This is a holiday season like no other we've seen in our lifetime. But that doesn't mean you can't take advantage of some Joyeux Noel despite COVID-19 restrictions. It does mean that we need to focus attentively on our health, however. Follow these tips to have a safe and healthy holiday despite the pandemic.

Be Kind to Yourself

Let's start by saying that one of the most important ways to protect your health during the holidays is to be kind to yourself. With all the turmoil surrounding us, it's easy to become fearful, stressed, or even depressed. So what if you have an extra dessert, miss a workout, or don’t look your best during a Zoom call? Take a deep breath and give yourself a break.

Make New Year's Resolutions

Let's face it, 2020 has been a fairly disheartening year, but that doesn't mean 2021 has to follow suit. Go ahead and make those New Year’s resolutions, set those goals, and keep your dreams alive.

Cultivate a Balanced Diet

It's likely you're eating more meals at home, so you may want to use this time to start eating more vegetables, drinking more water, lowering your sugar intake, or setting other personal diet objectives. Consider trying one of the many nutritional meal subscription services available or purchase a new water bottle to kickstart your hydration habit. And, in the name of balance, be sure to joyfully indulge on your favorite family recipes over the holidays.

Related Resource: 10 Ways to Stay Healthy and Grounded During COVID-19 Chaos

Start a Hobby

One resolution worth making is to start a hobby, especially if it's something you can do at home, like painting, crafts, woodworking, or baking. (And if it's the latter, watch The Great British Baking Show for inspiration!)

Take a Virtual Class

Many colleges and universities offer online classes, including everything from continuing education courses for career advancement to full-blown degree programs. LinkedIn offers business-related courses, many for free, and sites like The Great Courses and Khan Academy have extensive catalogs, including art, math, science, and more. If you’re aspiring to learn a new language, check out Duolingo. ¡Buena suerte!

Begin Journaling

One of the best ways to put your mind at ease during this time of year is to start a journal. Pick a specific topic or just make daily entries of whatever you’re thinking or feeling at the moment. You may be surprised at the peace of mind that comes from getting your thoughts and emotions out of your head and onto paper. Research shows that journaling may boost your mood, relieve stress, and enhance your sense of wellbeing.

Practice M.S.W.

M.S.W. stands for wear a Mask, practice Social distancing, and Wash your hands. Wear masks in public settings, use social distancing (stay at least 6 feet away from others), and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home (TIP: you can sing the chorus to the holiday tune “Jingle Bells” to keep track of your time!). Remember, in addition to the pandemic, it's also flu season, which is another reason to take extra care.

Build Up Your Immune System

Until there are vaccines or medications to prevent or cure COVID-19, it's wise to build up your immune system as a defense mechanism. That includes engaging in regular exercise activities, eating healthy, getting quality sleep, and reducing stress. Curbing your sugar intake is another way. Eating or drinking lots of simple sugars can decrease your immune system's ability to fight viruses and bacteria. Also, drink plenty of water to flush toxins from your system. If you’re interested in additional immune-boosting methods, talk to your doctor about what’s best for you and your loved ones.

Get a Flu Shot

Flu becomes prevalent this time of year, so make it a priority to get a flu shot and any other vaccinations you or your family may need.

Keep a Positive Focus

With COVID-19, there are grave concerns suicide rates could increase (or already have) due to social isolation, economic stress, and limited community support. Rather than dwell on the negative, try to keep a positive focus. "This, too, shall pass," the adage goes—and it will. (If you find yourself considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 and speak to someone who can help.

Take a Walk

We mentioned exercise as one way to boost your immune system. If you can't go to the gym, you can still take a walk. Who knows, a stroll around your neighborhood may do you a world of good. Also, keep in mind, many gyms offer virtual fitness classes, and there's always YouTube.

Create New Holiday Memories

Many of the typical holiday activities will look different this year. Plan new activities focused on safe connection, movement, and fun. Now is the perfect time to start a new holiday tradition.

Heed the CDC's Warnings

The CDC offers several considerations to slow the spread of COVID-19 during gatherings, and it's wise to heed their warnings. CDC also has an extensive list of common-sense dos and don'ts when doing certain things during the holiday season, including everything from traveling overnight to visiting the library. 

Brighten the holidays by taking steps to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy—and enjoy all the season has to offer despite COVID-19.