When the end-of-year craziness hits, it’s tempting to press pause on your healthy habits and wait until the New Year to restart them. But, honestly, you should do just the opposite. This hectic time requires your body to function at its best, which means self-care should move to the top of your list.
Given all you have on your plate in terms of work, travel, family obligations, and a host of other potential stressors, that may seem difficult. But with a few convenient recovery, nutrition, and time management strategies, finishing the year strong is totally doable. Below, health and wellness experts offer simple self-care solutions for different profiles—from the overworked employee to the 24/7 athlete—to help you enjoy the holiday season and prime your mind and body for the best new year yet.
For the Fitness Enthusiast: Gatorade Recovery Gummies
If you’re determined to fit your workouts in through all the late-year madness, you’ll need to prioritize recovery. “Many athletes use tart cherry after exercising to support recovery,” says Patricia Kolesa, MS, RDN, a New Jersey-based dietitian. Studies involving both strength training and endurance exercise have shown that tart cherry supplements can aid in aspects of muscle recovery. One of the most efficient ways to get the good stuff may be Gatorade Recovery Gummies, available exclusively at Gatorade.com. Developed in partnership with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI), a single two-gummy serving of Gatorade Recovery Gummies contains 480 milligrams of tart cherry powder, is vegetarian and gluten-free, and comes in cherry flavor.
For the 24/7 Athlete: Gatorade Immune Support Gummies
Whether you’re a competitive or recreational athlete, you’ll need to support your immune system to sustain your training routine and promote overall well-being. Gatorade Immune Support Gummies are packed with vitamins C and D, zinc, and selenium to help support a healthy immune system. These new gummies are vegetarian and gluten-free and are available in citrus flavor.
“Some studies show that supplementing with vitamins can be helpful to your immune system because your intake of certain nutrients differs on a daily basis, which means you may not get the recommended amount of each one,” explains Kolesa. A supplement like Gatorade Immune Support Gummies—which, along with Gatorade Recovery Gummies, are available exclusively at Gatorade.com—can help make up for these gaps.
For the Overworked Employee: Foam Rolling or Yoga
Whether you hunch over a desk job wrapping up a busy fourth quarter or are on your feet all day working retail during the holiday rush, if you’re putting in long hours at the job, you’re probably experiencing tight, aching muscles and fascia. This can stem from numerous issues, but two common culprits are intense exercise and chronic stress.
Fascia, a web of connective tissue that surrounds and supports your muscles, consists of multiple layers that have a gel-like lubricant between them, allowing the layers to move and glide smoothly. When you’re inflamed, those layers of muscle and fascia stick to each other. “That means they don’t glide as smoothly, which is primarily what causes stiff, tight muscles associated with stress and exercise,” says Grant Radermacher, DC, a sports chiropractor and owner of Ascent Chiropractic in Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Enter foam rolling and yoga, both of which are effective for loosening up tight muscles. When you use a foam roller, you’re applying pressure to a muscle much like you would squeeze a sponge. “Just as a sponge under running water soaks it up when you release the squeeze, your fascia and underlying muscle are relaxed when you remove the compression of the roller,” Radermacher says. He notes that rolling shouldn’t be painful; on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the worst, your discomfort level should never rank higher than a six. Avoid rolling over bony or injured areas and aim for two to three sets lasting 90 seconds per muscle group.
Yoga can help reverse muscle tightness, especially if it’s caused by prolonged sitting. Radermacher recommends focusing on gentle poses that target the hamstrings, hip flexors, and lower back muscles, such as child’s pose, supine figure 4 stretch, runner’s lunge, and seated twist.
For the People Pleaser: A Daily Self-Care Menu
Cooking holiday meals, buying everyone’s presents, attending every single party, recital, or end-of-the-year observance—if you tend to put everybody else’s needs before your own, grab a pen and paper. Write down four or five health-promoting activities you’d like to accomplish on a regular basis, like meditating, doing a cardio workout, or going to bed earlier than normal—that’s your self-care menu. Next to each activity, list two or three short durations to choose from. With meditation you might list two, five, and 15 minutes; for going to bed, it might be 10, 20, and 30 minutes earlier than your normal time. When it comes time to do one of the activities, select whichever duration you can carve out space for that day.
By breaking the activities into bite-sized pieces and giving yourself multiple timing options, it will be easier to fit these practices into your schedule and avoid falling into the all-or-nothing trap, says Kolesa. Post the list somewhere you can see it, even on sticky notes, and each morning choose one or two activities with correlating durations to do that day.
As simple as it sounds, creating a menu will help you realistically maintain a healthy lifestyle during even the busiest time of year. “This tool helps you take a more flexible approach to self-care so that when your plans get thrown off you have other options,” says Michelle Segar, PhD, a Michigan-based health coach and author of The Joy Choice.