Giving the Gift of Health

December is upon us and so is the end of 2020, a year no one will soon forget. For so many, December is a month rich with tradition, indulgence, and faith. As the world around us faces new challenges in its struggles with COVID-19, it might be difficult to envision what this holiday season will look like, let alone figure out how to make it special. It is also more important than ever to go into this season and the new year with a strategy for maintaining your health – both physical and mental. 

When I think of health, I often consider three different facets: prevention, treatment, and maintenance. It might not be possible to make enough dietary changes to prevent transmission of a virus such as a coronavirus, but you can both decrease risk of transmission by following the recommendations of public health and the local authority as well as keeping yourself as healthy as possible to hopefully improve your outcome if you do get sick. It is also critical to support your mental health as we enter a dark, uncertain winter. It’s easy to feel helpless when faced with an unknown such as this virus, but there is still a lot 
we can still do both for ourselves and our families that will improve our resiliency and allow us to get through this season with grace and most importantly, in good health. 

Here are five gifts of health to give to your family (or yourselves) this December:

Get Outside
Keeping your brain happy during the winter can be a challenge at the best of times. It’s cold, dark, and it can be difficult to get around. This year it is bound to be even more difficult as we go into one of the most social times of year and will likely be unable to spend time indoors with many of the people we love. Make a plan for the winter to get yourself outside (and ideally moving) as often as possible. Figure out what equipment you may need, get it however your can (used is great!) and just incorporate it into your schedule. Identify what your barriers are to outdoor activity and remove them in advance wherever you can. These activities will help to stave off depression, anxiety, insomnia, and will help with this feeling of never-ending cabin fever that many of us have. 

Meal Plan
It’s likely that we will continue to be able to get most of the foods we want/need throughout this month and season, but meal-planning in general can help to ensure that not only are you eating healthily for at least one or two meals a day, but you are also using what is in your fridge/pantry, easing some of your mealtime stress throughout the week, and teaching your little ones about budgeting, reducing food waste, food preparation, etc. There are countless resources for meal plans based on what your dietary requirements/restrictions might be and many include utilizing such tools as the Instant Pot (my personal favourite) or slow cooker. You can either prep using what you have on hand or reduce waste by only shopping for what you will use in the week. 

The Gift of Giving
No matter how difficult this year may have been, we all have something to give that will help someone else. Sit down with your family and make a plan for how you are going to give this December (and maybe turn it into something you can do monthly). Donate time, money, food – there are many ways to help someone in need, especially now when so many have fewer financial resources and can’t rely on the same people for help due to social restrictions. 

Holiday Traditions
Most of us will have a holiday to celebrate this month, whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, or even New Year’s Eve. So much about what makes Christmas special in my family started with traditions that my mom created for us, most of which we still do to this day. Doing the same thing