My teen group recently brought to my attention their struggles with anxiety and depression during this holiday season. I was pleasantly surprised, and proud, that they were questionning whether there were other ways to cope with their struggles besides turning to a quick fix. Inspired by them, I put together 5 steps to a healthy and joyful lifestyle that we can all practice together. Look out for the BONUS!
It’s cliché but accurate to point out the stress and pressures of the holidays. We are challenged with creating and maintaining wellness during all the hustle and bustle.
“What can I do about it?” you might ask. Consider these steps - or more accurately, life styles - to create a more joyful holiday season and way of life:
Eat healthy- Eat plenty of fruits and veggies and avoid processed food, which can contain loads of sugar, salt, and chemicals. Drink more water and less coffee and alcohol. Take supplements to aid your physical and mental well-being. I like Dr. Andrew Weil’s recommendations for diet and supplements, but you can easily find guidelines that work for you.
Exercise regularly -Exercise every day if you can, and mix it up. Varied workouts are more effective than sticking to the same routine, and will keep you more engaged in your program. Have fun with it.
Practice Mindfulness and Meditate Daily – One of the best ways to practice mindfulness is simply to slow down. Be aware of what you are doing and how you are being with others and with yourself. I know that meditation may, at first, seem torturous and boring for us westerners. In the beginning, you may only be able to manage a few minutes. However, regular meditation practice is emotionally transformative. It may be helpful for beginners, or even those with more experience, to participate in a meditation group.
Be Social - Talk with and do fun things with others, even if you are the “I hate people, I’m a loner” type. We all need to relate to others. This is a key antidote to the self-absorption and isolation that are components of depression and anxiety.
Do things to help make the planet more humane. Get out of your head and into the world. Volunteer, help a neighbor, join or create an activist cause you care about. We must be giving if we are to develop as individuals and if the world is to progress forward.
Bonus, and the most important, step:
Ask for support as you practice these five steps. Let your friends and family know that you are practicing healthier habits and ask them to join you or at least be a supportive check-in, e.g.) “how’s your 3-minutes-a-day mediation going?” You could ask the people you live or work with to try out eating differently / more healthy for a day with you as a game.
Be diligent, creative, and laugh a lot, especially when the going gets tough.
Try this plan with me and let’s support each other through the holidays and beyond into the New Year. Let’s see how it goes.
Peace and Development to all,