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November 18, 2019

Self-care is not selfish this holiday season

Jill Verchota-Luce

The action-packed and stressful nature of the holiday season, layered on top of the icy cold weather and short days of winter can make keeping up with a healthy lifestyle seem out of reach. It’s no wonder we tend to gain the most weight during the holidays and find ourselves weighing more in March compared to the previous September.1 Unfortunately, studies show that we don’t typically lose that weight in the spring or summer, which may contribute to steady weight gain as we age.

Instead of focusing on the challenges of this time of year, consider ways you can reframe how you approach self-care at home as well as ways to build a culture of wellness in the workplace. Keep excess weight gain at bay, keep your immune system in check and feel better all-around this holiday season with this new outlook on taking much needed time for yourself.   

It’s a 2-month jump start on your New Year’s goal
Did you know that 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail? Setting unrealistic goals without a plan for how to make it happen or wiggle room for a bad week or weeks, may be to blame. Feel great going into 2020 knowing you took realistic steps to take care of yourself heading into the new year.  

Try it out! Make progress with this goal-setting exercise:

  1. Ask yourself what you need to make a priority this season. Is it staying active? Not getting drained and catching a cold? Alleviating stress? Not overindulging on office treats?
  2. Set a specific, realistic goal for yourself. Baby steps are best here. Create a small goal that you can achieve and then add on from there. For example, maybe you can commit to walking at lunch a few days of the week.
  3. Take it a step further to make it happen by creating a plan. This step is often forgotten, but it’s crucial for setting yourself up for success. Decide on the what, where, when and how to make your wellness goal a reality!

Consider sharing this goal-setting exercise in a company newsletter. Make self-care part of your corporate culture.

Food is part of the plan – make a seasonal swap

While winter gets a bad rap when it comes to fruits and vegetables in Minnesota, there are plenty of great options for healthy swaps at holiday meals.

  • Swap white potatoes for sweet potatoes for a beta-carotene boost your eyes and skin will thank you for.
  • Save on summer favorites such as green beans by buying frozen and swap out the classic green bean casserole with a new dish with a healthy twist.
  • Many herbs can be successfully grown indoors year-round and can be a great swap for that heavy dose of gravy to flavor foods.
  • Swap stuffing with oranges for some citrus flare this Thanksgiving. You’ll find an abundance of juicy citrus on sale this time of the year.

Consider Hosting an ‘all things squash’ employee cooking and taste testing competition to inspire healthier eating during this holiday season.

Slow down. Breathe.
With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays it can be easy to rush through without taking a moment to breathe and take it all in. Even the simple beautiful things like that first snow flake can be missed. Take a moment to pause, if only for a few minutes, to take a few deep “belly breaths.” You should see your belly rise when you inhale, not your chest.

Consider helping employees stay in the moment by offering onsite guided meditation, promote a phone app such as Headspace that has free meditations available or host onsite massage sessions as a thank you to employees at the end of the year.  

Be active. Get physical.
Need a break from in-laws? Too many cooks in the kitchen? Kids home from school starting to get cabin fever? Set some time aside each day for physical activity, shooting for a total of 150 minutes per week (or whichever amount is realistic for you, and step it up from there). Anything counts – that indoor loop around the mall, a stroll in your neighborhood or fitness routine from an app on your phone.

Consider offering a series of onsite fitness classes to give employees a taste of an indoor routine they can try out at home or offer an online fitness platform as an employee benefit.

Feel better knowing you took the time this holiday season to make your self-care a priority by creating a few simple action steps for yourself, eating a few less heavy, sugary foods because you swapped them out with fresh options and took time to breathe and sweat it out! Hello New Year, I’m ready for ya!


  1. Yanovski, J. et al. (2000). A prospective study of holiday weight gain. New England Journal of Medicine.
  2. Luciani, J. (2015). Why 80% of New Year’s Resolutions Fail. U.S. News and World Report.