TriStar Skyline Madison Campus December 20, 2016

The truth about holiday health

The holidays often come with an overwhelming tide of stories trying to help you "stay healthy over the holidays.” In fact, we may have even published one or two of these ourselves! If you’re just as tired as we are of making your chief concern at a part avoiding the baked Brie, then read on.

Top 4 things to remember this season

Stop stressing. Staying healthy without obsessing about it is actually much easier than you think when you realize just how good for you the holidays can be. Emphasize these four things this holiday season and you won’t have to choose between celebrating and health after all:

1. Spending time with loved ones adds years to your life. Statistics show that having close connections with people and engaging with them regularly can add almost two years to your life; it can also lower your risk of heart disease and cancer. Think of the holidays as a time to see the people who brighten your life – rather than a series of diet-killing party obstacles –- and you’ll come away with healthier heart and soul.

2. When you were six, did you count calories? What’s a calorie? No! You were too busy running and playing and climbing trees to worry about it. Use the holidays as a time to let out your inner child – whether it’s playing with your own children (or relatives’ kids) when they’re on vacation – or just getting out and doing something you love. Extra bonus? You may eat fewer calories later. Studies indicate that people who think they are exercising for fun, not work, eat fewer sweets.

3. Allow yourself to indulge. Avoiding foods? Skipping meals to save calories for later? Both lead to eating more calories overall than you would have in the first place, meaning that not only are you miserable, but also less healthy. Allow yourself a cheat meal (or cheat party) here or there, where you leave the food police at home, and you’ll find that staying on track the rest of the time is more doable.

4. Sing (or dance) along to your favorite holiday tunes. It doesn’t matter if it’s in your local choir, caroling with friends, or in your car – singing lowers levels of anxiety and depression, dancing extends your life and may even reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Whether you’re a little more Napoleon Dynamite or a little more Flashdance, dance to the beat of your own drum.

Hanging out with friends, playing, indulging, dancing – who knew it was healthy? Focus on those things and you can have a memorable holiday season that’s good for your heart.

Happy holidays to you and your loved ones!

This content originally appeared on Sharecare.com.