Keep Your Cool this Yule
Heather’s Top Tips for A Healthy Holiday Season

Posted on March 5, 2024

It’s a time of celebration! The most wonderful time of the year, so the song goes. But it’s also when stress levels can explode, leading to illness and/or emotional issues.

Psychologists from Coventry University in the UK have identified the majority of us suffer from stress at Christmas, but ignore it in our quest to create the ‘perfect’ Christmas for family and friends.

We all know how this happens. Throw in travel, the resulting tiredness, lack of exercise and overindulgence in alcohol, food, and socialising (sometimes with family conflict thrown in) and levels of stress increase. Our immune systems can break down, leaving us susceptible to colds and flu, or, of course, the dreaded Covid-19.

But there are very simple ways to stay well, strong and mentally upbeat, and still partake in all the fun with friends and family.

Here, Flex Director Heather Thomas offers her top tips to not only survive, but thrive before, during and after the festivities:


It might seem obvious, but all the socializing around the holidays (saltier foods and alcohol), drier weather, and air travel, can make our bodies become extremely de-hydrated.

My top tip during flights is to abstain from drinking alcohol (speeds up dehydration) and keep food consumption to a minimum.  I even bring my own herbal tea bags on long-haul flights to keep me going, as only drinking water can get extremely boring over the duration.

Upon arrival at a party, try starting with sparkling water instead of a glass of bubbly, and alternate your glasses of water and wine. It makes a tremendous difference. Commit this to memory: wine one, water one.

Get into the habit of carrying your own water bottle around with you wherever you go, and you’ll be amazed at how much more water you’ll consume throughout the day. 


Anxiety affects at least 40 million people in the U.S,  and one of the most powerful tools to combat anxiety is sleep. 

It’s tempting to binge the latest TV shows all night or have that one last drink at the party, but if you want to stay well both physically and mentally, prioritize your sleep. Coupled with exercise and staying active, this will go a long way to keeping you emotionally on track.

There are fantastic sleep and meditation apps to assist you fall into a deep state of slumber. My personal favourites are Balance (meditation) and Headspace.


You might wonder how you can fit this in during the festive madness, but my general rule of thumb is stick to the one thing you LOVE to do and commit to it.

Focus on reserving even 20-30 minutes out of your day to do the exercise you love the most – whether that’s a basic Pilates mat workout,  sun salutations, a quick run, stretching or deep breathing. If you can’t get to a class, find a quick workout online – Pilates, yoga, HIIT. There are so many to choose from.  If you can make it to a class, even better, as this will help you stay on track for the new year.

Of course, there is nothing better for clearing the head than a walk in the great outdoors. Take a hike with your favourite family member,  or even a stroll around the park. As long as you take the time to slow down and breath. This is a sure fire way to melt away built-up stress, and (potentially) enjoy bonding time with family members.

If you’re at home for the holidays, keep your workout kit beside your bed or visible in the room (don’t let them get “tidied away!”)  It’s amazing how psychologically, keeping the visual reminder, is more likely to prompt you into action. Unfortunately, out of sight does often mean out of mind.

I advise to work out five to six times per week during the holidays. Just turn on your headphones and GO!  The Christmas tree won’t collapse and the presents WILL get wrapped. As we all know, it’s important to don the oxygen mask, before helping others. The same goes for self-care during the holiday period. 

And when away from home?

Pack the one little piece of equipment that can make your holiday workout plan possible: your yoga travel mat, running shoes (forget the fancy running kit), your Trigger Point Therapy ball, your Theraband, or skipping rope.  These are all small, light and immensely useful. Be sure you unpack them and leave them in a visible place.

Stress (and Gut) Busters:

I have two different personal strategies for dealing with stress: deep breathing and yoga pranayama techniques are amazing for calming the mind, as well as the rolling Pilates mat exercises to massage the spine and release the back.

On the opposite extreme, high intensity interval training (HIIT) – short cardio bursts where you go full out for a set period of time, then rest, repeat cardio burst, and so on, really rev the metabolism and create a thermogenic fat burning effect in the body (great post-turkey).

However, the last thing you want to do around the holidays is make exercise – or lack of it – the source of stress! Stick to what you know and enjoy, and even the smallest amount can help. As I said earlier, 20 minutes a day is better than nothing. 

Maintenance is Key

Apart from keeping your mind calm and your body toned during the holidays, staying active will help you maintain fitness.  

Staying fit at the end of the year is critical to help you set up for success at the beginning of the year.  When those new year resolutions come around, you’ll already be ahead of the curve.

There’s nothing more demoralizing than undoing all your hard work from the autumn months by blowing it throughout the holiday season.  

It will make you feel as though you’re above ground zero on January 1st!


To thank you for your support this whole year, we’ve joined forces Sweaty Betty to gift you with a $90 Sweaty Betty voucher plus a surprise gift from FLEX when you top up your credit package this December!

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Remember, we are happy to hold your package during your vacation holidays, so let us know if you plan to travel.

Happy Holidays!

FLEX Mas Gift Certificates

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