activities often add up to a lot of stress. And as you know, stress can make you vulnerable to illness, accidents and emergencies. The holidays are also a time of deep depression for many people and flu season for all of us.
The question is how can you maintain a balanced, healthy life and still enjoy the Holiday Season?
Primarily, try your best to stick to your healthy habits or invent some new ones. Keep taking that multivitamin to boost your immune system and remember, overindulgence is not your friend. Neither is the couch potato routine.
Here are some healthy strategies for taking care of yourself during the holidays:

• Avoid Overeating. When you go to parties or luncheons, have a good snack before you go. Eating some cut-up veggies with hummus, peanut butter and crackers, a cup of low calorie soup, a small bowl of cereal or even a half of a tuna sandwich will go a long way in curbing your appetite at holiday gatherings.

• Sidestep Alcohol Over-consumption. Always eat before you drink and eat while you drink. Foods high in protein slow down the absorption of alcohol. Things like appetizers, nuts, cheese and crackers are all good options. Set a drink limit before a gathering as to how many you will have. Make every other drink water, tea, juice, or try a ‘virgin’ mixed drink like tonic and lime without the gin or a Bloody Mary without the vodka.

• Keep Exercising. Maintain your walking schedule, if you have one. Even a 30-minute walk keeps the metabolism humming. You don’t have to join the gym to stay fit. Invest in a fitness DVD or choose an exercise routine on YouTube to use at home. There are plenty of great options from yoga and Zumba, to walking or Tai Chi. Then set aside 3 or 4 days a week to exercise. You’ll be amazed at how much fitter you will feel during and after the holidays. To put some extra steps in your day, take the stairs whenever you can; park your car a little farther away from work or shopping; or make a new habit of going for an after dinner stroll with your family.

• Win the Battle with Depression. Don’t overdo with spending or commitments. Make a conscious plan to add some ‘me’ time into your holidays. What activities restore you? Does a nap help, or listening to favorite music, going for a drive, reading a good book, or just talking with a special friend energize you? Try meditation. Only a few minutes daily of quiet breathing and emptying your busy brain will reduce your stress levels thousand-fold. Volunteer somewhere. Nothing helps get you away from your own issues better than helping someone else. Make it a regular activity to get outside each day, go for a walk and soak up some sunshine.

These are only a few ways you can make your holidays a more healthful and relaxing time for you and your family. Why not brainstorm a list of your own? And, if you start now, you’ll already have a leg up on those New Year’s resolutions!