Healthy Tahoe: Ways to avoid the holiday blues
“Mocktail” Recipe: Cranberry Lime Fizz
Whip up this refreshing alternative to an alcoholic beverage for a festive occasion or holiday treat. Designed to serve one, the ingredients can be increased and mixed in a pitcher for company.
½ cup cranberry juice, 100% juice blend (or use pomegranate, raspberry, or apple juice)
1½ tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice, plus lime wedge for garnish
½ tsp. vanilla extract ice
½ cup seltzer water 4 to 5 fresh cranberries, or about 1 tbsp.
In a large glass, measure out cranberry juice, 1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lime juice, and vanilla extract. Stir with a spoon. Place ice in a serving glass, then pour cranberry juice mixture over ice. Mix in seltzer water. Drizzle remaining ½ teaspoon of lime juice on top, rub lime wedge around rim of glass, then add lime wedge to edge of glass or put into glass. Place fresh cranberries in drink as garnish. Serve immediately.
The holiday season can be a happy and joyous time, bringing family and friends together. But for some, it can be stressful and lonely, leading to symptoms of depression.
When stress is at its peak, unhealthy behaviors, such as drinking alcohol, using drugs, and overeating, tend to take over. Though people use these behaviors to cope and escape difficult emotions, they tend to make things worse.
Stress and depression during the holidays can be reduced and even prevented by following a few practical tips. Identifying holiday triggers, like financial pressure or personal demands, can also help. With some planning, the holiday season can be more manageable:
Keep expectations realistic. You may feel pressure to take on more tasks than you have energy for or give more gifts than you can afford. Overextending yourself and not being able to follow through can make you feel worse. It’s OK to say no. Only commit to those things you know you’ll be able to do.
Make time for exercise. Not only does exercise keep your body healthy, it protects your mind. When you’re active, your brain releases chemicals that improve your mood and decrease stress. Experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, each week.
Talk to someone. You don’t have to go through the season alone. You’ll feel better if you talk it out with someone close to you. That person may also help you think of your problems in a new way or recommend solutions you haven’t considered. If your feelings persist, consider talking with your doctor or a mental health professional. Depression can be treated.
Take care of yourself. When you treat your body right, you’re able to deal with problems more easily. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Avoid sugar and caffeine – they can cause a dip in your energy level and leave you feeling worse. Eat health-boosting foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
Follow healthy habits you already have: take a walk, read a book, listen to music. Taking breaks throughout the day can help clear your mind, slow your breathing, and restore your inner calm to help you have a healthier holiday season.
Marianna Randolph, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker at the Barton Center for Orthopedics & Wellness. To learn about the variety of wellness services available through Barton Health, including mindfulness classes, visit BartonOrthopedicsAndWellness.com or call 530-539-6600.