Tips for healthier holiday season

by Katelin Whiddon

Christmas should be a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus and spend time with family and friends, but it’s far too easy to get sucked into the gift buying, craft making, decorating and trying to “keep up with the Jones” or even that unrealistic Pinterest mom.  

In years past, I’ve done far too many gifts. Year after year, we try to gradually cut down on how much we buy for our kids. This year, my girls are coming up with practical gifts to ask for, as we have already told them they have enough toys and they won’t be getting tons of toys. Some better options are clothing, accessories or books. We may also look at things like movie tickets, bowling passes, zoo or park passes and more family day gifts. 


I don’t remember the majority of gifts I received as a child, but I do remember blasting Christmas music while we decorated the house. My favorite was playing the spoons to “Feliz Navidad” with my mom and brother – and I still think of spoons when I hear that song.  

I remember reminiscing when pulling out each handmade ornament to put on the tree. I remember driving around to look at Christmas lights with my family. I remember having family celebrate at my Mamaw and Grandad’s house on Christmas Eve, then waking up early on Christmas morning and never wanting to change out of my pajamas. 

Those memories are what really matter – family, traditions, special moments – not the gifts we received. Try making these traditions and quality time with family more of a priority this year. 

With the busyness of the holidays, we often find ourselves worn out.  The level of stress rises, while the healthy eating, exercise and sleep drop off the charts. Most importantly, we have to take care of ourselves during these busy times to keep ourselves healthy. If we run ourselves down, we will never survive this time of year. Try not to overcommit yourself and allow your family some down time to enjoy each other. 

As much as we would like to, we can’t do it all. Sometimes we have to set realistic limits for ourselves on what can be accomplished. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m awful at saying “no” and often get myself overcommitted. 

Start planning early and decide which activities you may have to pass on this year. Setting (and sticking to) a Christmas budget is also a great planning tool. Make your list for shopping and start early. This prevents a large strain on your budget.  Consider a family gift exchange and draw names instead of buying for everyone. Homemade gifts are also very thoughtful and always well accepted. 

Let’s all make it a goal to have healthy, low-stress holiday celebrations this year. Once we see a new approach with the holidays, I think we will find how to enjoy our time with family and friends more. Here’s to a new, healthier holiday season for the 501!


A Conway native, Katelin Whiddon is a nurse practitioner at the Conway wound clinic for Arkansas Heart Hospital. She and her husband, Daniel, have two daughters. A University of Central Arkansas graduate, she has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and works in pediatrics.