Columbia, SC Edition
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Finding JOY and PEACE During Tough Seasons

The holidays aren’t always joyous and jolly for everyone. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one, are in a new location away from loved ones, are single, or are navigating with difficulty through multiple celebrations due to a divorce. For those feeling blue this holiday season, there are several things that can be done to take care of oneself. Self-care is always important, but especially so when you’re struggling. If you’re feeling less than celebratory right now, focus on the five key aspects of health to make the most of the holiday season. They are nutrition, exercise, detox, stress reduction and hormones.

            It might seem obvious, but it is very important to eat right and to get some physical activity. It’s also helpful to take a good probiotic. Many people are not aware of the gut-brain connection; when bacterial levels in the gastrointestinal tract are imbalanced, it can affect one’s mood. Drinking plenty of water and being as active as possible help not only the body but the mind and spirit as well. One should also limit or completely abstain from alcohol, caffeine, sugar and high-carb foods.

            Decluttering one’s living space or engaging in a productive project can be very beneficial as well. I like putting together puzzles, something my mother and I used to do together every Christmas. Consider doing something new, or simply enjoy the company of friends. Creating a self-nurturing environment with music, candles, aromatic scents, or photos can trigger happy memories and inspired reflection.

            Media, electronics and television can be very distracting. It is important to detox the mind and to resist negative self-talk while surrounding oneself with positivity, which includes positive people. Also learning to say “no” helps one to stay mentally aligned.

            Balancing stress is vital. Daily journaling, especially a gratitude journal, can be very helpful. Writing down three to five things that you are grateful for each night and reflecting on them is a wonderful way to stay positive. Volunteering, time spent outdoors, and exercise are other great stress reducers. Breathing exercises (slow, centered breathing 20 minutes a day) while sitting up can help improve sleep, which is vitally important during times of stress. Some people experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) due to the shorter days and reduced sunlight. SAD, as the acronym suggests, really impacts one’s mood. Sitting within 3 feet of a 300-watt bulb for 20 minutes three times a day can help to combat the disorder.

            Lastly, one should consider seeing an integrative holistic or functional medicine practitioner to have one’s hormones evaluated. Hormone imbalance, including but not limited to progesterone, thyroid and cortisol, can also affect one’s mood significantly. A practitioner may suggest the use of supplements, such as fish oil and herbal options, to balance one’s mood and hormone levels, moderate stress, and detox the body. Therapeutic modalities, like essential oils; yoga; cognitive behavioral therapy; CranioSacral Therapy; bodywork; and energy therapy, like BEMER, may also be recommended. Citrus oils are excellent for lifting one’s mood, and lavender oil is effective in mood balancing and sleep.

            It is possible to enjoy the holidays even in the face of challenges. And by following these helpful pointers, peace, joy and happiness may become the most important gifts that you receive this holiday season. Take a breather and take care of yourself!

For more information, call Expect Wellness, located at 130 Suber Rd., Ste. D, Columbia, at 803-796-1702. Also visit 

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