Holiday tips, tricks and hacks

Dr. Maria Del Mar Rodriguez


Most of us can feel a little bit overwhelmed during this season. Perhaps, you are traveling to see your family, or hosting parties. But have you thought about your health? As a Naturopathic physician, I am committed to educating whole families about self-care, prevention and natural medicine. You may think, how can I stay healthy during the holidays? Well, here I share with you few simple tips that may help you and your family to keep you strong, joyful and ready to celebrate.

1. Sleep well

Although many friends and families are coming together to have parties and share their time together, we as humans have essential needs, and these include to sleep well. Sometimes we forget to sleep when we need to, or when our actual body is asking to. For that reason, fatigue has become one of the most common chief complaints in clinics, and coffee is the most “go to” beverage for people to have a boost of energy levels they need. Research has shown that when you do not sleep properly, it can interfere with hormones like cortisol, which is associated with high risk of metabolic disorders and weight gain. The best you can do is to catch up your Zzzz!

2. Put your electronics down

Schedule time during the day to turn off or disconnect from your cell phone. Once you give yourself a break from distractions, including of what others are doing or not. It is refreshing because you can actually have the great opportunity to be present and enjoy your time with real people. We are too consumed by social media, television and electronics which sometimes make us forget how to have a real connection with another human being—acknowledge them and talk to them. It is important to understand that we are on Earth for a limited time and we must enjoy every minute fully, especially if you are surrounded by special people who love you unconditionally.

3. Connect with nature

Go for a walk outdoors, hike a mountain, go camping, go to the beach, hug a tree, contemplate landscapes or a natural water source. I invite you to connect with any kind of nature element by your own or with a friend or family member who can join you. You can plan an adventure under the skies and become a nature enthusiast during these holidays, it will be unforgettable. The levels of vitamin D are usually lower in many people due to the winter season and having less exposure to the sun. Thus, these and many more activities in nature may be beneficial for your mood, energy and immunity.

4. Stay hydrated

It is important for all of us to drink appropriate amounts of water. Sometimes we think we are hungry, and then grab a quick snack instead of water, but we could have been dehydrated. Signs of dehydration may include fatigue, dry skin and lips. Drinking water can help your digestion, brain function and make you feel fantastic. Get a personal bottle, preferably a glass container, easy and safe to carry around. Try to avoid plastic bottles which can have harmful chemicals for your body and for the planet. Drink more water, you will feel great!

5. Nourish your body

Feed your body with nourishing food, full of the nutrients you need. Try to avoid packed and processed foods. Increasing the intake of whole fresh vegetables and fruits are highly recommended to keep your energy and immune system strong. Eat according to the season, consume the produce that mother nature has provided us and select organic to avoid the exposure of chemicals like pesticides. I encourage you to visit the Environmental Working Group webpage which has complete guides of the produce you should avoid in order to prevent consumption of harmful chemicals. The Environmental Working Group website will provide additional educational resources. Plan your meals and enjoy the kitchen. You can also prepare delicious soups, hearty stews and make juices for breakfast, with a balanced content of organic veggies and fruits to have your cells happily nourished!

6. Manage your stress

Perhaps you are caught up in the stores finding gifts, flying out of state, out of the country, or partying like a “rockstar”. It is necessary that you manage your stress and take the time to recharge. Engage in a relaxing activity for at least 15 minutes every day. This could be a combination of mindful breathing, physical exercise, or relaxing practices. For example, stretch your body or do yoga, a simple guided meditation, or soak in a warm bath. All of these practices have been shown to be beneficial to reduce stress levels and establish the appropriate connection between your mind and your body. It doesn’t have to be too complicated, just set a time aside from the busyness and connect with yourself, in silence and relaxation. You may have more clarity and feel better, because once you take care of yourself, you can take care of others much better. Self-care should be your number one priority.

7. Be aware of your whole health state

Starting in the new year, the best resolution you can have is to take care of yourself, and that means every component of you, physical, mental, emotional and spiritually. This could be a reflective time for you to see if any aspect of you needs support. Maybe you have been avoiding to get a general check-up, or you have been avoiding to schedule an appointment with the dentist. Keep in mind that the best healthcare you can have is prevention. It is good for you to have regular wellness exams including physical exams, laboratory tests and receive appropriate preventive care. If you are interested in receiving care from a qualified healthcare provider, like a naturopathic doctor, you may find the right one near you according to your needs. A naturopathic doctor is clinically trained to guide you towards your path to wellness, using a more holistic approach.

Remember, the holidays can be a reminder for all of us to enjoy ourselves and be happy. It is your decision to make conscious efforts and take the next right steps to become more mindful of your whole health state. So, during this season, and all year long, be committed to staying healthy and joyful. You can do it.

Happy & healthy holidays!

Dr. Maria Del Mar Rodriguez is a licensed Naturopathic physician and a proud member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) and the Puerto Rico Association of Naturopathic Physicians (PRANP). Her commitment and passion is to motivate individuals and communities globally to be conscious of their health through personalized, compassionate and integrative care. She graduated from the accredited medical school, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Arizona, after completing her Bachelor’s degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Puerto Rico. She has broad experience in public health and clinical research, and combines modern science and naturopathic modalities, considering the person as a whole and unique individual, understanding underlying causes of disease. She has offered naturopathic medical care to diverse, including underserved families, in Mexico, Arizona, Texas and Puerto Rico.

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