11 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

BHG's Health Editor Christian Millman shares his favorite expert tips for beating stress and staying healthy through the holidays.


  1. Wrap happily. Wrapping gifts can be a real pain in the back -- especially of you do it on the floor, which strains the neck and lower back, said professional ergonomist Chris Adams. The most comfortable way to wrap is to stand on a mat in front of a countertop.
  2. Grab some candy. Pluck a striped candy cane off the tree and indulge in this classic holiday treat. Peppermint oil in the cane acts as a calming tonic for stress relief. Make sure the candy canes you buy contain real peppermint oil.
  3. Let lips linger. One kiss-and-tell survey showed that couples who smooch often are eight times less likely to feel stressed or depressed. Meet under the mistletoe as often as you can for a little therapy.
  4. Drink in merriment. Dark chocolate reduces blood pressure. Heat 3/4 cup milk in a saucepan over medium heat until just before boiling. Remove from heat and transfer to a large mug. Stir in 1 ounce coarsely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate pieces. Let stand for about 30 seconds then stir to combine.
  5. Make a joyful noise. Grab some friends and go caroling -- or just pipe up in the privacy of your own home. Studies show the forceful exhalations that come with singing help protect the upper respiratory system from infection.
  6. Rest your weary head. The holidays can be overwhelming. James Maas, psychologist at Cornell University and author of Power Sleep, recommends fighting back by taking a 15- to 20-minute nap to rejuvenate.
  7. Examine your sole. Christmas shopping can take a toll on your feet as well as your wallet. When you get home, put a towel around one foot, grasp both ends of the towel, and pull your toes toward you for 15 seconds, then release. Do this until you feel the soreness slip away. Then switch feet.
  8. Curtail sores. It never fails -- just as the big day approaches, a cold sore breaks out. Use a Christmas-y cure: Buy a small bottle of myrrh tincture at a health food store and dab the liquid directly on the cold sore using a cotton swab. Do this at least three times and as much as 10 times a day until the sore is gone.
  9. Wander in wonder. Don't drive to see the best-decorated houses in your neighborhood; walk instead. You'll reap the rewards of a closer look while squeezing in some exercise.
  10. Light the night. In late winter months, the lack of sun can make even the cheeriest sorts a little gloomy. Make your home as bright as possible with extra Christmas lights and candles. Take a walk outdoors around lunch when the sun is at its brightest.
  11. Navigate the snack platter. If you have holiday parties to attend, you know how easy it can be to fill up on cheese puffs and Swedish meatballs. Edie Shaw-Ewald, RD, says to opt for healthier alternatives, such as shrimp, raw veggies, hummus, and olives.

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