Tis the season of more. Everywhere we look there are fresh enticements. More food; more things; better liquor; more advanced gadgets and gizmos. It's as it you can never have enough.
In our quest for "more" it's tempting to put off taking care of ourselves until after the holidays have passed. However, waiting until New Year's to start those healthy living resolutions can have very serious consequences. Here are four incentives to start taking steps towards healthier behavior "just for today." You'll have less of a mess to clean up on January 2nd.
Kick-starting healthier behavior now will benefit you in these 4 Major Ways:
1. You'll improve your relationship with your family.
I once knew someone whose alcohol consumption was beginning to noticeably impact him. He said he would consider going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting after New Year's because he didn't think he could get through the season without a drink. He ended up not getting through the season at all because he was killed in a drunken driving accident.
Obviously this decision for later impacted his life and his family's life forever. For people with "more" problems, it really is a gift for their families to not have to worry about them drinking "more" or eating "more" or buying "more" over the holidays.
2. You'll handle stress better.
Stress during the holidays is inevitable. Reacting negatively and suffering is optional. You're actually better prepared to deal with stress if you don't overdo it.
Find healthy ways of managing anxiety and coping with the hustle and bustle of the holidays to put you one step ahead in the New Year. You will have already started growing and more importantly you will have less of a mess to clean up later.
3. You'll actually save money.
It's never fun to start a new year with new or more debt. Instead of pushing yourself to the limit with buying things, keep it simple and find more meaningful ways to celebrate.
For example, make a commitment as an individual or family to give the gift of time to others in need by volunteering. Send a heartfelt snail mail letter or card to family/friends thanking them in detail for the impact they made on your life.
4. You'll get a head start in practicing "just for today."
What better time to practice being in the moment than when you're surrounded by the temptation for "more." Mindfulness is the art of paying attention to the moment. Paying attention to the people you are with. What are they really saying? If it's something that's worth doing it's worth your attention. Even if it's eating, drinking, shopping, or other temptations that go with the holiday season. If you pay attention and don't rush through it, you'll feel fulfilled much more quickly and will be less likely to overdo it in all areas. The holidays are about connections, not about "more."
If you find that you or a loved one are really struggling with staying in balance, don't wait to seek out support. Whether it's an individual therapist, community, friends or a 12 step meeting, there are ways to really make it a special season.
Addiction doesn't take a holiday and for some, it gets worse during the holidays. Starting recovery from "more" is a real gift to all. Let's make a commitment to this "just for today."
Brenda Iliff is the Clinical Director at Caron Texas, a leading nonprofit addiction treatment center and part of the Caron Treatment Centers continuum of care.