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Creating New Holiday Traditions

by Robert Taibbi, LCSW

Finally, it’s important that in your enthusiasm you don’t take on too much all at once. Change is great, but too much too fast will leave you overloaded and burned out. Here are some tips to keep you mentally and physically balanced:

Take care of your health. The holidays, with the change in routines, the stress, and the array of food and drink, make it easy to slip away from healthy diabetes management. Watch your diet, and continue your exercise. If you feel good physically, it’s easier to feel better mentally and be able to appreciate the joys the holidays bring.

Keep up your routines. It’s not only your diabetes routines that are important. Everyday routines — taking the dog for a walk, reading the paper after breakfast, going for a walk around the block before dinner, calling your daughter on Sunday mornings — all the things you normally do during the day or week help keep you emotionally grounded and reduce the stress of change. Even if you plan to change your locale or activities during the holidays, bring some of your home habits with you. Build them into your daily schedule when making your plans.

Find time to unwind. Even with routines you may find yourself getting tired or more cranky than you normally would, signs and symptoms of the normal stress that accompanies change. Find time to relax and unwind with a cup of chamomile tea in the afternoon, some quiet time reading your favorite book after lunch, a 20-minute rest while the dinner is cooking or before you go out for the evening. While it’s good to stay active, small periods of rest and quiet spaced out during the day can keep your energy and mood at their peak.

Allow yourself to change your mind. One of the tricks to enjoying yourself is recognizing and admitting when you’re not. While going out to a big New Year’s party at your neighbor’s house may have sounded great a month ago, your enthusiasm may have waned as you turn the corner on the third week of the get-togethers and drop-ins. Be flexible and give yourself permission to change your mind, to stay home and rent a video or go out for a quiet dinner, if that seems to better fit how you’d like to spend your time. Feeling trapped by commitments and plans that aren’t what you want keep your holiday from truly being your holiday.

Take time to appreciate what you have. Throughout history, end-of-the-year holidays have been celebrations in the fullest sense of the word — occasions to remember and appreciate the accomplishments of the past year, to acknowledge the contributions of those who have gone before, to look forward to the new year with all the wonder and opportunities that it holds.

Unfortunately, many people find themselves focusing on their mistakes, their regrets, the “didn’t haves” and the “might have beens.” If this seems to be your inclination, try making an extra effort to notice the positive aspects of the past year. Acknowledge and appreciate your accomplishments and contributions, no matter how small, all that you have and had, no matter how minor it may seem, your connection to others close to you, so easy to take for granted. If you are religious or spiritual, use this time to reaffirm the ever-present power of forgiveness and rebirth, to renew and recall the unique purpose of the wondrous journey that is your life, to take time and celebrate all that is you.

The best holiday ever
The mixture of emotions and memories that we all carry within us during the holiday season makes the natural changes in our lives stand out in bold relief. But each holiday season brings with it the opportunity to create something new, to rediscover parts of ourselves or our past that have been forgotten for too long. Make this holiday the best ever, a season that captures your spirit, your hopes, your dreams for the new year to come.

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