School Health and Wellness//
November 30, 2023
The holidays are busy, packed with festive meals, family commitments, and fun outings. This extra hustle and bustle can make it challenging to maintain healthy habits—but that doesn't mean it's impossible.
And if you're already feeling the stress of the holiday season, you're not alone. Sleepopolis—an independent, unbiased website that researches, analyzes, and reviews mattresses and other sleep products—surveyed over 1,000 American adults on holiday wellness habits to see how they anticipate their sleep, mental health, and nutrition will change this season.
The survey found that 80% of Americans say that the expectations and events around the holidays cause them to feel increased stress.
We’ve compiled the following list of healthy habits to consider this holiday season.
Communicate Your Commitments
Share your health commitments with your friends and family members. This helps you avoid awkward questions and conversations about your choices. And don't feel defensive—your health is personal, and how you eat and move your body is unique to you.
Eliminate the All-or-Nothing Mindset
A common pitfall with health and wellness initiatives is the belief that your health goals are all-or-nothing. This mindset may set you up for failure, especially during the holidays, when temptations are at their highest.
If you fail to stick to your healthy holiday habits, adjust your plans and remind yourself that tomorrow is a new opportunity.
Practice Mindful Eating
The holidays are filled with an abundance of “special occasion” choices. So, when indulging in your favorite holiday treats, it’s important to practice mindful eating.
Harvard Public School of Health says mindful eating intentionally focuses on thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations in the present moment. While eating, practice these steps.
- Engage all your senses. What does the food smell like? What is the texture?
- Serve in modest portions.
- Savor small bites and chew thoroughly.
- Eat slowly to avoid overeating.
- Don't skip meals.
And when you're not indulging in your favorite holiday treats, aim for high-quality, nutrient-dense foods that will provide vitamins and minerals while keeping you feeling full.
Encourage others and boost your movement during the holidays by participating in group activities that get your heart pumping. Plan an after-dinner walk, sign up for a holiday race together, or play with the kids outdoors.
Sleep is paramount to maintaining all your healthy habits. When sleep is lacking, other decisions become more challenging, such as making wise food choices—not to mention the reduced energy you will have for being active.
And nearly three in ten people say they get less sleep around the holidays, according to the Sleepopolis survey. To find out more, we asked Dr. Shelby Harris, director of sleep health for Sleepopolis.
Here's what she had to say.
How does sleep enhance an individual’s holiday experience?
Getting better sleep during the holiday can enhance your overall experience by improving your mood, energy levels, and cognitive function. It can also help you manage stress and enjoy holiday activities without feeling fatigued.
Tune in to live webinars every week during the school year to get specific, research-backed insight you can immediately apply at your school.
If someone feels sleep-deprived during the school year, can they catch up on their sleep during the holiday break?
You can "catch up" on sleep to some extent. However, it is essential to note that sleep debt accumulates over time, and it takes more than just a few days or weeks to fully recover from chronic sleep deprivation fully.
What tips can you give us for better sleep during the busy holiday season?
To get better sleep during the busy holiday season, stick to your regular sleep schedule; create a relaxing bedtime routine; make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and calm; avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed; get regular exercise; and see a doctor if you have trouble sleeping.
If needed, you can take short naps during the afternoon (before 2 p.m. for most people) and for no more than 30 minutes. Eat a healthy diet, manage stress, get enough sunlight, and limit screen time before bed.
How does better sleep during the holiday break help school leaders when they return to school?
Better sleep during the holiday break is essential for school leaders to return to school feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to face the new year's challenges. Getting enough sleep can help school leaders improve their mood and mental health, enhance their cognitive function, increase their physical stamina, improve their physical health, and enhance their leadership skills. It can also help them make better decisions, be more creative, and effectively manage their time.
What are the long-term benefits of getting adequate sleep?
Getting adequate sleep is essential to maintain good physical and mental health. There are many long-term benefits, including enhanced brain function and memory, reduced risk of chronic diseases, improved mental health and emotional well-being, a stronger immune system, and increased longevity. By prioritizing sleep, you invest in your overall health and well-being, both now and in the future.
What else should school leaders know about sleep during the holidays?
In addition to the points mentioned, it is essential for school leaders to set a good example for staff and students. By caring for their sleep and stress management, they can lead by example and create a healthier work environment. This can include setting boundaries for work, taking time for self-care, and ensuring they have the opportunity to recharge during the holiday break.