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Look at the little things

October 9, 2010

Big events are so exciting, and a great break from our normal routines that give us refreshment. However, as the last float goes by and the amusement rides begin packing up, a nostalgia wafts through the air that much resembles the end of Christmas Day.

As the old saying goes, "All good things must come to an end" and that comes into play here. Below are some creative ways to get back into the groove of the ordinary week after the festivities are over.

Create an oasis of calm for you and your family. Enjoy the quiet through reading, board games or a quiet meal. As wonderful as a festival may be, quiet, it is not. Did you know it has been proven that we can have overload in the forms of noise and/or information? Technology is part to blame, though ya gotta love it, but the constant bombardment of noise can overwork the nervous system. So create some sort of oasis of calm. Build a fire in your firepit and just sit and watch the flames. Roast some marshmallows and sip some apple cider.

Change one unhealthy thing about yourself this week. If fair food was your daily routine, you may notice a tad bit of poundage that is accompanying you now. Decide your menu for the week and choose healthy foods. Your tastebuds will need to readjust, but your arteries will thank you later. Maybe you are like me as you think about your exercise routine, and realize it is somewhat non-existent. I smile as I remember the days of bicycling miles and miles pulling the boys in a little cart behind me. I chuckle because as I look at the boys, I realize how very long ago that was. Also, my workout time with Denise Austin on VHS tape hints at the decade that has past. Exercise is the enemy of depression and releases endorphins that make you feel great. Let's take a two-week challenge and change our diet and renew that membership at the YMCA or whatever you need to do to continue or begin again.

Stop or limit one unhealthy behavior this week. For many it may be junk food and for others it is adult beverages, drugs, smoking, or a sedentary lifestyle. Seek help if you need it. Absolutely nothing is worth you being taken from your loved ones early ... nothing. The end of festivities could be the beginning of a new lease on life for you. Maybe you've totally neglected socializing. Instead of alone time, you could need people time. It has been proven over and over that folks who have a wide social circle live longer. For some, the unhealthy habit might be seclusion. Though not uncommon, it is easier for some to stay alone than to spend time with people. Getting out of your shell and reconnecting or connecting with people is an excellent way to improve your mood and overall health.

Be kind to others and to yourself. It is relatively easy to be kind to others, isn't it? Reaching out to others gives us that "helpers high." At least for most folks it is somewhat easy. However, when it comes to being kind to ourselves, well, not so much.

Dr. Frank Minirth tells this story: "Think of having a duplicate you with you all day long. What if you talked to your twin the way you talked to yourself? And you talked to them like that all day long? At the end of the day your duplicate person might say: 'You have criticized me all day even over minor mistakes. You refuse to forgive me. Please let me go. I can't take it anymore.' You may laugh, but the way we talk to ourselves affects us just as surely as the way others talk to us. Why not be kind to yourself? Why not let up on yourself?"

Regain your schedule. Children and adults thrive with a schedule. We all need it. Ask any mom whose children are off on Christmas break, and she will admit that by Jan. 2 she is excited to have a schedule once again. Flexibility is important to any plan, but schedule brings structure, stability, comfort and security into our lives. I know a retired couple nearing their 80s who still get up at the same time they did when the man was working a job. They still eat at exactly the same time and go to bed as planned. Now that much of a rigid schedule may not be for you, but the fact remains that it is healthy not to have some structure in our lives.

Regain your faith walk. Studies have proven that a person who considers their relationship with God important in their life, lives longer, is happier and is more content than someone who does not. Reading the Bible, praying and attending church is vital to our faith walk. Do you want to begin your day off happy? Quote or read scripture first thing in the morning. Then, think about it. Talk to God. Pray the scriptures and you will find the peace and tranquillity you crave.

How about you? Will you take the two-week challenge with me? The festivities may be over, but there is always something to look forward to, changes we can make, and improvements we can experience to give us a new and better normal than we had before the festival.

(Kimberly Short-Wolfe, MA, is a homeschool mom and the grief counselor/bereavement coordinator and a chaplain for Mountain Hospice. To contact her, e-mail or call 304-823-3925, ext. 136.)



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