Holiday Season Rx: Love More, Stress Less
We embark on this holiday season with mixed feelings of excitement and joy. Many of us can’t wait for the opportunity to gather with family, friends, coworkers and anyone else we can get to leave their homes to shower them with the pent-up generosity of spirit that’s been growing in our hearts as a result of not being able to see, hug and visit with them as we’ve always done; to navigate their feelings, egos and quirks; and to overspend, overeat and overindulge in every possible way.
Who wouldn’t look forward to all this? And don’t we deserve it after the weird year we’ve just come through? We’ve been jerked around by pandemic-related lockdowns, closings, shortages of goods and services, breakthrough infections, vitriolic and messy mask politics, and slowdowns (including our own) due to COVID precautions. It’s time to let it out—and what better time to give ourselves permission to do so than the holidays? I’m starting now to make this season as long, live-and-love-out-loud, generous and dynamic as I possibly can!
A big part of holidaying is interacting with and caring for others, recognizing that for many the season brings unhealthy pressures. While there is no systematic review of increased mental health problems around the holidays, surveys suggest that people experience more stress, anxiety and depression in the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Left unaddressed, these temporary signs and symptoms can develop into chronic mental health disorders.
This month’s issue is intended to come to the rescue for us all because it addresses our cognitive and mental health. I am pleasantly surprised by how all the professionals represented here seem to be on the same page about how we can protect our brain and emotional well-being—and the tips they provide are all so basic, so within our own control. In our feature article, “Healthy Brain Strategies,” Linda Sechrist unpacks how good habits like eating a nutritious diet, exercising, reducing inflammation and stress in our lives, cultivating positive relationships and getting adequate sleep are shifting the paradigm about aging and cognitive decline. North Texas’ own Jerron Hill, M.D., also weighs in, adding my favorite thing—prayer—to his strategic recommendations in his health brief, “Pillars of Good Brain Health.” Not to be outdone, Dorsey Standish, CEO of Dallas/Fort Worth-based Mastermind Meditate, brings us timely, actionable strategies for mindfulness, which goes to the heart of the other's recommendations about stress reduction.
Reducing stress is probably my biggest and most consistent challenge. I often allow my stress level to be controlled by outside forces, rather than taking control of it myself. My go-tos here are our instruction manual—the Bible—and prayer, as Dr. Hill has espoused. I find my Creator’s words can control my stress animal 100 percent of the time.
As we enter the holidays, I hope you will keep Natural Awakenings magazine—online or on paper—close by at all times. We work diligently and intentionally to fill its pages with basic, accessible, actionable information that will help you on your journey of living a healthier life on a healthy planet.
Blessings until next month,