Most of us want to experience the holiday season with an attitude of gratitude and love. Yet even with our best intentions, the stress that comes with the holidays each year has the ability to cloud any feelings of goodwill or gratitude we wish to express.
Here are a couple of things we can do to stay positive and thankful at a time when we may be overcome with pessimism:
- Increase serotonin (also referred to as the “good mood” hormone). Some of the bad holiday habits—too much sugar, alcohol, protein and fat—can lead to blood sugar imbalances, lack of motivation to exercise, and increased stress, resulting in reduced serotonin levels and the potential for a variety of health challenges, including depression. To build and maintain optimum serotonin levels, add foods like turkey, cottage cheese, salmon, oatmeal, cheese, whole wheat, yogurt and eggs to your diet. When our bodies produce sufficient serotonin levels, we are happier, more relaxed and get better sleep at night.
- Exercise. Motion builds positive emotion and exercise is one of the best natural antidepressants. In our hurried holiday pace it’s easy to let go of our exercise routines but over 100 clinical studies have shown that exercise will help prevent and treat depression. As little as 10 minutes of exercise three times daily can have a powerful and positive impact on both emotional and physical well-being.
- Focus on what’s going well in your life and write it down. Try to list at least 5 things that you are grateful for every night before you go to sleep. A lot of times we focus on the negative parts of our days, but the more you practice writing down what you are thankful for, you’ll realize how much there is to appreciate in your life. The best part is, your happiness will increase and continue to grow throughout the New Year.