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Published First 12/12/2017

3 Simple Steps For a
Happy & Healthy Holiday Season

By; Dr. Ashraf Girgis N.D. 

Sometimes the holiday season can be more of a stressful than joyful occasion. I have written articles and given many talks on the topic. This feeling of stress is more likely among those of us who like to stay on routine. Those of us that do not appreciate too many gatherings of families and friends.


Heart Issues

This is not because we don’t love them, but because we like our peaceful, established routines. All you do is eat and eat and gain weight, while your exercise routine goes out the window, and catching up with family can sometimes be a pain in the derriere and taxing to the mind. But, does it have to be that way? After all, it is important to remember this is a joyful occasion.

 So, what can be done to make it more of a happy occasion than a stressful one? The three following things become very important, and I will go into detail about each.

 1. Maintaining an exercise routine

2. Eating healthy food 

3. Maintaining a healthy state of mind



1.     Create a flexible exercise routine

a.     Play with the kids in the backyard (even if there is snow). Playing with kids not only allows you to bond with them and bring you closer, but it also is great exercise!

b.    Another way is to go shopping (grocery or otherwise) or window-shopping. During the holidays, streets are often decorated with ornaments and lights, making evening walks very enjoyable. Or, simply walk or run around the neighborhood or volunteer to walk their dog.

c.     If it is not too late, call and see if there are gyms that you or your family belong to where you are traveling, so you can keep your routine while on the road. Of course, almost all hotels have a gym. But, if you are staying at your relative’s home, especially older ones, there might not be that kind of accommodation.


Exercising is important, and a few days of eating fatty and sugary food without exercise can tax your body, especially if you are eating or sitting all the time. One should not eliminate the routine just because of vacationing. Simply modify it and make it fit to your new situation! Another excellent suggestion is to help the host by doing the dishes or cleaning, therefore moving all the time. If your family doesn’t mind, crank up the music and dance.

Whatever the activity, as long as you move, it is good for you. Sometimes counting your steps, either with a simple device or fancy watch, can help you to stay aware of your activities. It is important to remember to move, but in a way that does not make you look restless. Try the above suggestions that will bring the family together and make nice memories.




2.     Watch what you are eating

During the holidays, there is an increased amount of eating out or overeating, causing many of us to gain a few pounds here and there. Especially for some of us at an older age, losing those few pounds does not come easy or fast. I remember I gained 10 pounds during my last trip to China (my own fault for over eating delicious authentic Chinese food); I have been struggling since to lose all of it.

 a.    Try to drink lots of water before each meal.  Keep your eco friendly water bottle close to you at all times. It is amazing how sips of water here and there can keep you full and be beneficial for your health (as long as it is a clean and toxin free water).

b.     If you are eating at a relative’s home and you do not see too many healthy options, volunteer to make a salad or steamed vegetables, or offer to buy a few healthy items, such as vegetable tray with low calorie vegetable dip. Of course, do it in a way that does not offend your host.

c. Or if you are invited somewhere, take a healthy dish with you, or eat before you go and simply and politely nibble at the food offered.

d.    If you are eating at a restaurant, try to choose healthy items such as salads or fish and ask for steamed vegetables.




3. Keep your Mind healthy,


One cannot separate mental and emotional health from physical health. That is something we need to pay attention during the holidays. Especially if we are spending a few days with family that we might not necessarily see eye to eye with. There are some useful articles on the stress management section of our website that I suggest you read. Also, my article on how to manage your stress during the holidays provides you with some useful tips. Here are some other suggestions:



a.    If you are not getting along well with all members of your family, try to avoid or stay out of topics that are not pleasant for you and others.

b.    Try to organize group games to keep minimize discussions, go play with the kids, or help in the kitchen.

c.    Be assertive. People can’t read your mind, so feel comfortable to express yourself as long as it is done in a non-emotional and non-combative way. Respect others and do not go over the boundary.


d.    Be responsible and creative about entertaining yourself as long as conditions are ripe for it. For example, when we gather with our family at my father-in-law’s, everyone ends up watching sports. So, I try to catch up with my own fiction or poetry reading on my Kindle, or I get books from the library to take with me, books that I ordinarily have no time to read. Or, I play chess games or cards with my father-in-law. Creativity is important as long as we are conscious of being together and spend time together. There are many things you can come up with to be creative as long as you can think about it ahead of time and plan it.

e.    Do deep breathing exercises; you can do it outside during your walk. Also try to do your meditation or your prayer routines, since these can be done any time, even while sitting with others. The best meditative routine is to be mindful and present, “Here and Now”, in all your interactions. Not only will it help you to enjoy things that you might have otherwise missed, but it will help keep you connected to others. Make sure to sign up for my seminar about the science of meditation if you are interested to learn about mindful meditation. It is important to use all your senses while being mindful.

Friends Playing Foosball


a.     It is very important that one has some time alone, even five to ten minutes at a time. This helps you to refresh and rejuvenate your mind and body. I jokingly tell people at my seminars that even if the place is small with no privacy, go to the bathroom and stay for 5 minutes at a time (make sure you have fresh air). Take a magazine or a book with you to read. Of course, let everyone know, so they don’t have to wait for you if they need to use the bathroom.

b.    Sleep is also significant during the holidays. It is one of those things that tends to fall on the short side, making us more jittery and short tempered if it continues for a few days. So try to take short naps during the day to make up for reduced sleep at night.

Overall, don’t try to overlook any health issues just because it is the holidays. I have emphasized the reasons in my article about managing stress during holidays. Taking your medications or vitamins is important. If there are any symptoms of sickness for you or your loved ones, call your doctor or consult with a health practitioner. Stay safe and enjoy the holidays!

Holidays are beautiful, regardless of if you spend it alone or at home, or whether you are Christian believing that Jesus is Son of God or a Muslim believing Jesus is one of God's messenger. They are beautiful for anyone, regardless of religion; it is a good occasion to celebrate a man who stood up for peace and love above everything else.

Happy holidays, may peace be upon all in this season and beyond. Thanks for visiting To make an appointment with me or sign up for my talks please feel call our office.


Happy holidays!
Ashraf Girgis N.D.


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