by Chelsey Corrigan, ND

The holiday season is a time of celebration, good company, food and drink and relaxation. However, for some of us this time of year can also be very stressful and inherently difficult. Indulging in rich foods and alcohol contributes to gaining a few additional pounds; family tensions can make the season feel a little less festive; and the chaos of traveling can consume our already hectic schedules.

kindnessThroughout it all it is important that we don’t allow the inevitable stresses of the season to inhibit the spirit of the holidays from permeating our being. Each challenge in life presents us with an opportunity to learn and evolve into our better self. This month, I would like to share with you some simple tips to make your holidays happy and healthy. . . and it starts with being kind.

Firstly, experience the simple joys of being kind to others. Most of us have experienced the exhilarating warmth that spreads throughout our bodies when we do good deeds for others. When we make things a little easier for those around us, we are overcome by feelings of happiness. So, why not give the gift of kindness this holiday season? It will benefit others and you!

Give up your parking spot at the mall, give money to the homeless, volunteer/donate at the local food bank, shovel your neighbor’s driveway, tell your family how much they mean to you, take your dog for an extra long walk, or offer to do the holiday dishes. By doing just a single kind deed for another individual you will experience a strong positive shift in both your body and mind that will contribute to you feeling happier and healthier!

Secondly, remember during this season of heavy consumption to be kind to the environment. Whether we are putting the extra kilometers on the car and increasing our greenhouse gas production, wrapping gifts with fancy, often disposable paper, or throwing out excess food that our belts won’t allow the holidays is a time of excesses that can leave quite the ecological footprint.

Some gifts you can give to mother earth this season? Consider buying organic fruits; veggies and turkeys; putting your Christmas lights on timers; wearing an extra sweater allowing you to turn down the thermostat a few degrees; or maybe saving that fancy gift wrap for next year. Any small adjustment in the way we consume over the holidays can create major changes environmentally which is something that should make us (and our children) all feel good!

Lastly, it is most important to be kind to yourself. By being kind to yourself you are more likely to make decisions that are healthier for you that contribute to a stronger sense of wellbeing. It becomes very difficult to take care of those we love over the holidays when we do not feel taken care of ourselves. . . so attempt to do those things that will make a difference personally.

happinessTry to cook healthy and nourishing foods; limit/substitute sugars, wheat and desserts; get out for a 30 min walk daily; drink plenty of water; get to bed early; do something daily that you enjoy (baths, reading, yoga, etc); and always remember to rest and relax!

I encourage many of my patients to start a Happiness Journal. This daily activity takes only minutes and can quickly and profoundly shift your perspective and open your heart. Simply incorporate the following activities and journal entries into your everyday practice:

1) list three things you are grateful for

2) name one positive event from the day

3) recall one random act of conscious kindness you provided for someone else. In addition, attempt to build meditation into your life and appreciate your body’s ability to move and exercise!

How many times have you asked yourself, “What’s in it for me?” This holiday season, I invite you to be kind to others, the environment and most importantly, yourself. Making positive change in the world starts within each and every one of us. The energy of being kind will not only permeate our own bodies, but those around us as well. Let’s bring in the holiday season and 2013 with a radiant, happy, and healthy glow!

Happy Holidays,

Chelsey Corrigan, N