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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•  Try simplifying your life – Set reasonable goals for yourself and remove obligations when possible. Allow yourself to do less when you feel low.


•  Eat healthfully – If depression tends to make you overeat, get your eating under control. There is evidence that foods with omega- 3 fatty acids, such as tuna and salmon, and folic acid, such as avocado and spinach, can help ease depression.


•  Get enough sleep – Depression can make it hard to get good sleep, so try going to bed and getting up at the same time daily. Remove all distractions such as the computer and TV from your bedroom and try not to nap during the day.


•  Move vigorously during the day – Research indicates regular exercise can be as effective as medication for relieving depression symptoms and helps prevent relapse once you are well. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise daily; it doesn’t have to be all at once. A 10-minute walk can improve your mood for two hours.


•  Visit reputable Web sites and read self-help books – Find books and Web sites that will help you educate yourself about depression.

Depression can make you feel helpless, but along with some medication and therapy, you can do a lot on your own to deal with it.


Changing your way of thinking, your behavior, your physical activity and lifestyle are all natural ways to cope with depression. It’s more like a Catch-22: Recovering from depression requires action, but taking action when you’re depressed is tough. So start with whatever resources you have. You may not have much energy, but you may have enough to pick up the phone to call a loved one or take a short walk around the block.


There are many other ways to deal with depression, and often they are best used in combination with each other. The primary options are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), antidepressant medication and, in some severe cases, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Education and coping strategies are also important when working to manage your depression.


After consulting with your doctor, you can begin trying various coping skills, including the following tips:


•  Start keeping a journal – As part of your treatment, journaling could improve your mood by allowing you to express anger, fear, pain or any other emotion.

DEALING WITH DEPRESSION

HARLEENA SINGH

Harleena Singh is a professional freelance writer with a background in teaching and education. She has a keen interest in food and health related issues and can be approached through her website freelancewriter.co. Checkout her blog and network with her on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

more articles by harleena singh


•  Don’t isolate yourself – Participate in get-togethers and social activities with family or friends. Join support groups where you can find people to connect with, who face similar challenges and are willing to share their experiences.


•  Find helpful groups – Many organizations such as the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (www.dbsalliance.org) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (www.nami.org) offer counseling, support groups, education and other resources to help with depression. On the National Institute of Mental Health Web site (www.nimh.nih.gov), there is a list of outreach partners. Some of these partners sponsor support groups for different mental disorders, including depression.


•  Find ways to relax – You could try yoga, tai chi, meditation or progressive muscle relaxation.


•  Don’t drink too much alcohol – For some people, alcohol can become a problem because they tend to drink more as a way to cope with or hide their emotions. However, alcohol doesn’t solve problems and may make you feel more depressed.


•  Expose yourself to sunlight daily – Lack of sunlight can worsen depression. Enjoy a meal outside, take a short walk outdoors or just sit in a garden. Aim for at least 15 minutes of sunlight each day to boost your mood.


•  Avoid making important decisions when you are down – Don’t make decisions when you feel depressed or down because you may not be able to think clearly.


•  Structure your time and plan your day – It helps if you make a list of daily tasks and use a planner or sticky notes as reminders to stay organized.


•  Do something new and have fun – Being depressed puts you in a rut. Push yourself to try something different, such as reading a book on a park bench, visiting a museum, taking a language class, volunteering at a soup kitchen, going to a movie, visiting friends, etc. Trying new things alters your level of dopamine, the brain chemical associated with enjoyment, learning and pleasure.


These tips are based on a comprehensive approach that helps you get support while making lifestyle changes and reversing negative thinking. You will soon feel better if you continue to take positive steps daily. However, if you find your depression is not improving, be sure to seek professional help.