How To Stay Healthy This Holiday Season – Life Skills

by Dr. Rick Kirschner on November 23, 2009

RollieTiptoeSnow Thanksgiving holiday marks the official beginning of the winter holiday season and the run up to the New Year (2010, can you believe it?) many occasions for family time, fun activities, appreciation and gifts, greetings and visits with friends old and new.

It is also a time of misery and despair for many.  People dealing with money problems in this struggling economy, and the health challenges of flu and colds with fever, aches and stuffy nose.  And because tasty treats abound during the holidays, many people struggle with weight gain and loss of good sense (not necessarily in that order.)

Then there’s the challenge of loneliness and loss, combined with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) leading to serious cases of depression.  And all of these difficulties may be made all the worse by the constant media and shopping message to have a happy holiday!

To help you have a healthy as well as happy holiday season, I offer you the following recommendations, along with my best wishes to you and yours for an enjoyable season filled with love and gratitude.

Don’t be a martyr!

Will you have friends or relatives visiting? Let them help! Ask guests to bring a dish or two, and/or go out to eat once in awhile.  You don’t have to do it all, and you don’t have to do it all by yourself.  If you’re visiting someone who insists on being a martyr, don’t take on somebody else’s guilt trip.  Instead, flip it, strip it, and nip it in the bud.  I plan to write about how to deal with guilt trips in an upcoming post.

Touch the dial!

Contrary to the media admonition of ‘Don’t touch that dial!’ aimed at keeping you on a particular channel, I say touch the dial.  It’s your dial.  Go ahead, touch it!  Keep the ‘news’ from television and radio to a minimum. There’s too much doom and gloom in the world, and too much of it is bad for your nervous system. In fact, bad news causes a lot of stress and depression. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can make you feel tired, stressed and run-down, without adding insult to injury and bringing yourself down with a steady diet of bad news.

Get Out!

Your immune system can get depressed, and you may end up sick if you don’t take the time to take care of yourself. So do your best to get as much exercise and fresh air as you can, and make sure you take time for adequate rest and sleep.  And then get outside in the fresh air, even if it’s cold, at least for a little while every day.  Get out around people, because your immune system will work better for you if it gets exposed and challenged by being around others.

Get Help!

If you routinely get depressed during the holidays or winter months, seek help before things get bad.  There are nutritional changes you can make to minimize that impact, deal with depression, and increase your sense of wellbeing even when it’s cloudy.  I’m not going to prescribe them here, but consult with a licensed Naturopathic Physician and you’ll be amazed at how many nutritional and botanical choices you can make to make a positive difference in your mood and attitude.  The sooner you seek help, the faster you’ll feel better, and the better your holiday season can be.

Chill Out!

Make private time for yourself to relax, read, take a bath, and rejuvenate. Be moderate in all things. It’s fine to indulge a little here and there, but there’s no need to lose yourself in it.  Set aside time every day, ‘me’ time, so you don’t get out of sorts.

Get What You Deserve

Feel like you deserve a higher quality of life?  Then eat consciously! Attach consequences in your mind to the items on your plate, by thinking ahead to how you’ll feel once you’ve consumed them. Decide in advance how much is enough, and stick to it. You’ll feel better after each success, and enjoy yourself for longer periods of time because of higher energy and feelings of self worth.

Feel like you don’t deserve a higher quality of life?  Prove it.  Give yourself a chance to find out otherwise, by taking that same advice.

Take It Outside

Socialize away from the food tables.  Argue away from the food tables.  In fact, anything that might disturb you or others on the holidays is best handled away from the food, treats and celebratory items hanging on the walls.   If you’ve ever been in a class where I used the term ‘spatial sorting,’ then you know that people form associations to intense interactions.  That’s why I recommend that you never get intense at the dinner table or the bedroom.  Take it outside!

Don’t be a Pig.

At a buffet, take smaller portions of your favorite foods instead of full servings. And if you plan to drink alcohol, eating something before, during and after provides a buffer against stomach irritations caused by alcohol.  Nothing ruins the holidays more than people losing their self control and then getting out of sorts with themselves and taking it out on everyone else.

Have a Drink

Make sure to drink plenty of water too, during and after drinking alcohol, and even if you have no alcohol at all! Water takes away aches and pains, helps digestion and respiration.  Your body is mostly water, and if you keep yourself hydrated, you’ll feel better, sleep better, digest better, and have more fun.

Take a Pill

At the least, consider a multivitamin/ mineral formula, some Vitamin D, and up your intake of anti-oxidants.

Take a Walk

Be active! Maybe, if you’re visiting someone away from your usual resources, you’ll have to abandon your workout routine for a few days, but you surely can give your body opportunities for motion.Park farther away from your destinations. Take stairs instead of elevators and escalators. Take walks to get out of the house once in a while.

Play With Someone Else

Play brings joy, and joy is the intended emotion of the season. Somewhere inside of you is a kid wanting to let go. Let that kid out, and have fun, by making time for fun and making sure it happens. Games of all kinds make a welcome addition to family gatherings.  Even people who say they hate games are often surprised at how much fun they are, once they get started.

Be Cheap

Ok, Scrooge, I know you like this one best.  But really, money is a common source of stress during the holidays. Manage your money wisely, by asking ‘Is this necessary?’ Instead of gifts, consider service projects where you and your relatives can go help others who are less fortunate.  Or set up an abundance swap, like my friend Jeff Golden did here in Southern Oregon.  Instead of buying new gifts for your family and friends, trade some old ones with them and pass them on to others as gifts with heart.

Stay Away

If you must shop, you spare yourself a lot of misery and stress by shopping from home, over the internet.  You’ll save yourself the energy and time of dealing with crowds, find better prices and variety too.

Just remember.  Having a great holiday is all about making wise choices.  You have the power to make wise choices and enjoy your holiday, and the best present you can receive is the gift of being present with your life and grateful for it, as it is.

Comments?  Feedback?  Questions?  Something you think I overlooked?  I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Be well,


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