Staying Healthy During the Holidays

Ask Deborah: Answering your questions on health ministry

by Deborah Patterson

Q: The holiday season often is an unhealthy time for eating, drinking, and exercising. What can we do in the church to encourage folks to stick with their healthy lifestyles?

A: As the church year begins with Advent, you might encourage folks to begin their New Year’s resolutions during this time, which will give them a jump on the calendar’s new year in January. Remind them that healthy lifestyles are about adding good things to your life, like the glow you feel from a good workout, and not taking things away from them (like lying in an inert state on the couch or eating a warm sugar donut).
Why not build on the theme of the wise men bringing gifts to Jesus and encourage people to give themselves gifts of health during the Advent season? Here are ten suggestions for gifts from among which wise people might choose three for themselves to stay healthy during the holiday season:

  1. Take time for self-care with a massage, which helps promote the movement of fluids in the body through the lymph system and releases stress from muscles and other tissue.
  2. Buy yourself a nice drinking glass to encourage yourself to drink more water every day.
  3. Buy yourself a new pillow and go to bed 10 minutes earlier than usual.
  4. Join a health club now and learn to use the fitness machines before the crowd gets there in January.
  5. Start an Advent walking group to walk through the malls and enjoy the holiday music.
  6. Laughter is a wonderful medicine, and the analgesic (pain reducing) quality of laughter is magnified when we laugh together. Go out with friends to watch a fun holiday movie together.
  7. Buy your holiday gifts at small local stores and avoid the stress of the big box stores.
  8. Turn off the television—each hour you watch takes 21 minutes off your life. Watch a holiday movie on TV while you are doing something else, such as standing up and wrapping presents or doing some early holiday cooking to stick in the freezer.
  9. Mix up healthy holiday drinks, like sparkling water mixed with a little cranberry juice. Or try this healthy holiday nog: four bananas, 1½ cups skim or soy milk, 1½ cups plain nonfat yogurt and ¼ teaspoon rum extract. Puree all ingredients until smooth. Top with a dash of nutmeg.
  10. It is more blessed to give than to receive: get out there and help some other folks—at the food pantry, doing some home repairs, running errands for others.

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