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Tips for a Happy, Healthy Holiday from Pathways Wellness Director Kari Richie

For many people, the holidays are packed with fun activities that bring joy. All of this extra going and doing can, however, mean added stress and a tendency to stray from healthy habits. Follow these guidelines and take care of yourself throughout every season of the year!

Eat Well

Regardless of whether you’re eating at home, dining out with family and friends, or attending seasonal get-togethers, it’s easy to overdo it with holiday treats. Pay close attention to your portion sizes. Try to make half your plate fruits and vegetables, one quarter protein, and one quarter grains.

Shift the focus away from food. Holiday gatherings often center on meals, but the true meaning and intention behind them is togetherness. Instead of filling up with too much food, indulge in conversation and spend quality time with your loved ones.

Springmoor provides multiple dining venues on our campus, making it easier to choose healthy foods. Residents rave about our chef-prepared entrees, huge salad bar, and increased emphasis on plant-based menu items.

Stay Active

The chaos and busy schedules of the holiday season may disrupt your ability to stick to your normal workout regimen. Be flexible and exercise at different times and in ways outside of your routine.

Even if you only have a few minutes to spare, exercising for a short amount of time is better than not exercising at all. And, yes, dancing in your living room to holiday tunes definitely counts!

Reduce Stress

Create a thoughtful plan to tackle your holiday preparations so you’re able to enjoy the season. It usually helps to make a list of tasks and break major projects into small steps.

No one has a picture-perfect holiday! Enjoy the season, flaws and all. Putting salt instead of sugar in the gingerbread cookies may end up being one of your favorite, funny holiday memories. If a task doesn’t get done, let it go and focus on just being together. Or, relax and read a book or watch a holiday comedy instead of racing through a too long “to do” list.

Get Adequate Sleep

Remember to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep restores you and helps your body maintain a strong immune response. Being well-rested will increase your energy level and help you ward off the germs that proliferate when people are spending most of their time indoors.

And, remember to wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds. This simple action is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of illness.

Practice Mindfulness

“Take a walk outside. It will serve you far more than pacing around in your mind.”
–Rasheed Ogunlaru

On three Wednesdays in October, our Pathways team presented a series of mindfulness workshops in our auditorium. Chaplains Lori Higgins and Justin Williamson joined Pathways Wellness Director Kari Richie (former Director of Health & Fitness) to address the benefits of mindfulness for mind, body, and spirit.

Mindfulness can be defined as the awareness that arises by purposefully paying attention, without judgment, to the present moment. Together we explored the benefits of mindfulness to health, basic mindfulness techniques, and practicing gratitude and self-acceptance.

Consistently paying attention to what’s happening right this second can be challenging. We humans often spend more time thinking about the future or dwelling on the past. With practice, you can increase your ability to focus on the present moment so that you can take full advantage of NOW.

Being mindful is about becoming aware of what’s going on inside and around you, including your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and environment. You can practice observing these moments without judgment.

Extensive research indicates that focusing on the present can have a positive impact on your well-being. Mindfulness-based treatments have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. There’s also evidence that mindfulness can lower blood pressure and improve sleep. It may even help people cope with pain.

“For many chronic illnesses, mindfulness meditation seems to improve quality of life and reduce mental health symptoms,” says Dr. Zev Schuman-Olivier of Harvard University (National Institutes of Health).

Meditation is one habit that can help you become more mindful and experience positive health benefits. Other practices and techniques include breathing exercises, body scan meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, mindful eating, and mindful movement.

The Pathways team is looking forward to presenting workshops on mindfulness again in 2024. In the meantime, we hope residents will try practicing mindfulness on their own. Resources and information are available on the Springmoor Resident Portal and In-House TV Channel 1341.

Take an Exercise Class

Everyone wants to avoid potentially injurious falls—especially that dreaded “third fall” that sometimes leads to broken bones, hospital stays, rehab, or the need for support with the activities of daily living. Staying active can help you maintain physical strength while improving your balance and cardiac health.

Springmoor offers residents many exercise classes, from yoga to cardio to line dancing. Our Pathways Wellness Center includes a heated saltwater pool, spa, sauna, and extensive exercise equipment.

If you’d like to improve your physical strength, mobility, and mental sharpness, try a class! We offer dozens of exercise classes on an ongoing basis, as well as fitness-related events and educational opportunities. Members of our waitlist can contact Kari at or 919.848.7147 to make a reservation to join us for one of our many wellness activities.

Try Something New!

Have you ever considered tai chi? This gentle form of exercise can help you maintain your mobility and your sense of balance. Recent medical research indicates that tai chi may also protect against dementia and improve memory and mental acuity!

Tai chi is an ancient form of low-stress exercise that is an offshoot of martial arts. Unlike strenuous martial arts techniques, tai chi does not require significant physical strength or stamina. Long-time practitioners of tai chi often find it contributes significantly to maintaining and improving mind-body coordination.

Until about two decades ago, scientists believed your brain produced new cells only when you were young. Research now demonstrates the brain can change throughout your entire life span by growing new cells, making new connections, and even increasing in size. These changes can improve cognitive function. Various forms of exercise, including Tai Chi, can help.

A meta-analysis of 20 studies on tai chi and cognition indicates this form of exercise can improve executive function—the ability to multitask, manage time, and make decisions—in people without any cognitive decline. In people with mild cognitive impairment, tai chi slowed the progression to dementia more than other types of exercise and improved cognitive function in a comparable way to other types of exercise or cognitive training.

In one study, approximately 400 Chinese men and women with some cognitive impairment performed either tai chi or a stretching and toning program three times a week. Those in the tai chi group showed greater improvements after a year, and only 2% of that group progressed to dementia, compared to 11% from the traditional exercise group.

In another study, tai chi outperformed walking. Following 40 weeks of either tai chi, walking, social interaction, or no intervention, researchers compared MRI images of the study’s participants and found that brain volume increased most in the tai chi group. This group also performed better on cognitive tests.

Form and flow tai chi classes are currently offered at Springmoor on Tuesday and Thursday mornings in the South Village Movement Room. Residents of our community and members of our waitlist can contact Kari at or 919.848.7147 for more information.

Our monthly service package allows you to spend less time doing things like dealing with health insurance paperwork and more time doing all of the things that bring you the most joy. From 24-hour security and emergency call service to chef-prepared meals, life is better at Springmoor!

To learn more about our active senior living community, call us at 919-848-7080 or click here to request a personalized tour or an information packet. We look forward to speaking with you soon about all that Springmoor has to offer. Regardless of how you celebrate, we wish you a holiday season full of joy!



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