Kristen Staton, Prevention Specialist with the San Antonio Council on Alcohol & Drug Awareness and the Hill Country Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse has started writing a monthly article for The Rainbow Center at Kronkosky Place in Boerne.
12/1/2022 – Gift Yourself Peace – De-Stress The Holidays!
With the holiday season upon us, we may be facing extra stress, whether we’re spending the holidays with loved ones or on our own. Here are 5 ways to stay in the holiday spirit… or at least keep Scrooge at bay.
- Try to maintain as much of your regular schedule as possible. Keep exercising. Take time to draw in your sketchpad at night. Get out in the garden (yes, it’s December, but it’s Texas).
- Embrace imperfection. Perfection is impossible, and usually we’re the only ones holding ourselves to such high standards.
- Take breaks. Too much holiday talk with friends when you’re not feeling it? Step away, and when you come back it’ll be a natural time in the conversation to change the subject.
- Take a nap. Sleep works wonders for your mood (and for avoiding conversations with that one person you didn’t invite but is somehow still at your house for Christmas).
- Be kind. The holidays can be magical, but they can also be a source of pressure and disappointment. Acknowledge that and put as much kindness into your interactions with others as possible. You’ll have warm, fuzzy feelings in no time.
1/1/2023 –Resolve to Create Healthy Habits All Year Long
Thanks to countless “New Year, New You” articles, January has become the de facto time of year for people to evaluate their choices and habits. Whether you want to incorporate more exercise into your day, or you want to stop relying on a substance like tobacco or alcohol, there are steps you can take to get yourself where you want to be.
- The first and most important step? Give yourself grace! Focus on the new habit you’re creating TODAY, and don’t dwell on the past.
- Set a concrete start date, preferably sometime in the next two weeks to keep that momentum going.
- Do the math. How much will it cost you NOT to create your healthy habit? Let’s say you want to stop smoking. Crunch the numbers on how much cigarettes cost you, and then consider the physical and emotional price of continuing to smoke. Jot these down for when you need a reminder.
- Identify circumstances that may make it harder for you to stick to your goal. These can be social events, seeing someone engaging in unhealthy behavior on TV, or dealing with unpleasant emotions. Come up with a plan for how you’ll handle those situations before you’re in them.
- Celebrate your successes, no matter how small. Be proud of the work you’re putting in for a healthier life!
Remember, while January may be the month of making resolutions, you can create healthy habits any day of the year. What will you create for yourself today?
2/1/2023 – A Valentine to Your Heart
For many people, February is all about Valentine’s Day and Cupid and judging how much someone loves you by the size of the box of chocolates they buy. But February is also American Heart Month, so we’re going to focus less on pink, glittery hearts and more on the vital, blood-pumping muscle that sustains life. Here are some ways to keep your heart healthy!
- Reduce or eliminate alcohol and tobacco consumption. Alcohol can increase your blood pressure and weaken the walls of your heart. Tobacco increases risk of heart failure and can harden your arteries, which means the blood the heart pumps won’t get where it needs to be.
- Add more fruits and vegetables into your diet. It’s as easy as tossing some plump, juicy blueberries (which help manage cholesterol) into your yogurt, or roasting some crispy brussels sprouts with garlic. I often hear protests about brussels sprouts, but they lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease, and are delicious. Don’t knock ‘em till you’ve tried ‘em!
- The answer to almost everything that ails you is exercise. Aim for 150 minutes a week.
- Get at least seven hours of sleep per night. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults who get less than seven hours of sleep on a regular basis may experience poor health effects like high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Visit your dentist! Bacteria in your mouth can cause inflammation. If left unchecked, this can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. The good news is, going to the dentist could also lead to detection of other potential issues in your body.
Making these changes can increase not only your heart health, but your overall health. Give your heart the love and attention (and brussels sprouts) it deserves this Valentine’s Day.
3/1/2023 – 5 Ways to Keep Your Glass Half Full
March is National Optimism Month, making it a great time to practice the power of positive thinking. There are many perks to a healthy dose of optimism in your life. It can lead to less pain and fewer physical symptoms when ill, reduce depression, increase resilience, and even help you live longer. Now that we know some of the benefits of thinking positive, let’s figure out how to turn that frown upside down.
- Start small. Identify things that make you feel negative, then pick one area that you can start to change. Be sure to give yourself credit for positive thoughts as they come up. Keeping a journal can be a great way to figure out where you’re seeing the bright side of life, and where you may need to put in a little work.
- Ask yourself, “What if this situation works out for me?” instead of focusing on the worst-case scenario. There is nothing wrong with being prepared for the worst, but that’s only one possible outcome. Envisioning the best result can lift your spirits and encourage you to take steps that may increase the likelihood of good things coming your way.
- Mindfulness meditation isn’t just for stress reduction. It can help you learn to acknowledge your emotions as they are and then let them go. If you’d like some guidance on how to meditate, you can seek out classes in your community, find free videos online, or subscribe to services like Calm or Headspace. (Your insurance may cover the cost of meditation services, so check with your provider.)
- Surround yourself with positive people. No one is happy all the time, but being around people who are generally optimistic can open you up to new ways of thinking.
- Accept that there are some things that are out of your control. Optimism isn’t about never being stressed or feeling down. It’s about how you cope with the hand you’ve been dealt. While you can’t always control what happens in life, you do have control over your thoughts, and that can make all the difference between a bad day and a good one. As someone once said to me, make it a good day or not. The choice is yours!