Family And The Holidays

I was blessed with two parents, who enjoyed and reinforced the importance of family traditions surrounding the holiday season. Christmas for my family was always held at my parents’ home with lots of wonderful food and laughter, and everyone in the family participating.

But the holiday season for many doesn’t necessarily follow a traditional upbringing. Many people feel stressed, instead of happy, when faced with the financial and emotional challenges of the season. Unfortunately, many people don’t have family in the area, or their relationship with them is strained. They don’t have the money available for presents or airfare, and that’s difficult. There are choices that you can make that can allow you to enjoy your holiday, as best you can.

1A. Reducing your cortisol levels (stress hormones) are critical to keeping your long-term health through the holidays. Contrary to emotional inclinations, over eating, eating high-fat, high-sugar and salt foods will not make you feel warmer and happier. It gives you a ‘food-hangover’ complete with bloat, gas and remorse! Try to eat whole, healthy, unprocessed foods. Whatever foods you do choose, keep the portions moderate.  I believe that enjoying special foods, are part of the enjoyment of the season, but keep the portions at a size you won’t regret the next day.

1B. Cortisol levels are also managed with exercise. The last thing you want to do if you’re stressed or depressed is skip your workout. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel happy and peaceful. Schedule your fitness time,  even if you are away every day. At least take a brisk walk for 30-40 minutes. Maybe even try yoga or an aerobics class. Make it fun with your family and go to a class together. Take a portable DVD player and your own discs, or stream free classes off the web to your mobile device.

2. It’s important to understand that ‘family’ can mean more than your blood relatives. It may include friends, co-workers, or even just your pets. The best choice is not to be alone, so find someone whose company you enjoy.

3. Volunteering for others may bring you more happiness than manufacturing ‘a moment’ with others. Soup kitchens, care facilities and non-profits often have unfulfilled needs that you can assist. The sense of gratitude, even from strangers, may leave you feeling more in the holiday spirit.

4. Start a new tradition. Maybe the old tradition causes you too much stress. Make reservations at a restaurant you’ve never tried.  Investigate the traditions of a religion you are not familiar with. Try picking names instead of feeling you have to buy presents for everyone.

Finding balance and a sense of peace is the key to enjoying the holidays. Think in advance what will please you and pursue that, even if others don’t understand.

I wish for all of you the healthiest and happiest holiday season, and thank you for your feedback with my articles. I enjoy all the supportive comments and appreciation I’ve received. That’s the best present for me!

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