healthy balance

Finding healthy balance over the ‘silly season’

Prioritising your health is something we should all be trying to do more of. Whilst it may be difficult to maintain these habits over the festive season, it’s important to recognise the value of regular exercise, sleep, and good nutrition in ensuring you are reinvigorated, refreshed and ready to take on the new year.

Although maintaining your health and well-being over this time can be a little easier said than done for many of us. In this blog, we explore some tips for keeping active and setting realistic expectations during this time.

Walking is a great way to stay active during this time

Start by walking more to increase your activity levels. Walking is more likely to be sustained due to the ease with which it can be incorporated into an individual’s life. One of the major benefits of regular walking is the way in which it can be adapted to activities of daily living such as commuting to and from work, or whilst taking phone calls.

Research shows that 2-minute bouts of light to moderate walking every 20 minutes after a meal has significant reductions (around 24-30%) in blood glucose levels after eating. Furthermore, other important benefits of simply walking for 10-30 minutes 3 days weekly include improved sleep quality, stress relief, improved mood, cardiorespiratory fitness, improved energy and stamina and reduced fatigue.

If a structured walking program is something you think you could benefit from this festive season, then check out the Heart Foundation’s plethora of fantastic resources and personalised walking programs to get you started.

festive season balance

Your routine will probably change, and that’s okay!

Considering the chaos of this time of year, it’s likely that your routine will be shaken up a bit, and that’s completely fine! It’s important to enjoy yourself with the likely arrival of friends, family and plenty of food. The key message here is to get up and move where possible.

Tips for setting realistic expectations during the holiday period

When setting SMART goals, the ‘R’ stands for realistic. All goals, long or short, should be developed in the context of what is achievable for you in your specific circumstances. Setting realistic expectations of yourself ensures that you don’t lose motivation in your health-related goals, whilst still enabling yourself to have some time to rest and indulge without feeling guilty about your decisions.

Remember, treats are allowed!

It’s completely fine to indulge, enjoy some pavlova, chocolate, and homemade trifle. You deserve a break! Set your boundaries on energy-dense foods or alcohol to avoid overdoing it, but try not to feel guilty when you do get an opportunity to enjoy some of the finer things.

If you know you are someone who is prone to overeating or drinking too much alcohol, set your limits and be clear and accountable to yourself to avoid excessive weight gain.

Taking care of your mental health

Your mental health is essential. For some, Christmas will be a celebration brimming with close friends and family, but the reality is that for many Australian’s, Christmas can be quite a lonely time. While exercise is a fantastic way to boost your mental well-being, sometimes a conversation with a trained medical professional is necessary.

It’s always okay to ask for help and Medicare have recognised this by funding mental health care plans. This means you can talk with a counsellor and up to 20 visits within a calendar year will be subsidised by the government. Alternatively, Beyond Blue is available and provides a free service where you can chat with counsellors 24 hours, 7 days a week. To get in contact call 1300 22 4636.

Okay, you’re all set for a “balanced” festive season!

It’s been another big year, and we all deserve an opportunity to slow down and recharge. This article has hopefully uncovered some handy hints to highlight how you can enjoy the finer things and Christmas festivities whilst maintaining your physical and mental health.

Merry Christmas! And wishing you a healthy, safe, and prosperous new year!

Written by Hayden Kelly. Hayden is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Diabetes NSW and ACT.