5 Tips for Healthy (Happy) Holidays
by Lauryn Axelrod, Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Counselor
Holidays can be stressful times for parents and students. After a long, hard semester, your student may come home tired, ill, and needing the comfort of home. As easy as it is to fill your student's holiday with visits, activities, and celebrations, the best thing you can do is encourage him or her to rest, relax and rejuvenate.
Here are 5 tips to help your student have the healthiest and happiest holiday this season:
- Encourage your student to rest. As exciting as it may be for your student to see family and friends (and for you to see him or her), it's important that students get plenty of rest. Your student will likely come home with a “sleep debt” that requires repayment. That means lots of time for sleep and unstructured activity. Try to understand if your student wants to sleep late and encourage him or her to make rest a priority. Massages, long baths and other self-care activities make great holiday gifts!
- Encourage your student to eat healthily. Let's be honest: campus eating isn't always the healthiest, and holidays are filled with sweets and starches. Home is an opportunity to rejuvenate the body with healthy foods. Encourage your student to load up on vegetables and fruits, instead of pies and cookies. Have healthy snacks available for him or her, and experiment with healthy versions of holiday favorites. Eating healthily will help your student rejuvenate.
- Encourage your student to move daily. Many students are so busy when they come home for the holidays that they tend to let their exercise regime slip. That's o.k. (they can get back in the gym in January), but encourage them to move a little every day. Taking a walk together in the neighborhood, playing a game of tag football, or going for a hike will help them feel better and will keep their bodies happy.
- Encourage responsible drinking. The holidays are filled with clinking glasses and excess alcohol intake. If your student is of legal age, encourage him or her to be responsible while drinking. In addition to the hangovers, excess alcohol disrupts sleep patterns, encourages overeating, and can be dangerous to cardiac health. Help your student drink smart.
- Enjoy being with your student. You and your student have much to catch up on. Try to resist the temptation to play "20 Questions" with your student or nag him or her about responsibilities or issues. Instead, use the time together to reconnect. Get to know your student again. Your student has learned and grown over the past few months, and he or she would love to share it all with you in a relaxed way.
Supporting and encouraging your student to use the holidays to rest, relax and rejuvenate will help start the next semester off right.
Lauryn Axelrod, CHHC, is a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Counselor. She offers workshops and cooking classes on campus through the Recreation and Wellness Center, and sees students for private consultations through the Student Health Center.