STAYING FIT AND HEALTHY DURING THE HOLIDAYS

With the holidays coming up, the highlight for many people during this season is gathering with family and friends and enjoying favorite holiday treats. Here are some tips that will help you enjoy your holidays to the fullest while not increasing your waistline.

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MAKING AND KEEPING NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

Only 8 percent of individuals achieved their resolutions in 2016, according to Statistic Brain. This is likely due to most people having unrealistic expectations about the speed, ease and consequences of the resolutions they make. People attempting self-change rarely succeed the first time; most need five or six attempts, according to a paper published in American Psychologist by Janet Polivy and Peter Herman. The authors suggest false hope syndrome is the cause for failure.

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HEALTHY HOLIDAY OPTIONS

The holidays are a wonderful time to gather with family and friends to celebrate. These celebrations often consist of many delicious treats and hardy meals. You can still maintain a healthy diet with a little thought and planning in advance. Research from a recent Web-based survey found 18 percent of people feel they cannot eat healthily during the holidays because they don’t want to miss out on their favorite foods. You can still eat the foods you enjoy this season, just in moderation.

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The holidays bring joy – and sadness – to many people. On the positive side, the holidays boost health for about a month, making people feel better. The holiday spirit helps people rest, relax, improve sleep patterns, reduce blood pressure, strengthen relationships and live longer. They can even work wonders for the libido.


Now, in something of a first, scientific principles have been used to explore the extent to which holidays really do make people feel better. The results of a clinical research project found up to two-thirds of the subjects studied experienced positive results in their lives during the holiday season.


What about the other third? Holiday blues can affect individuals in a number of different ways. Those who find themselves suffering back-to-work-blues after their holiday break should take heart: Scientists found the benefits of a holiday break are physical as well as psychological and can last for a month after returning to work.


Indeed, the holiday season is a time full of joy, cheer, parties and family gatherings. However, for many people, it is also a time of self-evaluation, loneliness, reflection on past failures and anxiety about an uncertain future.




HOLIDAY HEALTH & WELLNESS: BEATING THOSE HOLIDAY BLUES

Many factors can cause the holiday blues, including stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial constraints and the inability to be with family and friends. The demands of shopping, parties, family reunions and houseguests also contribute to stress and tension. Individuals who do not become depressed may develop other stress responses, such as headaches, excessive drinking, overeating and difficulty sleeping. Even more individuals experience a post-holiday letdown after New Year’s Day. This can result from disappointments during the preceding weeks compounded with the excess fatigue and stress.


Here are some ways to cope with the blues that may come your way during or after the holidays:


DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine and Department of Gerontology, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky.

more articles by Dr thomas w. miller