Embracing gratitude has many health benefits. We all have bad things happen to us, some worse than others, but if we are able to start our day giving thanks for our blessings, it will impact our mood dramatically. For me, Christmas is a hard time because it will only be my second Christmas without my father whom I was very close to. However, instead of dwelling on my pain, I choose to remember all the beautiful gifts he gave everyone he knew. His spirit fills our Christmas table with joy and reminds us to always be kind to one another. In addition to his wonderful lessons, I would like to pass on my own advice for this holiday season:

Do Not Sweat the Small Things
We hear this a lot, but why is it so important? Plain and simple, making a big deal out of small things causes stress and anxiety, and we all know that stress kills you. Not literally in the moment of course, but over time it adds up and takes a toll on your health. Every time we stress over something minimal our cortisol levels spike up 10 to 15 percent.
If you are late for Christmas party, stuck in traffic or burnt the Apple cobbler, it is not important. Look at the big picture instead. We always make it a bigger deal in our head than what the actual outcome is. When I lose something of value, my son looks at me and says, “Mom I feel bad.” I always reply, “It’s not an arm or a leg, let’s not lose our marbles” and we laugh.

Keep Moving
Instead of using Christmas to sit around and eat all day, encourage the family to take a walk after breakfast and dinner. Keep the phones at home and enjoy each other’s company while moving. Not only will you digest your food better, your walk will help boost your mood and you will get better sleep after dinner if you get some activity in.

Eat Breakfast
A mistake I commonly see, especially during the holidays, is that people tend to skip meals in order to “save room” for the big Christmas dinner or party. This is a big no-no because it will make you have such a huge appetite at dinner that you will be ready to eat your guests (joking, of course), but you get my point. If you eat a healthy breakfast and reasonable lunch, you will keep your cravings in check. Instead of wanting to eat everything you see, you will have an easier time controlling your food intake while still enjoying the dinner.

Eat the Cake
I always encourage you to be mindful when eating but not to deprive yourself. Stay in tune with your body and your cravings. Instead of feeling guilty about eating amazing food, enjoy it, you can have the cake too. That is, if you are really craving it! What I like to do is always try everything, but I only have a few bites of delicious, indulgent food. Basically, I load up on the healthy stuff first, but let myself try the cake too. That way I feel full and satisfied.
Hopefully these tips will help you have a healthy and happy holiday season.