Our Staff’s Holiday Traditions

Our Staff’s Holiday Traditions

How do you and your family get into the holiday mood? This Christmas, we’re excited for you to get to know our team better by sharing the seasonal traditions of our Healthy365 staff members. Maybe you’ll find that you have similar holiday traditions, or maybe you’ll discover a fun new activity to add to your annual celebration. 

Laura Baker

The whole holiday Christmas season is packed with tradition. With the starting being Thanksgiving evening, my husband and children get the house ready with Christmas lights and with all the hype of the drumroll of the “Christmas Vacation” movie we stand outside in the yard with an official flip on the lights to let the world know it is indeed time to start celebrating the birthday month of Jesus. Throughout the month we attend as many fun Christmas events as we can manage with the finality of Christmas Eve service in our best pajamas then stopping for some hot chocolate made just the way we like it and touring the area for Christmas lights. Trying to sleep for the night before we celebrate as a family with all the food and merriment we can manage. But I must mention that in order for Mommy and now Grandma to stay sane throughout the holiday season I make meditation, prayer and moving my body a priority throughout the month, even rising early Christmas morning to get my selfcare routine in so I can stay mentally and emotionally full of joy for my family. Have to fill your own cup so you can fill others.’ 

Brandee Bastin

Our traditions revolve around family. Christmas Eve day is spent with my husband’s side of the family where we enjoy lunch, exchange gifts, and the children get to spend some time with their cousins. Christmas Eve night will usually find us having dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant (which unfortunately is closed right now as it is moving locations) and watching our favorite Christmas movies at home. Christmas morning we enjoy opening gifts at home while listening to Christmas music and then visit my parents’ home for Christmas breakfast and exchange gifts. The remainder of Christmas Day you can find “A Christmas Story” running its 24-hour marathon on one of our televisions and all of us taking a nap at some point during the day. We just enjoy spending time together! 

Christina DeWitt

We have a few holiday traditions that we look forward to each year. One of my favorites is loading my children in the car with overflowing bowls of popcorn, hot chocolate, Christmas music and movies, and driving around our local community looking at the Christmas lights that neighbors take time to hang for others to enjoy. We also love waking early Christmas day to open gifts and seeing the joy and spirit the day brings. Instead of a “traditional” holiday meal, we always opt for sushi the day of Christmas and love having as many different rolls as possible and of course rice, always rice. Finally, my all-time favorite tradition is taking time for self-care including being as present as possible and taking time to slow down. To do this, I ensure to incorporate mindfulness as well as acts of gratitude to highlight the Reason for the Season.

Amanda Everidge

I have a few Christmas traditions that are very important to my family. Our families spend Christmas Eve together and decorate sugar cookies and gingerbread houses every year. We look forward to painting our cookies, sharing stories and having screen-free fun together. On Christmas morning we enjoy opening presents while listening to Christmas music and the Yule Log burning in the background. In the early afternoon, you will find us taking a family walk around our neighborhood or Beckenholt Park before snuggling on the couch to watch “A Christmas Story.”

Amanda Hinkle

My holiday traditions are that on Christmas Eve we spend that time with my mother-in-law and their side of the family. This has been a tradition for many many years, going to my mother-in-law‘s house first and then going to my husband’s grandmother’s house for the evening. We sit around tables and have a good conversation while the kids play a variety of games in the basement. There is always some sort of fun craft for the kids to do. Then we get back to our house after midnight and get the kids in the bed and get ready for Christmas morning. It can be very exhausting but we love it. On Christmas morning, my parents and my brother are at the house and we do gifts together, then the rest of my side of the family comes over for dinner. It is very much revolved around family and just being with each other. Aside from the traditional family gatherings we like to go to Christmas at the Zoo and find a place to do drive-through Christmas lights. 

Teri House Gottschalk

Our holiday traditions are all about family time and start with decorating the house inside and out, but never before Thanksgiving. No matter the weather, the outside decorations go up the weekend following Thanksgiving! That weekend also includes a trip to a local tree farm to select the tallest, skinniest tree we can find. Decorating the tree is a family event, including my four adult children, and two granddaughters. Waiting for the big day, we bake cookies and other treats to share with friends and our awesome cul de sac neighbors. Tinsel, our Elf on the Shelf has required a lot of attention this year, as he appears to be lazy and sometimes “forgets” to relocate overnight. We try to fit in an evening for enjoying light displays in neighborhoods, or places like Winter Lights, or the Fairgrounds display. Christmas morning we have cinnamon rolls and cocoa while opening our gifts from Santa. Late morning, my mom, sister and brother-in-law join us for more gift exchanging, then we enjoy a leisurely brunch and relax the rest of the day. 

Krystal Montgomery

This year is extra special for my family and our Christmas traditions. We moved into our new home in November and have a new tradition of hosting Christmas with my extended family. We enjoy putting up our tree, decorating, and hanging all our “special” ornaments. On Christmas Eve we open one gift each and always have matching pj’s. Excitement fills the house on Christmas morning with opening presents together, Christmas music playing in the background, and the kids get a “special” ornament attached to one present each year. This is a family tradition my parents started with my brothers and I.

Heidi Carmichael

Our holiday traditions include spending Thanksgiving with our family from Georgia, either in Indiana or in Georgia, depending on how our harvest season is going.  Traditional dinner and of course Black Friday shopping!  The Christmas season is usually a whirlwind of preparing for the get-togethers, spending time volunteering for the Cheer Guild, and treasured time with all of our families.

Conner McCarty

We have a few holiday traditions that are a must-do each year. My holiday season kicks off the Friday after thanksgiving. We start with Christmas music all day, decorating the house, and going to our local tree farm to pick out the best tree. Once all the decorations are up, I like to spend the rest of the time baking all the best Christmas desserts! It isn’t a Christmas at my house without at least one screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Christmas Vacation.” Christmas Eve, Christmas day, and the day after are spent with family and enjoying good food.

Mental Wellness During the Holidays

Mental Wellness During the Holidays

You may think of the holiday season as a time filled with joy and happiness. But for many people, especially those with preexisting mental health struggles, the holidays can also be a time of great stress or loneliness. At Healthy365, our goal is to help you maintain your mental and overall wellness all year round, but especially in times of great need. We’re rounding up a few tips for improving your mental wellness during the holidays, no matter what it may bring.

Set boundaries with family

For many of us, the holidays are synonymous with family time. But spending time with family members can also be a big stressor. There is a lot of pressure to be “one big happy family” when you go home for the holidays, but most families have at least some level of drama that crops up when everyone gets together.

You can help maintain your mental wellness by setting boundaries and sticking to them. This may mean avoiding certain controversial conversation topics or checking in with yourself frequently to make sure you are feeling comfortable. And don’t be embarrassed to take a few minutes of alone time for yourself when you need it. 

Get out of the house regularly

Especially if you are staying with family, it can be a good practice to get out of the house every day during your holiday break. Having a break in your routine from work or school can feel relaxing for some, but sitting around the house all day may just add to feelings of depression or loneliness. You could go out and get coffee with a friend, run some errands for yourself or your family, or just take a walk around the neighborhood. Getting out in nature is great for mental wellness, and exercise can boost endorphins if you are feeling low. 

Practice relaxation and self-care

A holiday break is a great time for some self-care. Take a relaxing bath, do some journaling, or make time for meditation. You could even pamper yourself as you have some time off with a massage or spa appointment. You may be spending more time on social media if you’re bored, but try not to compare yourself to other people’s “highlight reels,” especially if you are having feelings of depression or anxiety this season. If that’s the case for you, self-care might look like a little social media break during the holidays. 

Get some good sleep

Speaking of self-care, getting a good night’s sleep can also help you maintain your mental wellness. Try to get 7-8 full hours of sleep, which can reduce stress and keep your immune system up too! Setting good boundaries around your family may also mean sleeping somewhere other than your childhood home if you are in town for a few days. You are more likely to rest easily if you have your own personal space and alone time to unwind after a day full of holiday activities and family time. 

Treat yourself but eat well

Eating well can have a big impact on your mental health, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still treat yourself. Try eating a healthy snack before your next big holiday meal, which can help you from overstuffing yourself on processed foods or sweets. And if you are struggling with your mental wellness, the holidays are not the time to overindulge in alcohol, tobacco or drugs — they may actually worsen your stress levels. If you are concerned about your substance misuse or a family member’s, Healthy365 can help explore local treatment options. 

When it comes to your wellness journey, Healthy365 is always focused on the health of individuals who live, work, learn, play, and pray in Hancock County. Our Support Navigators would be proud to listen to your story, assess your needs and identify local resources to improve your wellness. Contact us today at 317-468-4231 to learn more.

Reducing the Thanksgiving Stress

Reducing the Thanksgiving Stress

Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? Hosting can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Whether you’re planning a holiday meal for just your household or a big bunch of friends and family, we’ve got some tips and tricks to reduce the Thanksgiving stress while still hosting an event to remember.

Prepare as much as possible

Plan your dishes ahead of time, and remember that you can prepare and freeze many dishes in the days before Thanksgiving. Desserts are a great element of your dinner that can be made and stored days in advance. Don’t be afraid to pick up certain dishes (or your whole meal) from the store or a local restaurant, rather than cooking from scratch. Supporting the local economy is just as important as a meal made in your own kitchen. 

You can also prepare for hosting duties by getting out your serving ware, glasses and silverware ahead of time and setting the table as much as possible the night before. One less thing to think about the day of will give you more time to prepare for cooking and/or hosting. 

Healthy meal planning

When you’re choosing the dishes in your Thanksgiving dinner, traditional family foods can bring everyone comfort. But if you are concerned about your health and wellness, it may feel difficult to decide which to include. Feeling like you’re on a diet at a big holiday meal can just add to the stress, so keep in mind that it’s okay to treat yourself on occasion. 

A few ideas to help: eat breakfast that morning so that you’re not starving and overstuffing yourself when the big meal comes around. You can also try to “eat the rainbow” to get the most nutrients out of your dinner, such as red cranberries, green beans, orange carrots, white turkey and more!

Accept help from others

As you plan your meal, ask others if they’d like to contribute a side dish, drink or decorations. There’s nothing in the “Thanksgiving hosting guide” that says you have to provide every single item on the menu. Incorporating items from your friends and family is also a great way to help cater to picky eaters or those with special dietary/allergy needs. When your guests start to arrive, allow them to help set the final pieces of the table, put the finishing touches on dishes and get their own drinks. Most guests will be looking for ways to help reduce your Thanksgiving stress as the host, so let them!

Get the kids involved

Accepting help from others also includes the kids! Handprint turkeys and homemade place cards are the perfect projects to keep children busy and away from the hot stove as you’re cooking. Children can also help with food shopping, setting the table, taking coats for guests and cleaning up after the meal. Age appropriate tasks are a great way to let your kids take more ownership over your family’s hosting duties and reduce the Thanksgiving stress overall.

Focus on the gratitude

Our final tip is to remember the real reason for the holiday. Getting together safely with family, especially after the chaos of the past almost two years, is something that so many of us are thankful for. It may seem like a cliche, but going around the dinner table to tell others why you are thankful is the perfect way to focus on gratitude. Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” is the ultimate act of self-care and stress reduction this holiday season. 

If you are feeling the Thanksgiving stress this year… or your overall mental health needs a little extra support, contact Healthy365 today. We would love to connect you with local resources and programs that can best serve your or your loved one’s mental well-being.