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Healthy Holiday Habits This Season

6 min read

By Olivia DiPede

Medically Reviewed by Patty Weasler, RN
  • While it’s important to take time to relax and enjoy the holiday season, it’s also important to incorporate healthy habits to feel the best version of yourself.
  • Boost your immune system by washing your hands often, staying active, considering the flu shot, and prioritizing sleep.
  • Keep your mental health strong by managing alcohol consumption, consciously indulging, managing stress, and maintaining a healthy routine.

While the holiday season is a time of year that many look forward to, it can also come with its stress. During this time of year, many people tend to fall out of their healthy routines and indulge, especially with the time off work and a long list of gatherings with friends and family. With the holidays around the corner, let’s take a look at some habits you should consider this holiday season to keep you feeling healthy and happy:

Wash Hands Often

The holidays are a common time for the spread of germs. It’s flu season, and with the increase in gatherings with friends and family, there is a higher potential for viruses to spread around. The best way to protect yourself during the holiday time is to wash your hands frequently.

The proper way to wash your hands is with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 


Dress Warm

While it may be easy to skip your morning walk when it’s chilly outside, it’s still very possible to enjoy time outdoors during the holidays. The key to spending time outside in the winter is to dress appropriately for the outdoors.

Warm layers, puffer coats, hats, gloves, and scarves can help combat the winter chill. Waterproof boots that have good traction to walk on ice and snow are also important to combat the winter weather.

Shutterstock/Ground Picture

Stay Active

While it’s easy to slip out of your healthy routine during the holidays, it’s important to continue to stay active to feel your best. You don’t have to shame yourself if you skip a workout, but it is important to sprinkle some healthy activity into your holiday routine.

Maybe it’s taking your children skating, going for a family walk after dinner, or even something as simple as opting for the stairs instead of the escalator while holiday shopping.


Consider The Flu Shot

As previously mentioned, it’s common for viruses to be spread during the holidays, especially with the increase in social gatherings. One preventative measure you can take to protect yourself is to consider getting a flu shot.

Mayo Clinic explains that since the flu virus evolves so quickly, it’s necessary to get a flu shot every year since last year’s vaccine may not protect you from this year’s viruses. The flu shot is slightly adjusted each year to keep up with rapidly adapting flu viruses.


Manage Alcohol Consumption

Having a drink or two at a social gathering is common during the holiday season, just make sure not to overdo it. Alcohol contains a lot of calories and hinders your logical thinking, which could lead to a potentially dangerous situation.

It’s best to limit yourself to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women to avoid overdoing it. It’s also important to ensure you’re drinking water and staying hydrated to help avoid a hangover and put less strain on your system. Be sure to never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking, and help others do the same.

Shutterstock/Ground Picture

Consciously Indulge

It’s easy to overindulge over the holidays, especially when it comes to spending, food, and alcohol consumption. Indulging too much, however, can actually end up setting you back and making you feel worse even if it’s enjoyable in the moment.

If you want to feel the best version of yourself during the holidays, be sure to take a conscious approach to indulgence. There’s definitely a way to enjoy yourself while still remaining true to your healthy lifestyle and finding a balance.

Shutterstock/Ground Picture

Practice Car Safety

With an increase in holiday gatherings also comes an increase in holiday driving. Be sure to practice car safety during the holidays to ensure a safe and healthy season. Ensure to buckle your children in the car using a safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt according to their height, weight, and age.

It’s also important to be sure to have your snow tires on in advance if you live in a climate where the roads may become slick or icy. Lastly, never get behind the wheel if you are impaired, and always drive responsibly for both yourself and others on the road.

Shutterstock/Jaroslav Francisko

Prioritize Sleep

Sleep is the foundation of feeling happy and healthy. When you lack sleep, it can become more challenging to choose healthy options when it comes to other areas of life such as food and exercise. The National Sleep Foundation recommends getting 7 to 9-hours of sleep per night, even during the holidays.

A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that those who slept at least eight hours of sleep per night were three times less likely to catch a cold than those who slept less than seven. The study also found that getting enough sleep helps to moderate the hunger hormone grehlin.


Manage Stress

There’s no denying that the holidays can be stressful. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, it’s best to take time for self-care and focus on how to make yourself feel relaxed and calm. You could try meditating, exercising, reading a book, or going for a walk. Taking time for yourself will help you make more rational decisions when it comes to stressful scenarios during the holidays.

It can also be helpful to evaluate the cause of your stress. If it’s the pressure of the overwhelming list of gifts you need to buy, you could try suggesting a white elephant gift exchange or planning a family activity rather than making the holidays all about gifts.

Shutterstock/Zivica Kerkez

Keep Up Your Healthy Routine

It’s easy to fall out of your healthy routine during the holidays, especially if you have time off work and lack structure. While the holidays are definitely a time to kick back, relax and enjoy time with family, it’s important to do so feeling your best.

Be sure to still incorporate your healthy routines during the holidays that you would normally do during a regular work week, such as filling up your water bottle in the morning or hitting an afternoon fitness class. While your schedule may look different this time of year, it’s still important to take care of yourself, your body, and your mental health.

Shutterstock/Foxys Forest Manufacture

Make A New Year Plan

The holidays mark the end of the year and the start of a fresh chapter. This time can be an amazing opportunity to evaluate how the year went and consider changes you might want to implement moving forward. This could be in the form of new year’s resolutions or simply just overall goals you hope to achieve in the coming year.

Maybe you want to spend more time with family or implement a new fitness goal. This time of year is the perfect opportunity to slow down, evaluate your goals, and plan actionable steps to make them happen.

Shutterstock/vesna cvorovic

Don’t Shame Yourself

Lastly, the holidays are a time of year to take a break and spend time with family. As important as it is to feel your best, it’s also important to not shame yourself if you fall out of routine or overindulge.

If you end up off track during the holiday season, just simply try again the next day. Giving up will simply make hitting your new year’s goals even more challenging. It’s all about balance and finding a schedule that works with your plans but allowing yourself grace if things don’t always go according to schedule.

Shutterstock/Evgeny Atamanenko


Patty is a freelance health writer and nurse (BSN, CCRN). She has worked as a critical care nurse for over 10 years and loves educating people about their health. When she's not working, Patty enjoys any outdoor activity that she can do with her husband and three kids.

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