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Dr. Kestner: Five reminders that have nothing to do with Thanksgiving

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You’ll notice that many columns today will be about Thanksgiving. I had other content in mind, but I wanted to observe the timing of the issue so I had to work the word Thanksgiving into the title somewhere. So, here are your timely reminders that happen to be appropriate right about now.

1. You’ve waited long enough. You have been nursing that ailing body part or putting off getting those medical tests you need. Your insurance deductible renews in five weeks, so make that appointment. Don’t wait until the very last minute, as clinics are often jammed near year-end.

2. Your car needs some attention. Colder weather is coming and that weak battery will fail at the most inopportune time (as mine did last week). If you need tires, a tune-up, wiper blades, an oil change or other service, do it before you get too busy with Christmas shopping and find yourself stranded.

3. It is easier to stay warm than to re-warm. A patient came shivering into the office last week. She was complaining about “always being cold” and that she couldn’t warm up. I looked at what she was wearing: thin socks, no gloves, lightweight jacket and no scarf or hat. Once your body loses heat, it is very difficult to regain it. If you often feel cold and want to so something to change that, your best bet is to go inside, get warm, then dress appropriately to stay warm.

4. It is sometimes easier to get warm from the inside than from the outside. Remember an article published in this space about two years ago about the importance of keeping your body core warm? If you are successful in keeping your torso and inner organs warm you are less likely to have cold hands and feet. For many people that often feel cold, drinking a hot beverage or eating a bowl of warm soup may be the best medicine.

5. S.A.D. is coming. Many people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder. The theory is that less exposure to daylight causes a downturn in mood. If you have noticed in the past that your mood tends to sink during the winter, or that Christmas is a little depressing for you, there’s H.O.P.E. Never heard of the acronym H.O.P.E.? OK, I just made that one up. It stands for Habits, Optimism and Physical Exercise. Decide today to develop better habits, including choosing how you spend your time, what you eat, what you watch on television, who you spend time with and other things that might affect your mood. Optimism is critically important and is easy to improve. It costs nothing and takes only seconds to check your attitude. Research has proven that people that intentionally work to increase their positive view of the world live longer, have fewer health problems and stay happier. Finally, physical exercise helps your mood. Start by simply doing whatever physical activity you enjoy or that is easy for you. Taking a walk almost always improves mood. Whether you tour your own neighborhood, the Greenway, Stone River Battlefield, Barfield Park, MTSU campus or downtown, the activity will give you a boost.

Two bonus tips, since the Post always delivers more than expected:

6. Beginning now, you can establish habits that will prevent weight gain during the next few weeks. (OK, this one is linked to Thanksgiving). By making a decision today to avoid overindulging this year, you can emerge on the other side of this season of festive eating weighing less than you do today. This is actually a great time to make a commitment to yourself to hold fast to sensible eating habits and avoid holiday binging. If you can be successful through Super Bowl Sunday, just think how easy the rest of the year will be.

7. Remember there is always someone less fortunate than you. Look for ways to be a blessing to someone that is ill, hungry, depressed, tired or simply alone. Sometimes the simplest gestures mean so much. A quote from Mother Teresa: “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

I hope your family enjoys this wonderful week of Thanksgiving.

Dr. Mark Kestner
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November 23, 2008 at 9:02am
EXCELLENT column, Doc....Esp. the quote from Mother Teresa.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
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