It’s nearly school holiday in South Africa and people are getting ready to relax. This is a good thing. People should relax. We can’t always be working at full speed. But if and when you relax, what do you do? What is your idea of relaxation? Is it to go out all night and have a good time, or is it to snuggle up in bed and read a book? Or maybe you see relaxation as spending quality time with your family?  There is certainly a time and place for everything, but what you must know is that all of your holiday habits might not be healthy.

In today’s blog post, we’ll try to give you an idea of how to still enjoy your holiday while still being healthy.

1. Move

Even though a lot of us might be office bound during work hours, we still move around a bit during the day. To get to work you need to walk to your car or to the bus stop. From the drop off point or where you park, you have to walk to your office or classroom. Some of us walk to work while others cycle. At work you get up to make a cup a Joe, you walk between class and so on. You get the picture, right?

But for some reason, during the holiday, people tend to change their daily routines drastically. We don’t get up at around the same time that we normally do. Some of us go to bed much later and gets out of bed much later. Sure, it’s fun to stay up and watch series all night, or to stay to play another game of DotA, and another, and another… Yes these are fun things to do, but it’s not super healthy!

So instead of playing DotA all day, and not moving for more than getting another drink or going to the loo, get up early and move!

Not a fitness freak? Don’t sweat it, do some push-ups or just stretch a bit. Or maybe do a nice warm up routine, you know, swing the arms, do some star-jumps, that kind of thing. If you are still not convinced, check out the app store and download yourself a fitness instructor.

2. Listen to natural sounds

First of all, take those earbuds out of your ears. Did you put them away? Thank you. Yeah, we know it’s high culture to cruise the streets with your headphones on/earbuds in, but you should reconsider. Earbuds are especially detrimental to your health. Listening to music or radio via earbuds can permanently damage your hearing. It can cause noise induced hearing loss (NIHL), a medical condition that is an ever increasing condition among children and teenagers.

So instead of listening to your loud music on your headphones, put of the sound for a bit and listen. Open your windows and soak in the sounds of the neighborhood. Take note of what is happening around you. Your eyes are not the only way by which you take note of things. Hearing is a powerful tool of perception and we should treasure that. So yeah, listen to the birds sing and the dogs bark. Listen to traffic, flowing by like a river. Or just put some soothing background sounds on YouTube. But don’t listen to it on your earbuds!

3. Keep learning

Whether we are at work, school or university, we constantly learn new things. We take in new information and store it somewhere in your memory. But when we are on holiday, some of us shut out the world and drown ourselves in series, or in games. We are mindlessly ingesting random or unreal information that we are never going to use for anything. Okay maybe it will come in handy in a pub quiz one day…

The point is, the moment we leave work or school, we switch off our brains. Why don’t you read a newspaper or your textbook? Is Instagram really that much more interesting than what you are doing at work or at varsity? If that is the case, try reading a magazine like National Geographic or Popular Mechanics. Learn a new language or teach yourself how to cook properly. Self educate instead of self-indulge! Go on a hike and learn about the local plant life or geology. Take the healthy option and go to the zoo instead of watching animal planet.

4. Breathe

While you are busy with all these healthy activities described above, keep breathing. Being forced to sit for much longer hours than what we really should makes our backs and necks tense. This in turn, makes us clench our jaws. When all of our muscles are clenched like that, we do not breathe properly. This means that we do not get enough oxygen on our blood to go and relieve those tensed up muscles. But how can you get rid of that clench?

And the answer, ladies and gentlemen: Unclench! But this is definitely easier said than done. How do you unclench all of those stiff and sore muscles? By breathing right. Or that is the best place to start, at least. And now you’ll tell me: “One does not simple walk into breathe-right!” This is true. Breathing right is a skill that you will have to teach yourself. The key is to breath into your stomach. Relax your abdomen muscles as you breathe in, make your tummy swell up with air. Then squeeze the air out by contracting your abdomen muscles. Now repeat this ten times. Focus on inhaling and exhaling at the same tempo and feel yourself relax.

A bit too mystic for you? Just give it a try, it will work. Now that you’ve tried it and liked it, do it again tomorrow. When you are comfortable with this exercise, do it twice a day. Keep on doing it until it feels unnatural to breath any other way.

5. Eat

Of coarse we keep on eating during the holiday. Duh! Yes, yes, okay. All of us keep eating. But are we eating healthy food, or are we eating out all the time and eating at different times of day than we normally would? Sure we do. But we shouldn’t. Keeping our eating routine in tact is one of the best things we can do this holiday!

Try to eat at the same times that you normally do. And check what you eat! It is no use to eat at the same time of day, every day, but all you eat is pizza. Start off the day with a nice bowl of sliced papaya and pineapple. Add a dash of plain yogurt and sprinkle of cinnamon if you want. And instead of drinking a caffeinated drink first thing in the morning, try some warm water with a slice of lemon in it. This, in combination with the fruit, will set up your intestines for a great day in digesting food! Snack on nuts and fruits regularly throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels constant. And have an early dinner, so that you’re done with the major digesting by the time you go to bed.

The great thing about food is that you can eat real good food that is really good for your health! Have a braai, but don’t overeat yourself on meat only. Have some salad, have some butternut and beetroot. You are also allowed to eat a burger if you want. :p

Just keep in mind, healthy tummy, healthy life!

6. Sleep

A tabby cat sleeping on an a couch armrest

Stick to your regular sleep routine. Do not go to bed four hours later than you normally would and get out of bed six hours later than you know you should. Your body is used to a certain rhythm. And it needs that rhythm. Our body functions are based on hormonal cycles and we need to keep those cycles in tact if we want to keep ourselves healthy.

While it is definitely advantageous to sleep more during the holiday, don’t overdo it and don’t force yourself to exhaustion before you sleep for sixteen hours. A lot of employers agree on the fact that employees are more exhausted after taking a holiday than before. This may be because we do not sleep right during those holiday times.

(7. rave repeat!)

Sure, we understand that you want to get all that you can from your holiday, but do it responsibly. Stay healthy and sleep regularly!

We are not saying that you are not allowed to have fun this holiday. Not at all! As we said, there is a time and place for everything. Binge a bit, but for every binge, do something healthy to counteract the bad effects that binge-ing has on your body.