Choosing happiness for the holidays

Be Well

“I have decided to be happy because it is better for my health.”

– Voltaire

Many of us, and I include myself in the “us”, wait for circumstances to provide our happiness. The option of happiness as a decision doesn’t make a lot of sense; or does it? How is it that often we see people in the most adverse conditions maintain a level of joy which seems impossible? Note that I use the word “joy” to replace “happy.” I submit that even in Voltaire’s statement that “joyful” could better replace “happy.” Those who are truly joyful find that within themselves and those focused more on happiness look around them for that source – a set of circumstances often impossible to reach.

Depression is a word which we hear very often in our society. There are many commercials and advertisements of medications which promise relief, and some are very helpful despite what can be very serious side effects. Depression can be situation-related, such as grief over loss of a family member, as well as related to seasonal disorders and clinical depression, the latter which can require substantial medical intervention. This column’s purpose is not to explore the causes and treatments for depression, and this writer does not have the knowledge and expertise to do so. However the holiday season can bring about stress and anxiety so here are some tips which might help:

  • Watch/listen to fewer news reports. Today’s information cycle is 24/7 and it is never good regardless of your political or ideological views. On that same note, refrain from political discussion with family and friends during holiday gatherings.
  • Make a practical list of any holiday gifts you are expected to provide, and stick to it! Easier said than done, I know from personal experience!
  • Make sure you continue to exercise regularly despite a busier schedule. Exercise releases endorphins important in controlling stress. Additionally, as we are all excited about the yummy candies and cookies available, remember that sugar can also elevate the heart rate and affect anxiety levels.

Back to Voltaire’s quote – joy and happiness have a direct benefit to our heart health, our digestive system, muscle pain, quality of sleep and energy level. During this holiday season and always, I wish you joy, peace, and contentment, a word we seldom hear in today’s society. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” So don’t allow yourself to be caught up in comparing your holiday season – and your life – with anyone else. Eat well, exercise, spend time with family and friends (away from the “news”) and perhaps look around you to see how you might reach out to those in need through volunteer activities and outreach.

And to change the topic entirely, thank you to all who have attended the two book signings I have done at the PetSmart store this past year. My book, “Sweetie’s Scars: A Journey of Hurt, Hope, and Healing” has been well received locally and in sales on Amazon. Proceeds are donated to the Humane Society for Hamilton County. I appreciate your support of Sweetie’s legacy to end animal abuse.

Wishing you Thanksgiving blessings,

Sharon McMahon, CNWC

The opinions expressed in this article are not intended to replace advice of your personal physician or licensed health professional. Please consult your physician for any issues you may have related to nutrition or fitness activity.

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