It’s the holiday season and we all know what that means. Many of us are letting loose, shopping, cleaning the house, preparing rich, delicious foods for get-togethers. Not only are we trying to enjoy the holidays with family and friends, we’re also preparing for the new year. If you’re enrolled in an employer-sponsored benefit account, such as a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA), or Health Savings Account (HSA), you may be thinking that you’ll wait until January to get started on getting your health and wellness plan started.
With a few small changes during the holiday season, though, you can begin to maximize your HSA and FSA funds for 2018. Instead of front-loading your healthcare expenses and blowing through your benefit dollars early, think of your overall health and wellness as a year-round goal. That way when it comes later in the year, you still have some available tax-free funds available to cover any unexpected expenses.
Everybody loves Grandma’s holiday ham and pecan pies, but a little goes a long way. On your first pass round the buffet line, try not to heap your plate high; just fill it up, single depth. Then sit down, take smaller bites, and eat a little slower. Your body will recognize the signs of fullness better and you’ll burn more calories. Later, you’ll have room for a little pecan pie and you won’t feel so miserable.
Sometimes family can be hard to deal with. A drink or two can relax the tension and loosen everyone up. When you have an alcoholic beverage, many of which are filled with sugar, alternate the next drink with a glass of water. Not only will it help you keep your head in the game, but it also reduces the amount of calories you intake. Plus, when Uncle Bob needles you about that embarrassing thing you did at the lake when you were 19, you can outwit, outsmart, and outlast his nonsense.
No, you don’t have to run a marathon in the snow. But during halftime of the big game, get off the couch and have a little fun. Grab your favorite cousin and take a 15 minute walk to gossip about Aunt Frieda’s lipstick. Have a snowball fight. Toss the football. Play a pickup game of basketball. Walk the kids to the park. The American Heart Association says that even as little as 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times a day, can make a difference. It doesn’t have to be boring, and your heart and waistline will thank you.
Okay, you don’t have to deprive yourself over the holidays. Indulge in some dark chocolate or enjoy a glass of red wine. The benefits of eating dark chocolate include better brain function and lower risk of heart attack and stroke. Red wine, in moderation, has been linked to lowering cholesterol and higher bone density, among other benefits.
It’s hard to get enough sleep during the regular times of the year, but even more so around the holidays. It’s go, go, go for many of us. Not getting enough sleep can lead to more stress and a suppressed immune system. When things settle down a little, find a quiet room, rest your head, and take a nice power nap. You’ll wake up refreshed and ready to school that 15-year old nephew who’s been talking trash all afternoon.
Get a jump start on your health and wellness for next year during this holiday season. Your body will thank you and it can help you stretch your benefit dollars throughout the whole year.