Alicia Jacobs, MD, family medicine physician, is Vice Chair of Clinical Operations in Family Medicine at The University of Vermont Medical Center. She is also practices at Family Medicine Colchester.

Alicia Jacobs, MD, family medicine physician, is Vice Chair of Clinical Operations in Family Medicine at The University of Vermont Medical Center. She is also practices at Family Medicine Colchester.

It is the dark time of the year: our day time light is short, our tempers may still be a bit short from the holidays; we are reflecting on our year, our accomplishments, our families – and engaging in plans for this new year. With the recent cold temperatures, we are bracing for the long Vermont winter. However, this is a great time to remember that we are now on the lighter side of winter — and life.

Get outside. Days are getting lighter since the shortest day of the year on Sunday December 21. Try to get some outside time during the day both for the fresh air and the light. If it’s cold, bundle up! Remember that, with enough exposure, this sunlight can burn you, too – so, remember sunscreen.

Enjoy the light of the moon. Now is a great time of year for moon-lit walks, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The Catamount Outdoor Family Center hosts Moonlight Snowshoe Tours in February and March.

Lighten your mood. Post-holiday expectations are a little lighter. The busy schedules and pressures around the holiday times are over. This is when some folks have a letdown after the festivities, but it can be a great time to lighten our mood –

  • Try some self-care – take some downtime to relax, meditate, and eat well
  • Use distraction – a movie, good book
  • Stay connected socially – a January celebration, seeing friends
  • Be light of heart – give family members a pass and move on from conflicts

Use the New Year as a new start – and remember that every day is a new opportunity to make changes – so don’t be too hard on yourself.

  • Try a lighter diet – lighter food such a vegetables, plant proteins and whole grains will lighten our energy after a meal. Make it a resolution to try a new fruit, vegetable, or grain every week.
  • Be light on our feet – generally, we will feel more energy if we have some activity in our day. Aim for 30 minutes of movement.
  • Lighten up the scale – make an achievable weight less goal, like 5 pounds. Then, make a simple and achievable diet change that will work for you (Ideas include: no soda, no high fructose corn syrup, no more cookies, no after dinner snacks, etc).

Be a light to others. Many of us find ways to donate time, money and goods during the holiday seasons. However, most community needs still exist year-round. This kind of giving to our community is meaningful and helpful, bolsters our sense of usefulness and self-esteem. The United Way is a great place to start. Visit them online.

Stay light in spirit. Feeling guilty about the past or worried about the future keeps us from being fully here in the present. If we focus on the things we are grateful for, we have a better chance of enjoying the day.

Go and be well during this slowly lightening season!

Alicia Jacobs, MD, family medicine physician, is Vice Chair of Clinical Operations in Family Medicine at The University of Vermont Medical Center. She is also practices at Family Medicine Colchester.

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