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Holiday Stress Survival Tips: Maintain Energy, Keep Fit, Stay Calm

flex tips for the holidays
Health & WellnessPost Category - Health & WellnessHealth & Wellness - Post Category - FitnessFitness

Staying fit this holiday season!

It’s that time of year when many of us gear up to leave Hong Kong and celebrate holidays overseas. Packing and planning often involves levels of organisation that equal a military maneuver, and stress levels during the so called “holiday” often leave us more depleted than rejuvenated. Can you relate, mamas?

Breaking away from our normal patterns, along with jet lag, lack of exercise and overindulgence of mulled wine, tasty Christmas meals, and socialising can all contribute to increased levels of stress.  Combined with travel and exposure to large groups of people, our immune systems can breakdown, leaving us susceptible to colds and flu, not to mention the impact on our emotional wellbeing. Yikes!

We chat with Flex Director Heather Thomas Shalabi offers her top exercise tips to help you prepare for the holiday season, recover faster from long flights, and even help combat the effects of over indulgence and its impact on your digestive system:


It might seem obvious, but all the social eating during vacations (saltier foods and alcohol!), coupled with drier weather in colder climates 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, ruins the skin and slows jet lag recovery) and keep food consumption to a minimum. I know, I know, it’s hard to resist a glass of champers, but to keep your skin looking fresh and hydrated, it’s worth it, mamas! Bring your own herbal tea bags on long-haul flights to keep satiated.

Upon arrival at parties and gatherings, start with sparkling water instead of a glass of bubbly, and alternate your glasses of water and wine. It makes a tremendous difference! Get into the habit of carrying your own water bottle around with you wherever you go; you’ll be amazed at how much more water you’ll consume throughout the day.

woman doing yoga outside


You might wonder how you can fit during the holiday madness, but the key 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 Sun Salutations, a quick run, stretching or deep breathing. You’ll feel so much better afterwards! Do it 5 – 6 times per week: turn off your phone, turn on your headphones and GO!

Trust me, your kiddos, friends and relatives will manage without you for a short time each day (and the presents will get wrapped)!

And when away from home?

Pack one little piece of equipment that can make your holiday workout plan possible: your yoga travel mat, your running shoes (forget the fancy running kit), your Trigger Point Therapy ball, your Theraband, etc.  These are all small, light and immensely useful. Be sure you unpack them and leave them in a visible place so you don’t forget.

It doesn’t matter if you are staying in a home or hotel during the holidays – keep them beside your bed or visible in the room (don’t let them get “tidied away!”); the power of a visual reminder is more likely to prompt you into action.

Stress and Exercise

I have two different strategies for dealing with stress: deep breathing yoga pranayama techniques are amazing for calming the mind, (some pranayama techniques can simultaneously stimulate metabolism!) On the opposite extreme, high intensity interval training – 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-indulgence especially after that second slice of pecan pie!).

But these extremes may not be for everyone.  The last thing you want to do during vacation is make exercise a source of stress! Stick to what you know and enjoy.  If you can make it to a nearby class, even better, it will help you stay on track… and arrive ahead of your goals for 2017.


Here’s to staying fit this holiday season, mamas!

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