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Tips for staying in tip-top shape during the holidays

-by Alan Laird, MD, Chief Medical Officer Since we are in the midst of the holiday season, I’d like to share a few tips on getting through what can be a stressful time. It requires taking a self-inventory and a look at our habits… The first tip is to take care of yourself. While that sounds like common sense, most of us aren’t doing a very good job. It is even more important this time of year, when we get busy with extra things and cut corners on self-care. Make sure you’re eating healthy. A couple of treats from work are not a substitute for a healthy meal. Make sure you’re getting breakfast every day. Continue your exercise program. If you aren’t doing one, start one. Don’t wait for January 1. Exercise not only helps us maintain our weight, but it helps us to sleep better and increases the chemicals in our body for healing and emotional well-being. Getting sunlight is important. Sunlight stimulates our body to make some of those hormones important in emotional well-being. We may find ourselves going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark. If that’s the case, try to have some time during the day when you’re in a brightly lit room; preferably right after you get up for the day. Secondly, regulate your schedule. This is often a time we over-commit. There are additional activities with friends, work, family and the church. Saying yes to everything means we’ll have time for nothing. Be a picky volunteer. Don’t over schedule. Make sure you also plan some downtime, so that you are ready to enjoy the events you have agreed to. Third, examine your budget. If you don’t have a budget for the holidays, make sure you can afford to not have a budget. It is an easy time of year to overspend, which causes a lot of stress next year. Try to be realistic about what you can afford to buy and what you can afford to spend. Last, consider your attitude. If you find yourself stressed out, dreading your upcoming commitments, feeling down or just plain “Humbug,” reexamine the above three points. Is it because you’re not taking care of yourself? Perhaps you have overcommitted? Maybe you have spent beyond your means? And of course, if you find you are really feeling low, talk to your healthcare professional.