Staying Healthy over the Holiday Season

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It's hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us. In three weeks we will celebrate Thanksgiving which begins, for some of us, a time of high stress. Staying mentally and physically healthy during the holidays requires paying attention to ourselves, learning our "warning signs" and using strategies to better manage stress.We can enjoy the holidays, our family and friends and ultimately, ourselves when we are feeling good.

Here are a few pointers:

  • Know your limits for stress. It is important to pace yourself and use strategies to help you manage stress before it builds up and becomes a problem.
  • Avoid schedules that don't allow time to "decompress" and relax.Look at each day and identify a brief period which is your personal time to do something which helps you unwind. That may be involve reading a good book, taking a walk, enjoying a hobby, playing with your pet, exercising or following a spiritual pursuit.
  • Avoid overexposure to situations which are your "triggers" for stress. Learn what situations cause problems for you and identify what you can do to prevent the triggers from engaging you in patterns of thinking and behaving which are part of your stress cycle.
  • If you are remaining abstinent from substance use or other activities which cause problems for you it is important to avoid situations in which you could relapse. "Partying" is dangerous. Use your support groups, sponsors, sober friends, church and helpful family members to assist you remain on the path of sobriety. Remember, there is no holiday from sobriety.
  • Learn to laugh and enjoy your family, friends, people around you  and yourself as "we" are a very important part of any holiday celebration. The strength and bond of positive family relationships and friendships are powerful medicines.
  • Remember that there are people in the world who can use your help. Try to reach out to someone and give of yourself. This could include volunteering, helping an elderly or sick neighbor or just putting your arm around someone who is having a rough time. Everything you give will come back tenfold.
  • Focus on your health from the dimensions of mind, body and spirit. Determine what each part of you needs to remain healthy and on a daily basis pursue those activities.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself and on a daily basis check your progress. Are you doing what you planned to do to attain your goals? What would it take to get "back on track"? Don't let a slight deviation from your desired course throw your plans into a tailspin.
  • Use the resources which are available to you. If you are in therapy, maintain your scheduled appointments. If you are keeping a journal, maintain your daily entries. If you are dieting, determine how you can maintain your diet and still enjoy the holidays. Use the tools you have.
  • Avoid the Holiday Letdown reaction. Those days after Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's don't have to be hangovers, depression or just feeling bad. Learn what causes the overload responsible for the Holiday Letdown and address that problem in advance.

These pointers are not all inclusive, but rather some ideas to help make the holiday season a positive and memorable experience for you and your loved ones.
 And, by the way, enjoy!!!!

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