The holiday season can be an extremely stressful time of year. With work deadlines looming, a packed social events calendar and hosting responsibilities, it’s very easy to lose yourself in the chaos. Take small steps to keep up your health and lifestyle routines and remember you don’t have to take the ‘all-or-nothing’ approach as a little can go a long way when it comes to health. Here are my tips for maintaining your healthy habits over the holidays.

Rest Up

Sleep is fundamental for a healthy body and mind. The average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of restful sleep each night. According to one study, people who get 8 hours of sleep on a regular basis are less likely to catch a cold or flu. When you lose sleep your immune cells known as T cells reduce in number which can set you up for contracting upper respiratory illnesses. Depriving yourself of sleep can also lead to anxiousness, brain fog and weight gain over time. My recommendation is to turn the lights out at a reasonable hour; hopefully before 12 am. If you are attending multiple events during this time of year, it may be difficult to get to bed at your decent time each night, so rest up during the day and keep your regular sleep routine in place for the rest of the week.

Work in the Exercise

Keep exercise in your schedule even if it’s a little less than you are used to and if you haven’t been exercising, start now. Exercise is an effective mood booster. It can also help you balance stress and maintain a healthy weight. As a bonus, while you are getting your heart rate up, your respiration rate will also increase which may help eliminate bacteria from your respiratory tract, increase your body temperature and halt bacteria and virus growth. Take a walk around the block, park a little further from the mall entrance or wear a pedometer to track your daily steps. Tracking your steps with a pedometer is a simple strategy to help you maintain your activity levels. If you haven’t completed your goal by the end of the day, put on your favorite tune and dance around the house until you complete it.

Balance Your Time

Your time is valuable and if you have been invited to many social events, you may have to decline a few invites for your health and sanity. Take a good look at your calendar and pick the social events that have the most meaning to you. If not, you’ll end up becoming overbooked and placing unnecessary pressure and stress on yourself. As a result, what is supposed to be a joyous time of the year may end up feeling more like a long list of obligatory tasks leading to your eventual burn-out. No one wants to start the New Year on empty, therefore set your priorities and stick with it.

Balance Your Diet

While you are running around finishing up your Christmas shopping or preparing meals for your guests, you may forget it to eat. Well, this is your reminder! Eat meals at a regular frequency, at least every four hours and make protein a priority. Protein regulates blood sugar and insulin, and helps to curb sugar cravings. If it seems like an impossible task to get a solid meal in, snack on a smoothie or a low sugar protein bar to fill that hunger gap. Eat a high protein snack before you head out to the holiday party. This is my cardinal rule for healthy weight maintenance and weight loss for good reason. Firstly, you may not know what is going to be served at the party and secondly, you may not know when dinner is going to be served. By the time dinner is served you may be so starved that you end up overindulging.

This holiday season do what makes you happy but remember to create your own balance. Be mindful of your food choices and keep moving. Taking the moderate approach will ensure that you enjoy yourself while maintaining your healthy habits.

About the Author

Dr. Olivia Rose graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences and in 2006, she graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Rose is the director of Fertility Acupuncture Services, a mobile service that brings acupuncture to couples undergoing in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination at Toronto fertility clinics. Her special areas of interest include infertility; children and teen health; stress management; weight loss; heart disease; digestive and immune health; skin rejuvenation and pain management. She is a birth doula and has additional training in cosmetic acupuncture and needle-less therapies for skin rejuvenation and joint pain.

Dr. Rose is a sought-after lecturer for community organizations; a freelance writer and mentor to new graduates. She has been interviewed by various media outlets including Global Toronto’s, “The Morning Show”, “News at Noon” and “News Hour”. In her free time, she unplugs at the spa and she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, son and tea-cup Yorkie. For more information on Dr. Rose's practice and special events, please visit -