Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Well Together Challenge, Week Three: Staying Happy

Welcome to week three of my project with Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare and Nancy from FitMamaEats. As I stated in week one, these posts are a way to start a conversation about how people can stay active, happy and healthy. I thought this was the perfect time of year to concentrate on the "happy" part of this little experiment. As Nancy pointed out in her post about curing winter blahs, winters here in New England can be hard on our health... in more ways than one.

A lot of people struggle with the many stresses of the holiday season. Many suffer from some sort of seasonal mood swings. It is a notorious time of the year for people who have suffered losses to really grapple with stress management.

I have many different ways that I combat the stress that can overwhelm some during these short December days.

1. Of course exercise is more pertinent now than ever. As the Mayo Clinic points out, "exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries." So, I will continue on my endeavor to Zumba my tushy away whether rain, shine, snow, sleet or dark of night!

 2. MUSIC! This is my personal absolute favorite mood-enhancing, stress reliever I practice. I have certain Pandora stations that I have queued up ready to make me move... dance... hum... and generally... smile. Music just boosts moods. Period.

3. Get fresh air. As I mentioned in week #2, we have some great weather here for December. And we have taken advantage of every moment. But even if it were not unseasonably warm, we would still be hiking, snowshoeing, sledding... anything to get out, get fresh air, get sunshine and get the blood pumping. Take a moment away from high stress shopping, family feuds, anxiety-ridden travel and take a walk!

4. Get rest. Trust me, I know all too well... you have kids, jobs, cards to send, gifts to buy, cookies to bake, homes to clean... but it can all be done with a much better attitude if you simply get the sleep you need. Make sure to get to bed at a reasonable hour. Day after day of short-changed sleep completely destroys your overall mood. It is just not healthy.

5. One of my person favorites... Connect!!! Take time out to meet with a friend and unwind. No excuses. Find the time! You need to vent... to decompress. Whether over a coffee or a beer, you need that companionship, that human interaction. My last connection was a beer with a friend at 9 o'clock on a Thursday night since that was the ONLY time I was free. (Okay, okay... that definitely cut into the theory of #4 since I only got 5 hours of sleep that night before getting up for work the next morning... I haven't got this all mastered, ok??) How good do you feel after just one hour of laughing... sharing... commiserating with a friend? Those are the relationships that most often fall away as we nurture our families, but we need them for our sanity. We need them even more during times like these where we are stressed, overwhelmed.

Do you have any ideas on ways to decompress during this time of year?

I’ve partnered with Harvard Pilgrim on this sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more ways to be well at HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn.

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