Expert: 10 tips for heath and wellness over the holidays

The holidays can be a crazy time of year. We’re running from party to party, trying to squeeze in time for family and friends, and we may let our health take a back seat to the hustle and bustle of the season. However, it’s important to carve out time to focus on taking care of your own health. 

Consider the following tips to be your best self and enjoy this special time of year:

  1. Get moving. Working out encourages our bodies to release the feel-good hormone endorphin which can help relieve stress and other negatives feelings. You may think you’re too tired to squeeze in a workout but don’t skip out. Working out helps energize your body and provides that extra push to get through long days. To maximize health benefits, aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week.
  2. Stick to a schedule and don’t overcommit. Stay focused on what is important during the holidays. You don’t have to say yes to every invitation or holiday get-together. We’re creatures of habit, and our bodies like schedules. While it can be hard and FOMO is real, try to stick with your normal, non-holiday routine as much as possible, especially when it comes to mealtimes. It is also important that you stick to a routine sleep schedule and try to get seven to nine hours per night so your body can recharge.
  3. Step outside. Natural sunlight can do wonders for your mood, and it stimulates the production of serotonin and Vitamin D, both essential for good health.
  4. Hydrate and avoid overindulging. Alcohol is a diuretic and can lead to dehydration. Focus on drinking enough water throughout the entire day, as well as drinking a cup of water in between each alcoholic beverage. Also, do not drink and drive — call a friend or assign a designated driver before you head out to your next gathering.
  5. Manage your expectations. You don’t have to be perfect to enjoy the holidays. Sometimes good enough is just perfect. Set realistic expectations and don’t worry when things may not go according to plan. Incorporating daily mindfulness techniques can help you manage curveballs that the season may throw your way.
  6. Dress for the weather. Winter weather can be unpredictable. Plan ahead to make sure you stay warm and dry. Dressing in layers is a great way to go when you have sunny days and bitter cold nights. Consider wearing weather-appropriate footwear to avoid slips and falls.
  7. Relax when you can. If you start to get tired or worn down, it’s time to look at rebalancing your commitments. Recognizing the signals your body is sending you. This will allow you to take the steps to slow down and evaluate your health and wellness, helping avoid a potential health issue. If you have symptoms such as chest pains, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or fatigue, listen to what your body is telling you and call 911 as these could be warning signs of a heart attack.
  8. Take a good look at your finances. Gifts, outfits, parties, and more — the holiday season can have an impact on your financial budget. To maximize your financial comfort, decide what you can afford, make a budget, and stick to it. No matter how much or how little money you make, you’ll be happier if you control your spending.
  9. Kick your bad habits. If you’ve quit smoking, don’t start again during the holidays. Avoid situations that will tempt you and find some creative and healthy alternatives like swapping a smoke break for a walking break. If you need further assistance with smoking cessation, don’t hesitate to reach out to your primary care provider.
  10. Connect with old friends or make some new ones. Our relationships with family, friends, coworkers, and community members can have a major impact on our health and well-being. Take time to develop and nurture friendships. Be kind, say “thanks,” or send a thank-you note. Ask a friend out for coffee. Join a choir, or a book or service club. The opportunities to build social support are nearly endless.

This time of year is meant to be enjoyed, so don’t let an injury, illness or stress put a damper on your holiday. As the new year approaches, health and wellness are on the mind which makes it a great time to set up your annual exam with your primary care provider. Talk to your provider about ways to develop an effective wellness plan tailored to your lifestyle and needs, not just for the holidays, but all year round.

Cynthia Ciccotelli, M.D., is a third-year resident with the UPMC Williamsport Family Medicine Residency program at UPMC Williamsport. During training, residents complete a Lifestyle Medicine curriculum through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine with the goal of helping patients reverse chronic disease and achieve wellness through lifestyle changes, focusing on diet, exercise, stress management, sleep, socialization, and reducing unhealthy substance use. At the end of residency, they are licensed as Family Medicine physicians and eligible to become board-certified in Lifestyle Medicine. To learn more about the program, go to


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    On the PULSE is an online media outlet in Northcentral, Pennsylvania. We specialize in in-depth journalism, human interest content and video features. Our mission is to build engagement in community through local news.

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On the PULSE

On the PULSE is an online media outlet in Northcentral, Pennsylvania. We specialize in in-depth journalism, human interest content and video features. Our mission is to build engagement in community through local news.