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Making It Through the Holidays

Making It Through the Holidays
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By Kitt Walsh

Combine the seasonal lack of sunshine, cold weather and enforced holiday cheer, you have a great recipe for a serious case of the holiday blues. So how can you make it through the holidays both happy and healthy? There are some things you should try:

Keep Busy: Pick two things a day to keep you occupied in a valuable way. Visit a nursing home to bring cheer to those seniors who have no one. Read a “good” book (something that stretches your brain, like a historical biography or a subject about which you know nothing.) Volunteer at the food pantry and not just on the holiday itself. Bring a casserole to an overworked neighbor.

Show love: Write a real letter to your aunt telling her how much she has meant in your life. Listen to the woes of your cousin, the new mother, without criticism. If you are alone this holiday, thank a bell ringer at the grocery for their work or a serviceman for his service. Compliment your neighbor on her new hairstyle. Look for ways to connect to your fellow humans. Don’t forget your animals either. Don’t have any? Go visit the Humane Society Shelter and play with the puppies. Rescue one if you have the resources.

Include loving yourself: Stop the negative thinking and talking about yourself. Change your thoughts and work on loving yourself. Building self-esteem is an inside job. You are not perfect, but you are okay.

Swear off fad diets: I know January 1st is the day many of us begin the all-broccoli diet or every-other-day fast, but this year commit to relearning how to eat and exercise as is appropriate for people our age. That 10 pounds around your hips may help you avoid a break if you fall.

Get enough sleep: Tough during this hectic season, I know, but try to go to bed the same time every night you can, after a hot bath and with a drop of lavender oil on your pillowcase. Try for 7 hours and wake up the same time too. A well-rested mind and body can better fend off stress and depression.

Don’t deny yourself too much: You dread New Year’s Day and looking at the scale, don’t you? How depressing to find those pounds you worked so hard at losing seem to have found you again. No need to say “no” to all holiday goodies. Practice the three-bite rule and allow yourself to sample many of the goodies on the buffet, but only a trio of small bites. Then put the fork down.

Move: Not only by exercising (though you can add an extra walk to the morning one to help keep pounds off and depression away). Go to all parties to which you are invited. Schedule a facial. Catch a movie you’ve wanted to see. Get off the couch!

Cheer yourself up: I dare you to be sad when watching “Miracle on 34th Street” or “It’s A Wonderful Life” with a giant bowl of popcorn. Or DVR one of the schmaltzy Hallmark specials or “Love Actually” (I schedule an annual private showing).

The nose knows: The smell center in our brain is close to the area that regulates emotion, so aromatherapy can help your mood. Go for citrus. Wipe down your wood furniture with lemon oil. Put a few drops of orange oil on a diffuser in your home and office. Try a few drops of tangerine on your bedroom light bulb.

Practice gratitude: Gratitude can be an action word. Before sleeping ad again upon waking in the morning, list the things in your life for which you are grateful. Can’t think of anything? Try matching something for which you are grateful to every letter of the alphabet. A is for air and B is for the blue sky, C is for coffee …break it down to the smallest thing. Your brain cannot hold two thoughts at the same time. Self-pity and gratitude cannot co-exist.

Take command of your mood: Realize that, (barring a real clinical depression—one that doesn’t go away== for which you should consult your medical practitoner right away) your mood is largely up to you. You can decide to start the day over again at any time. Fill your holidays up with as much light, love, people-to-people contact, exercise and useful work as possible.

Happy holidays and here’s hoping your new year is a great one!

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