The festive season can be a very busy time when our normal routines are interrupted, leading to many behaviours and situations that may cause stress, anxiety and/or depression. We list 5 areas that can help improve your chances of a pleasant festive season.
The festive season can be a period of over indulgence and the combination of too much alcohol, food and generally poor nutrition can play havoc with a person’s mood. It is important to maintain a healthy diet, including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables minimising sweet, fatty and salty treats is one measure you can take.
Gary’s tip: Eat before you go out. Eat before you become famished – you will most probably make a better food choice if you eat before you are intoxicated. Keep food in the fridge, for example some salad, some dates, humous, artichokes, sauerkraut, tomatoes and wraps. When I get a little peckish I build a healthy wrap.
During this time some people, particularly those who work in stressful occupations like mental health care, may use alcohol as a means of coping with seasonal pressures. Research suggests that the use of illicit drugs during this period also sky rockets. Victims from the day after a big night out are legendary. We all know alcohol should be consumed in moderation and a glass of water between drinks can reduce levels of intoxication and many potentially embarrassing days to follow. Alcohol is a depressant with a proven negative impact on moods which can also contribute to lack of sleep.
Gary’s tip: Don’t keep alcohol in the fridge. Don’t drink at home or alone. This can reduce your weekly alcohol usage. Save your partying for when there is someone to party with. This whole idea of going out and getting wasted – I don’t really get it.
This can be a time of considerable expense, and the financial strain associated with buying gifts, food and travelling to visit loved ones and can have a huge impact on your stress, anxiety and depression levels. At this time of year you will be under considerable pressure to entertain, buy gifts and socialise. One technique that can often help is to become familiar with the word ‘NO’ and for your own mental health learn to use it.
Gary’s tip: Your friends and family will still love you even though you didn’t mortgage the house to buy their present. Learn to say NO to consumerism. Consider home-made gifts, I like to make muesli, sauerkraut, roll bees wax candles. Although in saying this my 5 year old still wants a bike for Christmas.
The expectations of a loving family get together over the festive season are often shattered and can take years to resolve. They can be intensely stressful to organise and the catalyst for some heavy duty family conflict. They can lead to serious infighting that has been brewing for decades and side taking, that ultimately splits the family.
My tip – Be cool, lose the powerplay and take five deep slow release diaphragm breaths before you get involved. Ask yourself does it really matter – who cares if someone cooks the turkey for 15 minutes or 20 minutes extra to brown the skin. Have empathy and respect for the person who juggled your gathering together. Take the reality check, who really cares and does it really matter and be grateful that you have family and friends to be with.
The festive season is traditionally a time for getting together with friends and loved ones and the expectation of being part of a loving social network can make coping with isolation very difficult.
Gary’s tip: If it is looking like another lonely Christmas, get in early and see who is holding an orphans Christmas – if you can’t find one, create your own. To spread the word, spend the money you would usually spend on presents and do some advertising. Activate Yourself – this could potentially be the best Christmas you have ever had.