Tuesday, December 22, 2015

3 Ways to have good winter holidays....

Today's Post:  Tuesday, 12-22-2015

(This is an upgrade of last year’s post.  I liked it then and still think well of it now!
And the upgrades are substantial.)

This post is to celebrate the holidays of mid-winter.

How can you have good ones?

A.  The peoples of Northern Europe all celebrated this time of year for two reasons.

1.  One is that they knew that at this time of year the sun stopped acting like it would disappear and would gradually begin to return and spring and summer would follow.

This generalized into the very hopeful message that

“….bad times are temporary and good times always return again.”

Take that to heart and live it and celebrate it this time of year and your whole life will be better.

Martin Seligman, PhD and others have found that this belief and its parts creates good mental health, a happier life and people who are more effective and successful on the average than people who don’t.

So this reminder to do so every year is a very valuable and reality based way to celebrate it and live it!

2.  In their time, agriculture and food supplies were a bit iffy and in the cold weather, lack of food could cause people to freeze or die of malnutrition.

So the tradition arose to gather together for warmth and help and for those with food surpluses to share some of it.

The groups who did so, outsurvived those who did not.  So the tradition has lasted!

And so, in more modern times, families often gather together at this time of year.

There are two ways to make your family gatherings go as well as possible.

First is to treat them as Seligman’s optimists do.  Problems are temporary and bad actions have specific causes that can be fixed or which may not repeat.  And good things tend to be permanent.

So be forgiving and treat people with love and caring; and if there are problems hope next time will be better.

Many times if you show you care and treat people as their best selves, they act more in that way and everyone is happier!

The second way is to be what one brilliant man called an encourager instead of hoping to be an encouragee.

Everyone would like to be treated as their best self and for the people they meet and their family to be interested in them and encourage them and support them.

As the Quaker’s might say, “This includes me and thee.”

But people who stop there often don’t get what they want and need particularly at family gatherings.

The much better news is that if you proactively take the initiative and do those things for the others in the group or in your family--

-- whether they reciprocate or not, YOU will feel better and be a more worthwhile member of the group.

It takes practice and isn’t perfect even when people are skilled at it.  But it can make and has made an enormous positive difference to the people who learn to do it and almost always do it!

The best news is that whether or not others do it for you is not under your direct control. But choosing to be an encourager and doing it IS under your control.

I find that good news indeed!

So here’s hoping your holidays go well.

B. It helps to feel good mentally and physically this time of year.  But some people don’t and get SAD, seasonal affective disorder, a feeling of depression due to lack of sunlight.

If that happens to you at all or this year, here are some things that do work to do to remove it!

1.  My reading of the research suggests that taking 7,000 iu a day of vitamin D3 year round in today’s world of inside work and recreation is critical to maintain good health and gives you the level of vitamin D3 people got from sunshine when they went outside in earlier times.

(This is an upgrade from 3,000 iu last year because it now looks like the real optimum intake of vitamin D3 now is 7,000 to 10,000 iu a day.)

2.  In the Northern Hemisphere, Mike Geary, earlier in 2014, wrote a brilliant article showing that at this time of year you had to live somewhere like Key West Florida or farther South to get ANY of the kind of sun’s rays needed to create sunshine caused vitamin D3 and people in these areas that do not can ONLY have enough by supplementing. 

So, for good health, let alone feeling good, it also looks like taking at least 10,000 iu a day from about the first of October to the first of March is also very important.  (This is an upgrade from 5,000 iu last year because it now looks like the real optimum intake of vitamin D3 now is 7,000 to 10,000 iu a day.

Also, it may make sense to take 20,000 or 30,000 iu of vitamin D3 the first few days if you haven’t been taking any at all to bring your blood level up sooner. 

Also new since last year! 

We now know that taking this much D3 increases the level of serotonin in your brain.   The anti-depressants that were once thought to do this do NOT.  They raise the blood level instead where the extra serotonin causes side effects instead of making you feel better. 

So, if more brain levels of serotonin will help you feel better and with very low sunlight it likely does, take vitamin D3!)

3.  SAD is diagnostic I think of lack of vitamin D3.  So, if you get it, you likely need to take that much vitamin D3.  It will protect your health; and it will likely help you feel better too.

Also, other components of sunshine and light may have anti depressant effects and walking definitely does.  So if it’s safe, take a 20 minute walk or so around solar noon too! 

Astonishingly, even in gloomy daylight light monitors for photography show it can be 20 times brighter outside than it is inside!

One man who has seriously depressed did this on rainy days around Noon on a cruise ship.  His fellow passengers thought he was a bit loony.  But he went from quiet and quite depressed to energetic, friendly, and outgoing and always in a good mood. 

Besides the light, we now know that this regular walking grows new brain cells particularly in the part of the brain that connects the other parts, the white matter.  And we know that this sharply improves the person’s optimism, proactivity, and ability to think on their feet.

4.  Regular exercise, positive socializing – see above; and eating wild caught fish at least once or twice a week; and taking both a daily omega 3 supplement and a DHA supplement has been shown to reduce depression.

If the depression is from damaged brain cells, each of these has a restorative effect.  And, the research shows from brain scans when these are done well and the regeneration shows up, the depression improves too.  This also works for many cases of PTSD, so it’s a very powerful combination effect.

 So if this time of year, you feel depressed, be sure to do them!

5.  There are also “light boxes” that you can buy and use first thing every morning this time of year that also work well for some people.

(That may also be why lunchtime walks in mid-Winter works so well.)

I find that good news indeed!

So here’s hoping your holidays go well!

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