Small steps in faith

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

"Holiday Detox"

This can be a tough week for people going back to "normal" after the holidays.
I read this article this morning in my email from "Relevant" and it had some good thoughts and ideas. I really liked the gift card one..I know I've had gift cards with small amts left on it before and this is a great way to use them for good.

The holiday season is officially over and that means “coming down” off candy cane stupor, The Christmas Story again and again (and again) and leftovers from the past month or so. To help the process we’ve come up with four ideas to help with your detoxing:

1. Taking a look at your health

As cliché as it may sound, January is a great time to focus on your health. For many Americans, gorging on holiday foods (from Thanksgiving turkey to Christmas sweets) in the weeks leading up to the New Year is an annual tradition. But taking to time to detox can have a dramatic effect on your health, and when incorporated into a lifestyle, may have long-term benefits.

Recently, researchers investigating heart disease found that Mormons have far less occurrences of certain cardiac problems than the general population. And though many Mormons practice “clean living” habits (no smoking or drinking), doctors found that the dramatic information was also due to fasting one day a month. The study found that people who skipped a meal each month had about a 40 percent less likely chance of getting clogged arteries than non-fasters. And it wasn’t strictly a Mormon trend—even non-religious people who practiced occasional fasting had much better health. One doctor involved in the study suggested that by skipping a meal, you force your body to burn more calories by going into fat reserves. If your diet is high in sugars, even just taking a break from them can allow your system to produce less insulin that it requires to metabolize it. But like many practices, when it comes t! o fasting and detoxing, it’s important to exercise moderation and even consult a doctor first in some cases (people that are diabetic should avoid skipping meals).

2. Listening to the silence

Solitude and sabbath are pretty heavy words, but both are practices we should incorporate into our daily routines (ok, weekly) in order for us to grow and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Solitude and sabbath are more similar than they are different and should actually be accomplished together. A sabbath, in its biblical context, is rest from a day’s work and is meant to be enjoyed; it is something we should look forward to. This does not mean shutting yourself up in your room and depriving yourself of interaction with others, nor does it mean vegging out in front of the TV all day watching Mythbusters or Project Runway marathons. Find something or somewhere that calms you, allows you to be silent before the Lor! d and refills your spirit. Solitude finds its way into you r Sabbath almost unknowingly and gives God a chance to catch up with you. Slowing down and making time for solitude and a real Sabbath gives your body a chance to wind down and heart open up—which could be a big reason why resolutions always seem to fail, they never address the root of the problem. We often make resolutions on a whim or after some guilt-inducing commercial, never really listening to our hearts about what needs to change or be realigned. Taking a Sabbath and quieting ourselves gets to the root of our lives, and it was designed for us to take advantage of.

3. The benefits of serving

Finally it seems people are beginning to speak out about serving in local communities. There are too many in need that are routinely forgotten and ignored. But what about the psychological aspects of service? Serving should not be a selfish action, where your only motive for helping someone in need is the satisfaction you feel after, but there are some! benefits to being a seasoned volunteer. Studies have found that those who volunteer regularly have an increased capacity for compassion and understanding. Those who volunteer have also noted that the act of service they took part in exceeded their expectations—they set out to help those in need and ended up being helped, as well. By serving consistently with the same organization, relationships form and those less fortunate feel a sense of belonging. Stories are exchanged; memories are shared. When we serve those around us, it’s pretty clear everyone benefits.

4. Simplifying your surroundings helps others

Despite overall trends that saw holiday shopping slightly down last year,
American’s spent almost 30 billion dollars through online retailers alone during the Christmas season in 2007. The American Research Group says that since 1998, shoppers plan on spending between 859-1,052 dollars on gifts each holiday season. Ano! ther staggering number shows that 83 percent of Americans get unwanted gifts at Christmas. That equates to a lot of extra stuff come January. Sometimes detoxing your own life of clutter, extra stuff and random gifts can not only help you become less dependant of things and consume less—it can also be an action to help others. Here are two organizations that take some of your old stuff and makes sure it goes to people in need:


Goodwill continues to be one of the world’s largest nonprofit providers of
services, education and training for individuals with disadvantages. In
2006, local Goodwills around the country helped provide employment to more
than 930,000 people. Many of those benefiting from Goodwill suffer from
disabilities, homeless or a lack of education. But Goodwil! l is dependant on
generous individuals who donate clothing and other household goods, which
are sold at more than 2,100 retail centers. To find a donation center near
you, users can visit Most local Goodwills even
allow you to schedule a pick-up for large items like furniture.

Gift Card Giver

The National Retail Federation found that 81 percent of Americans received a
gift card last year, and TowerGroup says that the gift card industry has
become a 45 billion dollar operation. With millions of dollars on gift cards going unspent, wants to use them to help others. If you have unused gift cards (or cards with just a few dollars left on them), you can wri! te the remaining balance on the card and send it to Gift C ard Giver.
They’ll distribute them to non-profit organizations that will put them into
the hands of people in need.

Author: Jesse Carey And Elizabeth Sloan


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