Healthy and fit through the holidays

Beautiful, harmonious and idyllic, it should be a peaceful celebration under the wonderfully decorated Christmas tree, with fine food and perfectly selected gifts that exactly meet your wishes. The adults are relaxed and the children are happy to play with their new gifts. Yeah, that's the way it should be. But usually such a striving for harmony and family idyll leads to the opposite effect.

The parents are stressed, overwhelmed by all the preparations and would like to have their peace and quiet. The children are exuberant, excited by the many gifts and hard to control. This further upsets the parents, which is not only unpleasant but also unhealthy. Because the adrenaline level increases and with it blood pressure and heart rate. And the silent and holy night is over.

Here are a few tips that can help to make the Christmas season a wonderful festive and pleasant experience:

The overriding rule for this is that everything doesn't have to be perfect. Because the unhealthy Christmas stress is often connected with your own exaggerated idea of a perfect party. So think carefully about what is important to you at Christmas. Do you really have to invite all your relatives, or would you rather just celebrate in a small circle? Does the party always have to take place at your place, or can't the hosts change once in a while? Does it always have to be a common menu, or is it not just a restaurant visit, an uncomplicated cold buffet, or maybe just a nice coffee and a walk? Take the time beforehand to plan your Christmas days exactly according to your wishes and think about what you can achieve. In the peace and quiet lies the strength, and not in the hectic pace and in having to do everything at all costs.

The second rule is: delegate tasks. It is important that you get together with your relatives and friends, with whom you want to celebrate together. Discuss your ideas and discuss them together. Then each of the participants will take on one or more tasks for which only they - and not you - are responsible. This relieves the strain and frees the mind for other things.

Particularly important: Find a uniform gift cone. This way you can save yourself a lot of stress before and on Christmas Eve. In the family, for example, it is possible to agree on giving gifts only to the children, or to combine them into community gifts, which are then provided by one participant at a time. With vouchers you can avoid disappointments and also shopping stress.

The menu plan can also be simplified. Nowadays, a festive meal does not have to be equated with much and costly. What is more important than a bombastic banquet menu is that you sit together relaxed, have time for each other, can tell each other stories and participate in the lives of others. After all, Christmas is a feast of love - and not a feast of calories. So plan a light cuisine with dishes that you can prepare well in advance. And if guests come in from outside, ask them right away if they can make a contribution to eating together. All this benefits your stress level, but also your slim line and your cardiovascular system.

Christmas also has something to do with rituals. Consider which activities could enrich the holidays besides food and social gatherings and which rituals you would like to continue or perhaps introduce in the first place. This can be the church walk, the extended Christmas walk or a concert or theatre visit. Especially over the Christmas days many events are offered. If there are artistically talented people in your family, you can create your own programme with music, poems or favourite stories.

Go out in the open. Sitting around in warm rooms with lots of food makes you tired, weak and often unbalanced and irritable. If the whole family spends three days in the apartment, there is a risk of camp fever. Exercise in the fresh air lifts the circulation, lifts the mood and helps the body process the holiday treats. If you go for extended winter walks, even in bad weather, then the homecoming back to the cosy apartment is especially nice. Give the children the opportunity to let off steam, for example during a scavenger hunt, on the ice rink or while trying out the sports equipment under the Christmas presents in the next park, and recharge your batteries.

The last golden rule is, don't overload anything. Especially young people need free time on the holidays - also for their friends. Let them free this one. And it's also good for most adults to be able to retreat on their own and do something by themselves, e. g. read a book or get their jogging shoes out of the wardrobe, in order to start implementing good intentions before the New Year's Eve.


Copyright: Landeszentrale fuer Gesundheitsfoerderung in Rheinland-Pfalz e.V. (LZG) Germany

Text: Dr. Beatrice Wagner, Editor: Birgit Kahl