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Blog: How to have a happy, healthy Christmas

Christmas decorations

12 December 2023

Self care during the festive season can be challenging. All the indulgent food and drink everywhere you look can make it tough to take care of yourself. But there are some simple steps you can take to support better health and happiness this December.

Food and drink

Surprisingly, many traditional festive foods can be healthy.  For instance Brussel sprouts and turkey are great source of protein and vitamins.  For non-meat eaters a nut-roast can be a nutritious centrepiece for Christmas dinner.  On the BBC website you will find healthy Christmas recipes.

If you aren’t expecting many, or any, guests over the Christmas period, it can be hard to find motivation to cook.  For some festive ready meals might offer a solution, but while the occasional ready meal is fine, frequently eating highly-processed foods may, over time, be risking your happiness and health, an issue highlighted recently by TV health communicator Dr Chris van Tulleken.  Try to include more fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds in your regular shop, and check out the simple, tasty and healthy recipes on the website of our sister charity Age UK.  Age Scotland also has free advice guides on eating well and staying hydrated.

If the cost of fresh, healthy food is a worry, call the Age Scotland Helpline on 0800 12 44 222 and ask for a Benefits Check, to ensure you are claiming all the financial support you are entitled to, and advice on cutting home energy bills.

Getting out and being active

With short days, cold weather, and often slippery pavements, getting out and being physically active becomes more difficult at this time of year.  But the benefits of staying physically active are immense, including a stronger immune system and better mental wellbeing.  Online you can find lots of free exercise videos suitable for older people, including Age Scotland’s Around The House in 80 Days series on YouTube.  Or you can start a regular habit of playing music that’s fun to dance to and having a boogie at home.

If you can, get outside in daylight to top up your vitamin D levels (a supplement is also recommended in winter) and to enjoy the many other health and wellbeing benefits that come from being active outdoors, especially in a natural setting.  If safety concerns are a barrier to outdoor walking for you, joining a regular local health walk may be the answer as these are inclusive and social, and the routes are safety assessed. Visit the Paths for All website to find out about health walks near you.

Friends and family

Being social with friendly and caring people is one of the best things you can do for health and wellbeing, so if possible make it a priority.  However at festive social gatherings it can be easy to overindulge in alcohol, so if you are a drinker you may find NHS Inform’s tips for taking control over your drinking helpful.

Of course, not everyone has regular opportunity to enjoy positive social contact.  If you would welcome a friendly chat over the festive holiday the Age Scotland Helpline, 0800 12 44 222, is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, excepting Christmas Day, New Years’ Day, and closes at 2pm on Friday 22nd December.  You can also ask about local social and activities opportunities that would suit and be of interest to you, so that you can look forward to expanding your social circle in the New Year.

Looking forward to 2024

And for the New Year, why not order Age Scotland’s free calendar.  This combines lovely nature themed artwork with helpful advice for anyone in Scotland aged 50 plus, including tips for looking after your health and wellbeing. You can request the calendar from the Age Scotland website.