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Sautéed prawns flavoured with a light tomato Pernod cream

December is often thought to be the most stressful time of the year. Not only is it the season with the least amount of sunshine, but it’s a time of busy holiday schedules, of hosting family and friends, and indulging in rich foods and drinks. Money is often a large source of stress, as we shell out for gifts for loved ones.

My friends at the 21st Annual Wellness Show provided me with a few of their favourite tips to keep your health (and sanity) in check through this time of the year.

Incorporate physical activity into your holiday season. It can be easy to get sidetracked with party planning and the general busyness of the holidays. However, continuing to incorporate physical activity is important. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that adults aged 18 to 64 get 2.5 hours of physical activity a week, with a focus on moderate physical aerobic activity.

Dumbell press on incline bench
[Photo credit: Fitness With Jeff Atlanta on Flickr]

In addition, adding weight-bearing exercises two days a week is recommended. Don’t forget that playing and running around with the little ones after that big holiday dinner counts towards the weekly total.

One tip for reducing stress during the holiday season is to make sure you’re not overcommitting to holiday plans nor overspending on holiday gifts. It’s also important to get sufficient sleep. When you feel that stress is building up, pause, breathe deeply, and exhale slowly.

handful of almonds
[Photo credit: Bethany L. Firem on Flickr]

Eat a low-calorie, high-protein snack before you go to a party (such as nut butter on crackers or a handful of almonds). You’ll be less tempted to dive into the high-fat, high-calorie appetizers or desserts. Don’t deprive yourself of your favourite holiday treats, but remember: everything in moderation.

Use extra nourishing and hydrating cleansers and creams during the colder months to keep your skin soft and healthy. We lose a lot more moisture in these dryer, winter months. Vivify your body and skin with a nourishing oil self-massage. Oils such as sesame, avocado, and safflower are excellent for both increasing circulation and replenishing the skin. Get ready for the holidays by applying a warming oil daily to combat winter.

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Eating healthy doesn’t mean giving up your family’s favourite recipes. Swap out ingredients that don’t contribute to your health for nutritious ingredients that leave you feeling satisfied. Take a look at an old recipe and ask yourself, “what can I take out and what can I add to make this healthier”?

The 21st Annual Wellness Show will take place from February 15 to 17, 2013 at the Vancouver Convention Centre East (East Building Exhibit Hall B & C), 999 Canada Place.

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