I know there are about a million posts out there about this exact topic, but I’m gonna take a little bit of a different approach to it. When we talk about “health” in our society, we are generally referring to what we look like, people always make wrong assumptions about other people’s health based on what they physically look like. You can be fat and healthy just like you can be skinny and unhealthy, there is a correlation, but being healthy and being skinny are not mutually exclusive.
That being said, the holidays are definitely a time where we indulge ourselves in the less healthy side of life a little more than we usually do. I for one eat very healthy most of the time, but on Christmas eve I will make my famously unhealthy macaroni and cheese and eat probably an entire plate of it. I’m gonna have some of my grandma’s apple pie and my aunt’s potatoes Diane, and retire into a fat and sugar induced food coma, that’s the american way. When talking about being healthy we often hold ourselves to impossible standards and that’s why we fail. We see any deviation from our planned regiment of diet and exersize as a failure and that often leads to us giving up altogether. It is unrealistic to expect people to enjoy these holidays centered around food and family with just a plate of salad, indulging on Christmas or thanksgiving does not make you a failure, it makes you human.
Another aspect of health that around the holidays can be even more important than sticking to your diet and working out, is mental health. This is an aspect of health that we generally only talk about around when something goes wrong. When someone who has been seriously failed by the mental health system in a really big way. Usually this person has found access to a gun and shoots some people and we act shocked and say “he must have slipped through the cracks”. We act like these cracks are so small and we don’t understand how he slipped, we spend a couple weeks talking about mental health reform and nothing really changes. What we all fail to realize is that in reality slipping through the cracks is easier than we think, it happens every day. One small thing that we can do for our own mental health and that of others is love and acceot each other, such a simple concept that so many people fail to grasp. Feelings of depression and loneliness are exacerbated around the holidays, times of the year centered around family are often hard for people who don’t have close family or friends to enjoy the season with. Because of this it’s important that we smile at everyone we see hug the people you love and tell them you love them every day. When you see a homeless man or woman give them money or food, or just say hi and treat them like a human being. Let everyone you see know that they are not alone, because they aren’t. Feeling like you are isolated from the rest of the world is a feeling that can ware on your psyche more than anything else. At our core we are all the same, we are all human, and we often forget what that means.The ability to feel for one another and care about one another is an important human trait that we let class, race, and socio-economic standing take away from us. We need to start defining ourselves as human before anything else, and watch how our world vies can change.
When assessing the “health” of our fellow humans, we put very little importance on mental health because the state of someone’s mental health isn’t something you can always see. Some people with mental health issues look disheveled or unkempt, we look at them and it makes sense to us, their mental health status has physically manifested on their bodies and that makes sense. The problem is that these people are a small percentage of people with mental illness. The rest of them walk among us often smiling through their depression or anxiety and trying to look “normal”, trying to fit in, trying not to let their “difference” show. When someone is struggling with demons in their own mind just one smile can make a world of difference.
We’re all fighting battles every day that no one else sees and just plain kindness can be the best weapon in these battles. One smile, one “happy holidays”, or one piece of home cooked pie can change someone else’s day, week, or life.