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Open Thread Wednesday: Handling Holiday Wellness


It’s the time of year when parties are abundant, grading and deadlines are looming, and health often goes out the window. As an undergraduate, I was particularly guilty of bad behavior during finals week — I’d often go to the one on-campus shop that took our meal plan points and pick up a bag of Oreos and a carton of milk to fuel paper-writing and coding sessions that meant hours of sitting at my computer without moving. Finals weeks and the holiday season around campus can inspire similar desires and patterns, as there doesn’t seem to be a free moment for cooking, much less exercise.

We talk a lot here at ProfHacker about the elusive concept of work-life balance, and wellness is an important part of that equation. This year, I’m trying a new strategy for keeping myself somewhat in shape during the final weeks of the semester: the Runner’s World Run Streak. The concept behind the challenge is simple: run at least one mile every day starting on Thanksgiving and ending on New Year’s Day, for 37 consecutive days of at least taking a little time for fitness and maybe counteracting some of the leftover Turkey and stuffing. Anyone trying the challenge can use the #RWRunStreak hasthag to commiserate or share success (and of course mid-run photos.)

I’ll admit that it’s easier to commit to a fitness plan like this where I live now (Florida) than it was in the snowy and freezing north. However, the idea of the run streak can be adopted to a lot of healthy practices and habit-building measures to counteract what can be a completely overwhelming time of the year. The essential components the streak draws on are:

Achievable Daily Goals. With limited time, ambitious goals are likely to be quickly abandoned, and it’s tough to keep going after a few bad days. Something that fits into 15 minutes or less is more likely to happen than a long trip to the gym.

Social Accountability. We use hashtags for accountability all the time (check out the great results some people have this month with #AcWriMo and other November writing sprints.) Getting a group to commit to a plan or joining something like the Runner’s World streak provides a potential support network.

Travel-friendly Activity. If you’re traveling for the holidays, exercise can get tricky. Plan on wellness activities that fit well in a suitcase and won’t be impossible to manage where-ever you are headed. It’s easier to plan on a run or walk than to get ahold of a bike or find an accessible pool.

What are your strategies for holiday and finals wellness? Share your tips in the comments!

[CC BY 2.0 Photo by Flickr User Manuel Comis]

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