Have a happy, healthy holiday season

December 22, 2016

By Sheryl Smolkin

The December holiday season is much anticipated by all as a glimmer of light and warmth at the darkest, coldest time of the year. It can also be exhausting, mentally challenging and play havoc with healthy habits like exercising and eating properly you have so carefully cultivated throughout the year.

Flu shot

The first thing you can do to promote your family’s health in anticipation of all the mixing and mingling is to arrange for everyone to get a flu shot. The flu vaccine is free and offered to Saskatchewan residents who are six months and older.

For detailed information about flu clinic locations, dates and times:

For a list of pharmacies that offer the flu shot, check the Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan website.

Safe driving

Also, driving can be particularly challenging in unpredictable Canadian weather. Stay safe by getting a tune-up and having your snow tires installed sooner, rather than later. Make sure all passenger seat belts are fastened and never, ever drink and drive. If you do plan to partake of alcoholic beverages, make sure you have a designated driver in your group, plus money or a credit card for a taxi.


With days and nights that are chock full of activities, it’s often almost impossible to fit in regular exercise. If you are visiting out-of town relatives and planning to stay in a hotel, before you book a room, check the website to see if the accommodations you are considering has a gym or swimming pool. Early in the day or after the kids are asleep, you and your partner can take turns using the facilities.

In the event that you are bunking in with friends or family, check the holiday hours at local gyms and invest in a guest pass. Then if all else fails, be as active as possible. Explore the neighbourhood by walking your own or your host’s dog several times a day. After the first snowfall, ski, skate, make a snow fort or toboggan with your kids.

Managing stress

In addition, do whatever else it takes to minimize stress. For example:

  • Don’t be afraid to say no or cancel if one more events during Christmas week will put you over the edge.
  • Suggest that family members pick names so you have to shop for fewer gifts and can put more thought into each item you buy.
  • Shop online, particularly if you are sending gifts to people out of town. Companies like Amazon and Chapters deliver and for a few extra dollars they will wrap your present and enclose a card.
  • Try to maintain a normal bedtime routine for young children to minimize meltdowns. Make sure they have lots of opportunities for active play with children of similar ages.
  • Let it go. Your brother-in-law may tell the same stories on every holiday and your mother-in-law may constantly question your parenting skills. But if you take a deep breath and remember it will all be over soon for another year, you may be able to avoid a serious family rift that takes a much longer time to heal.

Careful eating

Last but not least, think about what you eat. No I don’t mean you should completely forgo shortbread, chocolate, pie or eggnog. Try to taste, instead of finishing everything put in front of you. Eat one butter tart instead of two. Start with veggies and dip when you first arrive at a party to take the edge off your hunger. Pass up seconds on turkey and stuffing, Drink soda instead of high calorie pop or punch.

Besides, someone once told me there are no calories if you didn’t make or order the food and if you break a cookie in half all the calories will leak out. And even if I got it wrong, January is right around the corner. It’s a much better month to start a diet or a brand new fitness program. After all, fitness clubs depend on “resolutionists” like me to stay in business!


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