Advertisement

Seven Holiday Self-Care Behaviors to Try Now

Text Size:
Seven Holiday Self-Care Behaviors to Try Now

The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy and merriment, and while it is for many people, others may find that the holidays bring challenges and stress. Managing a chronic condition such as diabetes may dampen your spirits and take the fun and meaning out of the holiday season. Sweet treats, alcohol, lack of sleep, and stress can lead to higher blood sugars.

A recent survey from the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association, called the Know Diabetes by Heart Survey, found that “almost half of people living with type 2 diabetes said that managing diabetes during the fall and winter holiday season is more difficult than other times of the year.” Managing food choices during a holiday week was especially challenging, the survey showed, compared to a normal week.

Advertisement

Practicing self-care may seem hard, but it’s important during this holiday time, and every time of the year, too. Try these tips to help you navigate this the season so that you can enjoy gatherings while still staying on track with your diabetes.

To get cutting-edge diabetes news, strategies for blood glucose management, nutrition tips, healthy recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletters!

Start the day off right.

Anticipating a holiday dinner or a cookie swap may tempt you into skipping breakfast — but head off that temptation! Doing so can make it more likely that you’ll overeat later in the day, which means ending up with higher blood sugars.

Tip

Kick off your day with a balanced meal that includes protein. Try a hard-boiled egg on a piece of whole-grain toast. Top with some avocado slices.

Make time to move.

Physical activity is one of the best ways to beat stress, steady your blood sugars, and help you burn calories — all at the same time. Carve out time in your day to go for a walk, do some video exercises, or jump on the exercise bike.

Tip

Use a fitness tracker or smartphone app to track your progress. Set goals for yourself, such as aiming for 10,000 steps a day.

Build in balance.

When it comes to food, aim for balance. This means including a protein, carb, and fat source at your meals (veggies are an added bonus!). It’s tempting to load up on mashed potatoes and stuffing, but make a point to include some kind of protein food (think meat, poultry, fish, tofu) as well as a healthy fat food (such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, or avocado).

Tip

Fill your plate with noncarb foods first so that you don’t overdo the carbs.

Swap out the carbs.

Speaking of carbs, remember that you don’t need to cut them out or deny yourself a favorite treat. Try to plan ahead, and if you would like a slice of pie, fruitcake, or holiday cookie (or two), cut back on the carb at your meal to fit in that sweet treat.

Tip

If you take mealtime (fast-acting) insulin, talk with your provider or diabetes educator about adjusting your insulin dose for those small indulgences.

Ease up on holiday libations.

Go ahead and toast in the New Year but try not to use holiday time as a reason to go overboard with alcohol. Besides containing calories, alcohol can increase the risk of low blood sugars hours later if you take insulin or diabetes pills called sulfonylureas. Also, some festive drinks are loaded with sugar, adding in extra carbs. One or two alcoholic drinks are generally safe for most people with diabetes (talk with your provider first).

Tip

Stick with wine, sparkling wine, or light beer rather than fruity cocktails or drinks sweetened with regular soda.

Make time for sleep.

Whether you’re waiting up for Santa, wrapping gifts, or cleaning your house for guests, sleep is often the first thing to go when it comes to holidays. However, sleep is one of the most important — and essential — self-care behaviors to make time for. A lack of sleep makes it harder to manage your diabetes, can set you up for heart disease and other health issues, and can turn you into a Scrooge.

Tip

Stick with your regular sleep schedule as much as possible. Not doable? Make room for a nap, but don’t sleep more than 30 minutes and not later than 3 p.m.

Find ways to de-stress.

Stress and holidays seem to go hand in hand. Coping with stress can be exhausting, as can the forced cheerfulness you have to constantly muster up. Making time for yourself is key, as is resetting expectations. Maybe you don’t do everything that you usually do every year: it’s OK for traditions to change, and it’s OK to say no or at least cut back.

Tip

Loneliness, sadness, and depression can cause stress. Being good to yourself, eating well, being active, and reaching out to others can help. Some people find that keeping a gratitude journal is helpful for reducing stress and focusing on the positive. Interested in learning more? Visit Verywell Mind to find out how to maintain a gratitude journal.

Want to learn about more steps for self-care? Read “Take Five for Better Health” and “‘Tis the Gift to Be Simple: Steps for Self-Care.”

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES on social media

A Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at Good Measures, LLC, where she is a CDE manager for a virtual diabetes program. Campbell is the author of Staying Healthy with Diabetes: Nutrition & Meal Planning, a co-author of 16 Myths of a Diabetic Diet, and has written for  publications including Diabetes Self-Management, Diabetes Spectrum, Clinical Diabetes, the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation’s newsletter, DiabeticConnect.com, and CDiabetes.com

Get Diabetes-Friendly Recipes In Your Inbox

Sign up for Free

Stay Up To Date On News & Advice For Diabetes

Sign up for Free

Get On Track With Daily Lifestyle Tips

Sign up for Free

Save Your Favorites

Save This Article