At live presentations this month I have been asking the audience “Who is looking forward to Christmas”? A number of hands go up. The next question is Who is looking forward to Christmas being…over? A second set of hands goes up.
If I asked a group of year one school children the same questions all hands would go up the first time. The reason that some of us look forward to Christmas being over is of course stress.
It is a slightly sad reflection on society that so many people see Christmas as a stressful time. Yet as I have said before “stress is not about events themselves but what we make of them”
At one level Christmas is a day of the year like any other. At another it is a day of celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. At a third level it is a secular celebration with gifts and get togethers. Finally there is the “festive season” which can start in mid November involving a series of events at which one may eat and drink.
The biggest stress issues around Christmas are weight gain from overindulging, bank balance loss from overspending and anxiety from interacting with those who you would prefer not too.
So this year rather than Survive Christmas why not enjoy Christmas. There is much that can be done to make sure you enjoy Christmas based on the 8 Pillars of DIY health.
- Each day spend 30 seconds to take 3 slow deep breaths do this at least 4 times a day. This will reduce stress.
- Drink water. Before you go to a function have a glass or two of water. Keep yourself hydrated. If at a party alternate water with alcoholic drinks.
- Finger food is notoriously high in calories. Eat a carrot or other piece of vegetable before you go out. This way you will not be as hungry and hence you will eat less.
- Keep active. Do some walking or other exercise everyday (or at least 3 times a week).
- Don’t be the last to leave. You need your sleep.
- Realize you have choices about whom you see and what you buy. Your stress levels will be a function of your choices not the “world out there”. Be honest with yourself and others about what you can and can’t reasonably do.
- Buy your Christmas presents with cash. That way you know you can afford them and you won’t stress about the credit card bill in January. Only buy gifts for people you really want to give one to.
- Christmas is a time for goodwill to all but if you really don’t like spending time with certain people (even if they are your family) then it may still be better not to. Be polite but firm in declining invitations. Make sure you spend time with those you really care about If there is “no way out” then say to yourself “this too will pass” as often as needed. It will pass and by adopting this approach you will not stress.
- Christmas day lunch is a meal. If you are having people around you don’t need more food than if they were coming any other day. If it’s a big gathering have everyone contribute a plate. You don’t have to eat till you feel like you will “explode”
- For some the preferred option is to “cancel” Christmas and just go to ground and emerge again on December 27.
- Have fun. Children enjoy Christmas. There is no reason adults can’t do the same. Allow yourself to be a child again. Pop crackers enjoy unwrapping presents and playing with the wrapping paper.
- Consider having some “purpose” around Christmas. Maybe do some volunteer work? Perhaps reflect on what you can do to be a better person or how you can contribute to your community.
For virtually everyone there was a time when Christmas meant fun. Somewhere along the line this has been lost for some of us. This year ask yourself what needs to happen for me to enjoy Christmas as much as when I was six years old? Then go and have fun.
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases.