How to survive the festive season
Don’t you think it’s time that Christmas holidays came with a health warning? Signs reading something like ‘This season can be dangerous to your health’ could be displayed in shopping malls and retail outlets.
So why this party pooper attitude?
Too many people are bullied and exhausted by what is supposed to be a happy and regenerative break. Christmas is generally more about business opportunity than religious significance. But that’s not it. Emotionally, we’ve come to expect so much of this time of year. Everyone is supposed to have a frantically good time, and if you’re not going somewhere exotic you should be revelling in family reunions.
Stress triggers accumulate during the festive season: the pressure to prepare the perfect Christmas lunch, traffic, in-laws, a child about to start school or just finished matric, arguments with your partner, other people’s babies or pets in your home… do you feel the tension increase and your fuse about to blow as you read this? You know it’s coming.
Christmas is also one of those times when uninvited moments of quiet and reflection creep up on one. I know people who find the last week of the year a bleak, difficult time. Memories of happier days sneak back. Maybe they are alone. Maybe family undercurrents that remain hidden during the year burst to the surface with the help of alcohol and social adrenalin. Not surprisingly, psychologists report an increase in broken relationships following the emotional pressure-cooking of ‘the festive season’.
So how do you survive the season that’s meant to be jolly? For what it’s worth, here are some strategies from friends and colleagues who have honed this stuff with annual practice.
- If you want to do the full traditional thing but are overwhelmed by the load, call in the cavalry. Rope in neighbours, relatives, and friends. Even children and spouses will rally round if you honest up about what you need. Do what it takes to lighten the load. For the sake of our health, we can no longer afford to waste time on pretension and perfectionism.
- Anticipate the emotional trip wires. If domestic feuds are simmering, go into a holding pattern until the New Year. Include peacemakers on your guest list. If you love being on your own all year but not over Christmas, don’t leave it to the night before to invite friends round.
- Remember to take time for yourself too. Try saying ‘no’ sometimes – you don’t have to go to every function that you’re invited to (and neither do your partner or children). Take time out for a relaxing bath – take time to just be with yourself. Be present in the moment… don’t let your holiday fly by without you. ‘I don’t know exactly how I will deal with this, but I know I can’ sounds like a good start. Find (or re-find) time for relaxation, yoga, a mid-afternoon nap, an after-dinner walk outside, or to do nothing at all.
I mentioned in my last letter that I will highlight some of my favourite products, equipment, therapies, places, books, modalities and links to all of them. I am busy with an annual detox right now, before publishing the article Our Environment demands an Annual Detox in the next issue. And this one is working! I feel awful, but so much is shifting. I won't do justice to the product feature now, but will share soon.
I wish you and your family and friends a healthy, peaceful and loving festive season.
Yours in Healthy Living