The Holidays are supposed to be a happy, festive time for celebrating with family and friends. Socializing over tasty, comfort foods, Holiday parties, Christmas lights, parades, decorating the Christmas tree, baking (and more eating!), shopping for gifts (or online shopping from your computer or phone for many of us), ice skating and skiing, Christmas movies, Netflix binging and so much more. Contrary to what many people are experiencing this season, for some, this can be a very stressful and/or sad time. Rather than evoking joy, they may be inclined to feeling emotional distress. The reasons are infinite but may include:
The death of a spouse, partner, family member or other loved one
Divorce or Separation
Job loss or unwelcomed change in employment
Kids and family members have moved away
Estrangement with family and/or Friends
Loneliness and Social Isolation
Chronic illnesses – both physical and mental illness
Feeling overwhelmed and pressured to over shop and overspend
Eating more food, gaining weight (when trying to lose weight)
Infertility when you are trying to build a family
Unfulfilled dreams and goals
Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.): temporary depressed mood related to shorter, darker or gray days with diminished sunlight
And many others
Humanity! Embrace it. Literally. People, not things, should always come first. As much as you are able, reach out and connect with others who are caring, loving, supportive. Spend time with people that feed your heart and soul. Material items will come and go. That heart to heart conversation with you best friend or your other favorite human in your life, that truly is physically healthy for the nervous system, the heart, the brain – the entire body benefits. And with physical touch like hugging, holding hands, kissing and much more, there’s this beautiful love/snuggle hormone called oxytocin that is secreted and that has many health promoting advantages for the body. As always, people are nature’s #1 anti-depressant!
Hug Your Pet/Get a Pet
Our beloved fur babies adore us and willingly shower us with unconditional love. Okay, maybe not all pets, but most do. 😊 The love we give and receive from our pets can ease our worries in a matter of seconds. Animals intuitively sense when we are not feeling well and they try their best to comfort us. That same oxytocin hormone – produced in abundance when we snuggle with our furry littles. Don’t have a pet? Foster a pet temporarily, volunteer to pet sit for your friends and family or even better, give that special animal a loving home and a loving heart.
Do What Makes You Happy
If you are feeling down or stressed, do what makes your heart sing! Go with what you know or try something different. Go to a Holiday play or show or arts and crafts event, make your own gift for someone (people love this!) go ice skating, a concert, binge watch Christmas movies or football, knit a blanket or scarf, a holiday church or other spiritual services, go golfing (or Top Golf!), read/listen to a really good and sip on a cup of tea or coffee, cook your favorite meal and invite friends over, take a cooking class, bake your heart out and give away those goodies to others. Doing what makes you happy and brings a smile to your face lifts your mood, spirit, energy and not only improves your relationships with others, it improves your relationship with yourself.
Don’t skip out on your workouts completely just because its colder, darker, you’re feeling tired or busy – there’s always going to be excuses. Not in the mood to face the inclement or changing weather? That’s okay! Work out indoors. Go to a yoga or other gym class, stream a workout from an app on your phone or TV (this is a whole new world if you haven’t figured this out yet) or try a workout on YouTube.com. There are a lot of fitness trainers that want to market themselves and for that reason, there’s a plethora of free workouts on YouTube. With countless health benefits of exercise, serotonin (a feel-good neurotransmitter) and endorphins (peptide pain relieving hormones) thyroid (fat burning/heat producing hormone), cortisol (better energy/mood/anti-inflammatory hormone) are all secreted in abundance when we exercise to enhance our mental and physical health.
The Sugar Blues