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Dr. Steve’s Surprising Christmas Celebration Wellness Plan

If this were a normal health and wellness blog, I would use this pre-Christmas space to make you feel guilty for your unhealthy indulgences of your favorite traditional holiday foods.

After all, Christmas is a time for rice cakes and water and guilt, right?

Hardly.

I won’t do that to you.

Instead, I want to encourage you to celebrate Christmas with enthusiasm (even if it means a few extra calories on your plate).

Don’t Miss Out On Christmas!

Maybe you were like me growing up.

When I was a boy, I could sense Christmas coming all the way from Halloween.

I spent November and December watching the calendar, counting down the school days until Winter Break. I loved it when the craft projects at school transitioned from turkeys to wreaths and trees. I looked forward to sweaters and scarves. Christmas wasn’t a day; it was weeks of fun.

I reveled in the magical qualities of the Christmas season — the anticipation, the special meals, the traditions. When it was over, I hung in the afterglow of it all until the last decorations went back into storage.

But several years ago, I began to notice a change in myself: I realized that Christmas was sneaking up on me. Oh, I knew it was coming. I went to parties and concerts. I bought gifts for my kids. Some years, I went back to Indiana to visit family. But I was always shocked to wake up Christmas morning as if the date had been changed and no one told me. I felt like I had missed the whole thing and then it was over.

I hate that feeling.

So I’ve made a conscious effort to live in the moment and enjoy Christmas for all it is. I’m not always very good at it, but I’m aware of it. I encourage you to do the same.

What does that look like?

Live Your Christmas

Do you love looking at Christmas lights? Find something in your Day Planner that you can scratch off and take that time to go look at Christmas lights – for hours, if you want. Prioritize what you love.

Do you love watching holiday movies? Set aside a weekend and binge on them. Why not?

Do you crave Christmas cookies all year? Make some. Call a family member and get your grandmother’s recipes. Make them from scratch. Celebrate the process and make it fun. You’ll burn off calories and use healthier ingredients (this IS still a health and wellness blog, you know).

Do you love spending time with friends and family during the holidays? Find a way. No money to travel this year? Get creative.

Why am I saying all this?

Because life is too short to live it sad.

Happiness and Healthiness

Even if you follow everything on this blog to a “T,” study the Blue Zones in detail and live to be 120 years old, every day is still precious. It’s easy to skate past life on auto-pilot because we’re “busy.” I see too many people surviving when they could be thriving. Too many people die without ever living (just because you’re breathing doesn’t mean you’re alive). Too many people are being killed by stress.

King Solomon once wrote, “A joyful heart is good like a medicine; but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). As we’ve talked about several times on this blog, your emotional and spiritual health is tied directly to your physical health. Worry, stress, and anxiety are toxic to your body.

If you want to get clinical about it, your brain and other organs secrete a rainbow of different neurotransmitters that relay messages across your body, including serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline, and cortisol. You need them all at different times, but prolonged exposure to adrenaline or cortisol (related to stress) will damage your organs. Stress will kill you if you let it.

We all need joy in our lives. We all need peace. We all need a sense of well-being or our body will begin to destroy itself. We live in such extreme pressure and stress all year long, and we need a release. I don’t want to validate unhealthy behaviors (and Lord knows that entire industries have grown up around unhealthy ways to unwind — escapism is the term we use for it these days). While some will argue that Christmas is a bunch of silly religious customs or a cynical excuse for commercialism, I see Christmas as a season of recovery that people need.

Personally, I’d much rather see people release that stress by celebrating Christmas than curling up at the bottom of a whiskey bottle or eating junk for comfort.

Times of Celebration For Health

Our Creator built times of celebration into the calendar on purpose. Hidden in the arcane regulations of Leviticus is instructions on how to have a killer week-long party! Several times a year! Don’t tell me that slipped in there by accident.

This Christmas, let joy be your medicine. Let your body unwind. I know it’s a busy time, but I urge you to carve out some time for peace.

After all, Christmas is about peace. What was the angels’ message? Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men. God loves us so much, He sent His Son to pay the penalty for the sin that separated us from Him. When sin entered the world, we were cut off from fellowship with God, and that opened the door for sickness, disease, poverty, and death. By restoring us to fellowship with God, Jesus gave us access to all of God’s other blessings: a clean conscience, favor, all of your needs met, and healing for your body. You can find a complete list of blessings Jesus provided for us in Deuteronomy 28, Isaiah 53 and 54, and Psalm 103. Whenever you see the word “peace,” you’re reading the Hebrew word, “shalom,” which means “wholeness,” or “nothing missing and nothing broken.” That’s what’s under the tree for you, from Jesus.

So, on behalf of my staff, I want to wish you a merry, joyful, peaceful, refreshing Christmas.

And God bless us…everyone!

“At the end of your FEELINGS is NOTHING. At the end of your PRINCIPLES is a PROMISE.”  – Eric Thomas

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