Dec 22, 2014 9:45 AM

Author: Jen Brass Jenkins, MPC

There is no doubt that the holidays can be stressful, but having a case of the bah humbugs won’t help you in the long run. In fact Scrooge-ing your way through the days and weeks (beyond the holidays) is liable to have a number of effects on your health (not to mention your family’s).

But just what, you may be huffing, are the points of positivity? Why should you bother contemplating an attitude change when you are quite happy as you are? "Optimism can have a great effect on a person's health and well being,” Says Rick Henriksen, MD, family medicine doctor. “Having a positive outlook can help manage stress leading to lower rates of depression, better coping skills, and even better recovery rates in patients suffering from stroke or cardiovascular disease."

Jump-Starting a More Positive Holiday ‘Tude

To help you in your journey towards positivity, we have five suggestions to get you started:

  1. Smile. It can spark your endorphins and make you feel slightly better about the whole thing.
  2. Find one positive thing. Surely there is something you enjoy!
  3. Unplug. Part of managing overwhelming stress is to know your triggers. If you feel overwhelmed, find a space or a few minutes to breathe deeply and relax.
  4. Approach problems with an attitude to find solutions. You can’t do everything, and if that means taking the shortcut, then take the shortcut! (Find more tips for holiday destressors.)
  5. Appreciate what you have. Don’t get caught up in the competition, but rather practice gratitude for what you do have. It can make a difference.

So, while your smile may at first resemble a holiday grimace, perhaps you could make a tiny goal to enjoy at least something during the holidays—even if it’s in secret.

Studies supporting the evidence for a positive attitude helping patients recover or cope with cardiovascular disease and stroke:
-Exercise Mediates the Association Between Positive Affect and 5-Year Mortality in Patients With Ischemic Heart Disease. Hoogwegt, M. T., Versteeg, H, Hansen, T, Thygesen, Lau, Pedersen, S. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, 2013.
-Understanding Hope After Stroke: A Systematic Review of the Literature Using Concept Analysis. F.A.S., Bright, N.M., Kayes, C.M., McCann, K.M. McPherson. Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation, 18:5, Sept–Oct, 2011.
-Don't worry, by happy: Positive affect and reduced 10-year incident coronary heart disease: The Canadian Nova Scotia Health Survey. K.W., Davidson, E., Mostofsky, & W. Whang. European Heart Journal, 2010.

Jen Brass Jenkins, MPC

Jen is a content strategist on the Interactive Marketing and Web team writing, managing projects, managing clients, and editing many, many things.

holiday health optimism

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