How to Stay Healthy During Holidays Amid COVID-19
Smells of turkey, stuffing, squash casserole, and pecan pie wafted through the air as joyful music notes bounced off the walls. It was time to eat dinner — in front of a computer screen with video conferencing software pulled up.
This is how many people celebrated Thanksgiving this year, and it’s no surprise that this holiday season looks different. No matter whether you gather with family or choose to connect virtually, keeping your physical — and mental — health a priority is essential.
“It’s important to maintain your healthy habits, especially during busier times of the year,” said Joanna Corp, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Physical Health and Wellness specialist. “These habits can boost your immunity, give you more energy, and help you feel better in general.”
- Keep up with your normal sleep routine. Staying up late and sleeping in can throw your body out of balance. If you’re traveling, be mindful of the elements you can control such as not eating too close to bedtime and going to sleep when you’re truly tired.
- Pay attention to your alcohol intake and avoid excessive use. Home Base, a WWP Warrior Care Network® partner, offers low-risk drinking guidelines.
- You may not have input on what friends or family serve for a meal. Try eating fruits, veggies, or a healthy snack beforehand that will help limit your consumption of tempting food or drinks. Healthy snacks can boost your immunity, too!
- Find ways to move throughout the day — especially after sitting for an hour or more. Whether that’s taking a walk or going up and down the stairs an extra time, incorporating movement can keep you at your best.
- Hydrate! Water can increase your energy and help flush out anything not-so-healthy you might have consumed.
- Be open-minded. Things will look different this year. Just because you may not be able to follow all your old traditions doesn’t mean you can’t start new ones. Maybe you can do a recipe exchange or browse through pictures from previous holidays, for example.
- Plan ahead when possible. This could include setting a budget for meal or gift shopping. It could also involve setting aside certain days for shopping — maybe during non-peak hours, cooking, and gathering. Having a plan will help eliminate last-minute stress.
- Give deep-breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga a try. Although these are physical activities, they can make a world of difference for your mental health.
- Spend some time outdoors. Exposure to the sun can be calming and help with mindfulness. Likewise, spending time in nature can help with stress management and your mental energy level.
- Pay attention to how much time you’re spending scrolling through your social media feeds or watching news. Too much can result in increased stress.
- Consider support groups or phone lines such as WWP Talk to help prepare you for the holidays. A lot of free resources are available.
"Staying connected during the holidays can be extremely helpful with staying on track and combating stress,” said Erika Myers, WWP Talk specialist. “WWP Talk provides support to work through challenges and accountability to stay focused on your goals through the holidays and beyond."
- Boundaries are another important thing to consider. If your loved ones are pressuring you to visit, but you’re uncomfortable with that, know that you have options. You can offer to video chat with them, or simply tell them you’re uncomfortable or unavailable.
- Keep in mind that it is OK to celebrate in your own way. This could involve giving back to others or carving out some time for self-care.
“Look out for virtual events or activities for veterans around the holidays,” said Mike Tobias, WWP Independence Program specialist. “It can feel good to stay connected — even if it looks different this year. Another way to celebrate can simply be watching your favorite holiday movie or reading a book.”
No matter how you’re recognizing the holidays, there are countless ways to keep your mental and physical health a priority. You can be with your family, if you choose, while still working around challenges like COVID-19.
About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.