For many Americans, December is for holiday parties, family gatherings, and then New Year’s celebrations. Unfortunately, it’s also a time that is stressful for a lot of them. For some, being with family brings up old issues and disagreements. For others, it’s being away from family that is so stressful. For still others, December is a constant fight with a rapidly expanding waistline.
What does this have to do with health? Funny you should ask… Health isn’t just physical, but emotional and psychological as well. The holidays (be they now, or at other times of the year) provide us with an opportunity to promote emotional health in the midst of the challenges. In some ways, the challenges remind us of the need for emotional health.
A teacher of mine gave all of his emotionally stressed patients the simple prescription, “Treat yourself gently.” This is has since become a mantra for me in my personal and professional life, and is never more applicable than at the holidays. A walk in the park, a quiet cup of tea, a moment to meditate, or playing an instrument are examples of what he meant. During the rush of travel, the chaos of a kitchen or the strife across the dinner table, these specific things may be hard to find, but there’s an easy solution – Treat yourself gently. Make allowances for your shortcomings and circumstances. Forgive yourself. Find something that works for you in your life and make time to enjoy it.