December is a wonderful month. Most of us are filled with excitement and anticipation over gatherings with family and friends, special opportunities to serve, the possibility of some fun in the snow, and the sharing of gifts. I am always amazed and humbled by the kindness and generosity I witness this time of year. It seems to me this is the time of year when we see the best in most people.
One of my favorite memories of the Christmas season came when I was away from home as a young adult. My friends and I were all away from our families and feeling a little sad. We did not have money to spend on lavish gifts for each other or to throw big parties to lift our spirits. Instead, we spent the days and weeks leading up to Christmas looking for opportunities to serve others. I remember volunteering at a homeless kitchen and serving warm meals to those who otherwise would have had nothing. I remember looking into the eyes of each person as they came through the food line. I remember being filled with a sense of kinship and warmth for each of them and found my own burdens lightened as I served. I was filled with happiness and peace as I paused to consider the great blessings I enjoyed in my life. I had always been told it was better to give than to receive but that Christmas this true sentiment sank deeper into my soul than it had previously. I am grateful I have that special Christmas memory to continue to encourage within myself an attitude of gratitude and of service throughout my life.
I recognize that for some people this time of the year can be difficult. For many, the holiday season can be a time of sadness and of tender feelings. I would encourage us all to be extra vigilant in watching out for our loved ones who may be in this category. While we may be rejoicing and having fun our neighbor may be shedding tears and struggling with depression. As we engage in our various fun and festive happenings, let’s take time to consider those around us who may need some special attention. What a blessing it is to share sincere love and concern with someone whose heart is heavy. You can literally be the key to a true Christmas miracle in someone’s life by simply slowing down and taking time to consider who can use some of your time and attention. Look for those opportunities and you will not regret it.
My hope is that we all can be filled with wonderful peace and joy this holiday season. May we all have health and be filled with cheer. As you go from one activity to the next remember these three keys to keeping yourself healthy so you can maximize your enjoyment of the holidays:
-Get plenty of rest. Adults need 8 hours of sleep. Not getting enough sleep leads to fatigue, mental sluggishness, feelings of stress, which makes us more prone to illness and leads to less ability to enjoy all the fun!
-Drink Water! Stay hydrated. Even though it is cold outside we still need to drink plenty of water. In fact, the dry air, the shopping, and errands and parties and excitement all contribute to dehydration. So, keep drinking water to help keep yourself healthy. 64 ounces of water a day is a good rule to follow.
-Wash your hands. Lots of fun gatherings in warm and cozy environments leads to lots of sharing of germs amongst friends and loved ones. Protect yourself from illness by washing your hands frequently. Especially before eating and drinking.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Matthew Walton, DO
Canyon View Family Medicine