1. No Arguing at the Table

Make this a ground-rule that you send to your family members ahead of time. Focus on the joy and positive interactions.

2. Include Daily Exercise

It’s a good time to get a head-start on New Years goal #1 – exercising and losing weight. What better way than to exercise…it’s like giving yourself a gift. Start gradually and talk to your primary care health practitioner if you haven’t exercised in some time. Walks and simple calisthenics exercises are a good way to start.

3. Do Something Fun

It’s your holiday after-all. Plan fun outings with family, friends or on your own: skating, tobogganing, hot tubs, making snow-angels.

4. Make Your Lists Ahead of Time

Gift list, party invitation list, grocery list…do them all ahead of time. No one likes rushing around last minute, especially when line-ups can be so long at this time of year. Avoid the stress and frustration and plan ahead. Schedule time right now in your organizer – “LIST MAKING TIME.”

5. Eat Treats Lightly

Eating to excess is a stress on your digestive system. It’s okay to have a treat during the holidays but come up with a reasonable level. For instance, choose one treat with each party you attend or organize but keep it at that; or, limit serving sizes, such as having half-sized servings. Keep in mind that excess sugar and alcohol promotes inflammation which can have a negative effect on your heart health.

6. Avoid Trans-Fats

Trans-fats also promote cardiovascular inflammation and is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. There are so many trans-fat free options at the grocery stores, so choose those options. From donuts, gravies, crackers to cookies, read your labels so you know what you’re eating.

7. Take Breaks

Make sure to schedule down time during the holiday season. Avoid more than one party each day and more than one shopping excursion each day. This means you need to plan your holiday schedule in advance. Plan a few days off in a row if you can to make sure you have enough of a break to actually feel rested before going back to work or school.

8. Recall Good Memories

Whether its old photo albums, calling long lost friends, or old-fashioned storytelling, make sure to remember exciting experiences to bring warmth and joy to your heart. Sharing them with friends/family multiplies the pleasure.

9. Keep Work to a Minimum

You may have a hard time getting away from work, but don’t let the habit of work invade your holiday time. Be clear with your co-workers and manager that you will not be accessible over your holiday. Holidays need your protection!

10. Read and Write

Often we neglect our personal time for self-reflection and self-development during the typical work week. Pick up a good book or your journal and start reading and writing on what you’re truly interested in.

11. Get Disconnected

What I mean is try to reduce your use of your technology, i.e., smart phone. The constant beeping, messaging and checking makes you a totally different person…during the holidays, limit your use of your hand-held devices, perhaps only check twice a day, or don’t take it on your walks or during family time. You’ll notice two things, just how habit-forming these devices can be, but also that you can be a calmer and more relaxed person…which is good for your heart.

12. Drink Responsibly

We know that alcohol has some benefits to heart health but only at a low level of consumption; according to the American Heart Association up to two drinks daily for men and one for women. Excessive alcohol consumption can instead damage your cardiovascular system and increase your risk of high blood pressure, stroke and obesity. Be responsible about it and you’ll have a safer, more relaxed and heart healthy holiday.

About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or