It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. But just when you want to look and feel your holiday best, a confluence of unfavorable factors can leave you looking and feeling less than ready to celebrate the season. We’re talking about shorter days, dry indoor conditions, sleep deprivation, endless to do lists, an explosion of family and social commitments and…(it goes without saying, but we will anyway) some serious STRESS. Let’s face it. The holidays are rife with conditions that can steal your joy if you let them.
Here are a few tips for dodging these seasonal setbacks and turning your holiday look from tired to terrific.
The holidays can mean an endless parade of cookies, pies, special drinks, and traditional desserts. Some simple dietary choices can help you stave off those extra pounds without starving yourself or requiring that you entirely skip your favorite seasonal treats.
If there is a holiday party on your schedule, cut back on your daily calorie consumption during the prior week and have a light breakfast and lunch on the day of the event. Don’t forget to watch out for the cumulative effect of finger foods. Little bites can add up quickly over the course of a party. Keep portion sizes small when serving your party plate. Every calorie saved will be worth it when you treat yourself to a decadent, but “reasonably sized” dessert.
Avoid drinking your calories – sugary sodas, sweet tea, alcoholic beverages and especially creamy eggnog are packed with excessive calories and carbs, too. Be sure to get in some exercise every day, even if it’s just a 30-minute walk. Not only will it help you burn any excess calories, but it also will help relieve holiday stress and you may sleep better as well.
Holiday travel, marathon days of shopping and decorating, parties and special events, can put the squeeze on your ZZZZs. Too many late nights and early rises can leave you with dark circles, bags under your eyes, and a dull complexion. And it’s not just a problem during the holidays. Over a period of time, the lack of sleep can actually speed the signs of aging.
Make sleep a real priority. You’ll not only look better, but you will also be less irritable, have better concentration, more energy, maintain a stronger immune system and will be less likely to gain weight.
As chilly weather brings you inside to dry, heated air, your skin is the first to suffer. Perk up your winter skin by using a daily exfoliator to scruff off dead skin cells. Invest in an age-defying color corrector for a more even skin tone, and try a tinted moisturizer with SPF. Add a pop of much-needed color with a rosy-pink cream blush that stays on longer and gives a more youthful look than powder blushes.
Dry skin woes don’t end at your cheek line. Get your glow back by sloughing off dry patches wherever they occur using the exfoliating cleanser you use on your face to scrub problem spots on your body – knees, elbows, feet, etc. Follow up with a long-lasting rich body cream or lotion, and an antioxidant-packed moisturizer for your face, neck and hands. Keep a travel size bottle of moisturizer handy for reinforcements on the go.
It’s a constant battle – frizz in the summer, and static in the winter. It’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out. To get holiday-ready start by using a shampoo that doesn’t strip out your hair’s natural oils, deep-condition weekly or monthly, and/or sweep a glossing cream onto dry strands to bring back the shine. TIP: Excessively dry indoor air in your home can contribute to dry “static-y” hair. Consider buying a humidifier if your in-home environment is overly dry.
Even if you’re mostly an online shopper, it’s hard to avoid spending lots of time on your feet during the holiday season. Whether you’re shopping, cooking or party-going, the wrong footwear, no matter how fashionable, can cause painful swelling, blisters, and calluses.
Pamper your aching feet by soaking them in warm water with a soothing moisturizing wash. Dry feet thoroughly and massage your feet while applying a soothing lotion.
Relax sore muscles by placing a tennis ball under your feet and rolling back and forth from toes to heels.
When clocks “fall” back ending daylight saving time, the days get shorter and shorter. But this is no time to put away the sunblock. Even though UVB rays – the ones that cause sunburns – are less intense, harmful UVA rays are the same year-round. UVA damage can result in skin cancer and premature aging, so use sunscreen under makeup or choose a foundation with SPF.
These suddenly shorter days can also mess around with your body clock – or circadian rhythm. Your body relies on the cyclical nature of the day, making you feel sleepy when it is dark and awake when it is light. Disrupting your routine, even for an hour or so, can leave you feeling out-of-whack, a bit like jetlag. Try to spend more time outdoors during daylight hours and make an extra effort to get a good night’s sleep.
If you’re concerned about your vitamin D intake when the days grow shorter, there are other ways to get vitamin D besides sunlight. Low calorie dairy products are one great way.
Low humidity and chilly breezes can cause chapped, cracked lips. Even minimal time outdoors can quickly cause parched and painfully dry lips.
As with skin anywhere else, lips need moisture too. Restore your pretty pout by hydrating with a moisturizing lip balm. Add some perk to your pucker by choosing one with a slight tint, or shine.
Unfortunately holidays can bring on added stress. Money troubles, pressure to host or attend parties, and cooking a meal for a large crowd are only some of the reasons you may feel stressed out this time of year. Maintaining healthy habits can help you manage your seasonal stress. Eat healthy, get regular exercise, get plenty of sleep, don’t overindulge in alcohol, keep your holiday expectations realistic and don’t overcommit to work, family and social activities.
Keep the joy in the season. Take time to actually enjoy the holidays, accept that your plans probably won’t go off without a hitch and remember the real reason you celebrate the season. If slowing down doesn’t come naturally for you, schedule some down time. Relax by the fire, get a massage, and let someone else cook for a change. Basically, give yourself a break, unplug and unwind and watch your stress melt away.