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The Christmas and holiday season is often thought to be the most wonderful time of the year. But what makes this season so wonderful for you? Is it the joy of singing Christmas carols, drinking a favorite wine you have been saving for the holidays, or is it baking those Christmas treats — the warm chocolate chip cookies, cakes, candies, fudge and maybe decorating a gingerbread house with the children? Or is it the fun of the company party where everybody wears their best clothes and enjoys the company of their coworkers? A huge amount of effort and energy is given to the selection of gifts and the exchanging of presents at Christmas. The common question when making our Christmas list, is what to get family and friends for Christmas.
The idea of giving gifts at Christmas took root in the 11th century in England. The custom of giving gifts emerged, replicating the gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh given to Jesus by the Wise Men. And then came the tales of Father Christmas or Santa Clause, a joy for children and adults alike.
While for many of us this is a magical time of snowflakes, roasting chestnuts, gift giving, and enjoying friends and family, for others the season can be associated with stress, anxiety, and even depression. Perhaps this year more than ever, people will be dealing with illness or loss of loved ones, loss of income and financial stresses, loneliness, isolation. Some may feel pressure to enjoy themselves and look happy. Some struggle with family norms or cultural expectations that they no longer ascribe to.
Let’s look at some ways to stay happy and healthy through the holiday season — and perhaps to ward off any tendencies towards depression or personal illness.
Keep it simple: Monitor your time and commitments carefully. Pace yourself, doing what you love to do, not what others feel you should do. Resist pressure to socialize if you crave some quiet time.
Nutrition: Enjoy the many delicious traditional foods and goodies — in moderation. Be sure there are some healthy dishes on the table, and for the most part stay focused on wholesome foods. Follow any APO E gene dietary recommendations as best you can. Consider smaller portions for those extra rich inflammatory type foods
Exercise: This is vital for mind and spirit as well as the body, especially given tendencies to over indulge in food and drink. Encourage friends and family to exercise with you — walk, run, stretch.
Supplements: A common reason for depression, sometimes referred to as seasonal affective disorder, is low vitamin levels. In the USA, October 1st to April 1,st the angle of the winter sun simply doesn't provide the vital vitamins D we need. If you tend towards depression, make an appointment and we can talk about it, and check your Vitamin D levels. Omega 3 supplements are helpful in warding off depression. If you have a history of low Vitamin B, take your B6, B12 and folic acid, re-evaluate any APO E gene supplement recommendations. Knowing your level of these essential vitamins can be vital.
Focus on the good: Remember, change what you can change and accept what you can’t. If needed, reach out to someone, share why the holidays are difficult, and how you can ease this time.
Gift giving: Rather than battling the mall or stores, consider some simple gift making that comes from your heart. Perhaps writing a poem, or drawing or painting a picture to put in a lovely frame. Or homemade cookies in a pretty box or jar. Children will love helping with these! Consider theatre tickets, a treatment or weekend at a health spa, zoo membership, a workshop in anything from making an indoor herb garden to vegetarian cooking. Consider gifts for good health — an oil lamp with a cotton wick, or essential oils.
Connect: If you usually spend Christmas alone, consider doing something different. Perhaps participate in a church service, for churches are a place of joy at Christmas. Get involved with a local food bank or homeless shelter. Practice random acts of connectedness — holding open a door for someone carrying a pile of presents, saying hello to a stranger, smiling at the people serving you in the shops. Consider gifting a local or an international charity providing food or education for underprivileged children, or planting a tree in someone’s name. These actions can foster a feeling of connecting to the larger world in a meaningful way.
Consider what really matters: I like to remember that as much as I love the activities, gifts and events, what matters most important of all is the sharing of peace, goodwill to all.
Enjoy a happy, health Christmas and holiday season.