The holiday season is officially here and if like many people, you celebrated its arrival with a huge Thanksgiving feast, then you may also be focused on how you’ll make it through to the New Year without going overboard with eating, especially since so much holiday food can be on the unhealthy side. However, this is also a time of great opportunity to feed yourself in a way that relieves stress, doesn’t pack on the pounds, and in fact, is actually heart healthy. Here are some strategies to get you through the holidays that will increase your level of happiness and satisfaction amidst the coming chaos, that are good for your heart:
1. Perform a deliberate act of kindness - Just before Thanksgiving, I knew I was meeting up with someone who goes above and beyond for me–and doesn’t have to. When I walked in the door with some beautiful flowers, her face lit up and she said that the gift made her day. It was the best part of my day too. Call or send a card to someone you’ve been thinking about to let them know. It will make your heart swell.
2. Appreciate and honor your impact - Every year around Christmas I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and every year I cry like a baby because it always reminds me that we all influence each other in so many ways that we’re not aware of. Every thought that leads to an action that leads to an interaction–whether through words or gestures, could make the difference between someone falling through the ice and drowning or going on to become a hero (I love that movie!). Being mindful of your actions will help you make better choices and enable you to feel good about yourself.
3. Receive graciously - The holiday is all about giving, yet with so much giving going on, someone must be doing the receiving. In Gay Hendricks’ book, The Big Leap, one way that we stop the flow of positive energy towards us is by deflecting, for example, a compliment. Dismissing kind words or even love are forms of resistance that can actually contribute to disease because of the negative emotions associated with them. Yet, the more you allow yourself to receive, the more you open the channels for more good to come your way–and the happier you’ll be.
4. Be grateful - Sometimes we get so caught up in our own drama that we unnecessarily create excess stress and prevent ourselves from seeing how good we actually have it. Gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to shift your perspective on your situation and is also a receiving process that opens the channels for more to be grateful for. Keep a gratitude journal and write in it every day to keep the habit going. Writing in your journal before bed also reduces stress and will help you sleep better, which are both heart healthy.