The holiday season is upon us! For many, it is a time to celebrate with family and friends, take in the sights and sounds, and enjoy the cozy feelings the season brings.
To ensure this is the most wonderful time of the year for you and your loved ones, I have put together a list of simple tips to help you thrive both now and into the year ahead.
Dr. Bill’s Top 5 Tips to Thrive During the Holidays:
1. Have a plan.
Take a walk in nature, ponder your holiday plan, and consider how you can stay on your path to enjoy vibrant physical and mental health now and in the coming year. Be mindful of what you feed your body and your mind – eat the rainbow, savor a few holiday treats, and make meaningful connections with others. Find what works for YOU. Prioritize what you love most about the season – whether that’s making cookies with your children or grandchildren, volunteering at a local charity, or simply enjoying a cozy spot by the fireplace. Having a plan in place means you can stress less and make the season merrier.
2. Keep your immune system strong.
When a patient asks me, “Dr. Bill, what is the smartest thing I can do to keep healthy this holiday season and throughout the next year?” I reply, “Have a healthy immune system.”
Did you know that the best medicine to fight against germs and disease is the kind you make inside your body? NK, or natural killer, cells are the trillions of white blood cells that circulate throughout your body. They patrol for germs, seek viruses that don’t belong there, and destroy them before they can harm you. Keeping your NK cells strong is crucial to avoiding short and long-terms illness.
During the holidays, it can be challenging to remain mindful of what our bodies need to stay strong and vibrant. All the tools in this article, in addition to providing other health benefits, will help you keep your immune system strong so that you can spread joy (not germs) this holiday.
3. Move more, outside, with music.
Move more. Movement mobilizes your immune system. When you move, your blood flows faster over the lining of your blood vessels sending a message to your NK cells to get up and go! Movement helps to circulate NK cells throughout your body to get rid of foreign germs more efficiently. A basic principle of health we teach at DSWI is that every organ of your body is only as healthy as the blood flow to it.
Better movement = better blood flow = better health
Take your activity outdoors. Exercise neuroscientists describe movement in nature as “exercise squared.” Here’s why: movement not only creates more brain cells, it also triggers stress relief. The muted colors and calming sounds found in nature trigger the roots of the brain planted thousands of years ago when humans spent our lives outdoors. It is as though the brain pathways remember , “This is how I grew up. Welcome back. I feel good!”
Dance your cares away. One of our favorite holiday exercises is dancing together. Beside the healing effects of touch, you will enjoy a shared connection, physical exercise that’s fun, and the benefit of stress relief. Neuroscience reveals that music triggers relaxing brain waves similar to those you enjoy when falling asleep or when you meditate. Music pleasantly diverts your attention away from worrisome thoughts and into the happy centers of your brain that register “like!” Move to the music and enjoy brain boosting and immune boosting benefits.
4. Start your day the grateful way.
Develop an attitude of gratitude…and an attitude of quietude. Slow down. Time is the most precious gift. Give yourself the time to reflect on what is good in your life. No matter how life stinks, and it does sometimes, we all have a few things to be thankful for.
Weather permitting, you might consider beginning your day with a movement meditation outdoors. Find a mantra that works for you, and synchronize your words with your walking steps. Starting the day with movement and positive reflection will set you up to remember your reason for enjoying this season.
5. Fill your “museum” with happy photos.
Where attention flows, brain tissue grows. This holiday, make a point to grow your happy center by curating your personal “museum” with things that make you smile. Decorate your home and workplace with your favorite photos that trigger positive memories such as a romantic adventure, your children, your pet, a favorite vacation and so on. A happy disposition promotes longevity, which means visiting your “museum” will help you “repeat the sounding joy” now and for years to come.
Wishing you a happy, healthy holiday and new year.
– Dr Bill Sears and the DSWI Family