The Season of Health and Prioritizing Wellness
Bella Carpino | Writing Contributor
As the year continues to speed by and the month of November comes to an end, many people feel a wave of relief in knowing that they are nearing a period of rest and stability. Thanksgiving break is known as a time spent surrounded by family and friends, but it is also a week to indulge in delicious high-sugar treats. As far as dietary health over the holiday season, the saying, “everything in moderation,” is widely used. With that being said, it is not always necessary to stray away from the treats of Thanksgiving.
Whether it is mashed potatoes with gravy or the famous pumpkin pie recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation, nearly everyone has a Thanksgiving dish that they love and look forward to. At times like Thanksgiving when health may not be found in the festivities and indulgent food itself, as people who lead busy, chaotic lives, it is important to discover health and wellness in other areas.
Health is not always defined as going on the Paleo Diet and completing a 60-minute-high intensity interval training workout every day of the week. Although many people in society today may express that perspective, health has many different definitions. An article by the World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being”. Contributing factors to maintaining not just physical health but the wellness of the entire body and mind include leading a more stress-free lifestyle, appreciating the small moments that radiate joy and remaining in the present to make lasting memories with loved ones. Below are some things to practice during this Thanksgiving Break.
As the doors to Thanksgiving break open, it is important to treat the week as a true breather from the noise and disorder of hectic college life, and as an opportunity to eat what brings you happiness, surround yourself with loving people and embrace the season of health and rest that November offers. For students around the country, Thanksgiving break offers a chance to free oneself of the duties, schoolwork, social gatherings and more that tend to be both energy drainers and stress triggers. The break from stressful activities allows for expending energy instead on the low-stress environment of your home during a time of gratitude and blessings, leading to a healthy temporary isolation from the numerous amounts of anxiety-causing tasks that cloud many people’s daily lives.
Practicing pure gratitude is a way to gain the most fulfillment and restoration of your body and mind over Thanksgiving break. For some people, practicing gratitude might look like writing down specific moments they are thankful for in a gratitude journal, while for others gratitude might be practiced by verbally thanking loved ones and writing thank you letters for their presence in life. While gratitude is not essentially an attitude, appreciating moments with friends and family over the break or even practicing self-care alone can lead you to see health in a whole new perspective. An article by the University of Utah, “Practicing Gratitude for Better Health and Well-being” says that expressing gratitude can positively affect the brain.
“It boosts dopamine and serotonin, the neurotransmitters in the brain that improve your mood immediately, giving you those positive feelings of pleasure, happiness, and well-being.”
The article also describes how practicing gratitude can increase happiness, improve relationships and hinder depression. The improvement of health does not necessarily need to be found in adding low-calorie dishes to the Thanksgiving dinner table. Still, instead, health can flourish through practicing thankfulness in such a time of restfulness.
Improving your wellness over Thanksgiving break can also benefit from implementing practices of mindfulness. Mayo Clinic explains the practice of mindfulness as planting yourself in the moment and increasing awareness of your emotional well-being without any judgment. Mindfulness can be practiced through meditation or simply being intentional with others and noticing more within the busy world that may surround you. Mindfulness can be practiced by sitting down and performing deep breathing techniques when surrounded by negative thoughts. When an individual can practice thoughtfulness and true presence, they begin to become more in tune with their overall well-being and with the sensations and activities that stir up the most joy in them, further maximizing the improvement of their health over the break.
In today’s society which deems restfulness lazy and where health seems to be solely judged according to what food we consume; it is time to become more aware of the opportunities the break offers to improve wellbeing. The weeklong break leading up to a day all about gratitude provides complete freedom to stray away from the commitments of an everyday busy schedule and to lean into the abundance of relaxation, grace and mindfulness.
Bella Carpino serves as a writing contributor. She is a junior at The University of Alabama majoring in nursing. Originally from Los Angeles, this is her second year with Alice.