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A Modest Course Correction

By Mary O’Brien, M.D.

Are you exhausted yet?  Is the holiday frenzy taking its toll?  Do you feel moments of melancholy creeping into your consciousness?  Fear not.  Millions of people feel the same way.   The good news is that it’s not too late to salvage the final weeks of 2019. Stress and exhaustion need not characterize this time of the year.   A modest course correction could save the day and set the stage for a better 2020:

  • Don’t overextend yourself physically or financially.  We all have limits. Recognize and honor them.
  • Preserve and protect your sleep.  Optimal amounts of serotonin, dopamine, nor-epinephrine, and growth hormone are produced during the deeper stages of sleep.  Don’t skimp.
  • Bump up your exercise to boost endorphins (a $2,000 exercise bike is not necessary).
  • Perform frequent acts of kindness in the true spirit of the season. It will increase your serotonin and IgA levels.
  • Decrease time on social media sites and increase one on one time with real people you care about.
  • Avoid political conversations. Our country is profoundly divided now, and political arguments will not make the holidays any nicer.
  • Overlook the flaws of others and realize you have flaws too.  Don’t let yourself be overly sensitive about off-the-cuff remarks from relatives.
  • Don’t overindulge when it comes to rich foods, alcohol, and caffeine.  Moderation in the last two weeks of December can prevent a guilt trip in the first week of January.
  • Set aside at least 10-20 minutes each day for quiet, peaceful reflection, prayer, or meditation. Read or listen to something inspiring and uplifting.  The busier you are, the more desperately you need this.
  • Slow down and enjoy the moment. Before long we’ll all be working on taxes.  There’s a cheery thought.
  • Do what you can to mend a misunderstanding, forgive a wrong, or let go of a grudge.  Bitterness, anger, and resentment are exhausting.  Let it go. LET IT GO. Don’t make me sing that song from Frozen.

Holidays are supposed to be a time of joyful celebration with friends and family.  They can be the source of some of life’s most precious memories.  Holidays, like life, are what you make of them.  Everyone at INR (Institute for Natural Resources) joins me in wishing all of you a healthy, happy Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year!