The Joy of Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season

The Joy of Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season

By: Holly L. Thacker, MD • Posted on November 27, 2013

Kicking off the Holiday Season

Tonight marks the beginning of several holidays: It is the beginning of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights and Feast of Dedication that lasts for eight days and nights. Tonight is also the Eve of Thanksgiving, the great American holiday which was declared as an official holiday by President George Washington in 1789. Our first President declared a day of national Thanksgiving for our new country to render unto God our "sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection."

Finally, it is the beginning of the Holiday Season with Christmas less than a month away. The last several weeks of the year mark great celebrations.

Holidays can be joyous times to gather with friends and family, to celebrate traditions and give thanks for our many blessings. It can be a time to visit loved ones and to reach out to others in our communities and places of worship. The holiday season can also be a time for stress, time crunches, overeating and overspending. So how can you stay happy and healthy and make the most of your holidays?

7 Holiday Health Tips

  1. Remember the reason for the season. Faith, family, country and simple reaffirmation of our love for our family and friends make up the heart and soul of our holiday celebrations.
  2. Don’t overeat and regret what you’ve eaten. Take the time to chew and enjoy the holiday food and festivities. Mother was right! Don’t be a gulper. Take time to chew, savor the delicious foods, sample and taste the desserts in small amounts. And remember, it’s always nice to eat yummy leftovers later. Put your fork down and engage in some lively discussion.
  3. Don’t overspend. Stay within your budget. Remember it is your time and attention, making memories and remembering cherished family memories that make the Holidays special, not the material aspects.
  4. Keep to routines. Regular sleep and exercise are important not just for young ones, but family members of all ages. Be sure to take prescribed medicines on time and do not indulge in excessive alcohol, caffeine, sugar and processed high fat, high salt foods.
  5. Practice saying ‘no’ to non-essentials. Pace yourself and realize that it may be impossible to fit in all parties, events, community volunteering and hostings you would like to do. My girlfriend Sylvia gave me a precious gift recently, a small plate with a bubbly smiling woman saying, “Please stop me before I volunteer again.”
  6. Ask family members about their medical history. When gathering with family members, specifically blood relatives, it may be an opportune time to politely ask about medical histories as they can be very informative for your physician.
  7. Seek help for holiday blues. If you are prone to feeling blue or even depressed during the winter holidays, be sure to seek treatment as there are many options for those with seasonal affective disorders (SAD).

Be sure to focus on all you have to be thankful for. Take a moment to give thanks to the brave men and women overseas in our armed forces who are spending the holidays away from their loved ones, potentially in harm’s way to protect our American way of life.

From my family to yours, may you enjoy good tidings and great joy with your loved ones.

Happy Chanukah, Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

-Holly L. Thacker, M.D.

Holly L. Thacker, MD, FACP is nationally known for her leadership in women’s health. She is the founder of the Cleveland Clinic Women’s Health Fellowship and is currently the Professor and Director of the Center for Specialized Women’s Health at Cleveland Clinic and Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. Her special interests are menopause and related medical problems including osteoporosis, hormone therapy, breast cancer risk assessment, menstrual disorders, female sexual dysfunction and interdisciplinary women’s health. Dr. Thacker is the Executive Director of Speaking of Women’s Health and the author of The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Menopause.

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