With presents, social events, visiting relatives, and food to organise, many of us feel the pressure to bring everything together, as well as keep it all together. If that’s feeling familiar, and there is a lurking dread then perhaps this is a year you don’t seek to do it all, and instead just do what feels good for you.
The festive season is a great time to connect with family and friends, but it can also be stressful because a packed social calendar can make it difficult to find time for yourself. As an introvert with a people-centric job, I need to be mindful of how I fill my calendar, otherwise, my social batteries will be drained well before Christmas rolls around! My tip is to enjoy all of the festive events this season has to offer, but be sure to regularly block out a bit of “you” time as well. Take your scheduled “you” time as seriously as a social commitment – put it in your calendar or diary to make sure it actually happens! And choose whatever form is most restorative for you. This could be guided relaxation before bed, time for exercise, or a mindful activity you can do to switch off for a few minutes – but try to avoid endless scrolling on social media, as that’s only going to add to the noise.
Prevention is always better than a cure, and making time to manage your stress levels now will put you in good stead to smash those health goals in the new year.
Ashleigh Jones, Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD)
If you have been working on prioritising and improving your health this year, then it is important that you continue to make choices that you are content with. Whether you choose to enjoy Christmas pudding or fruit for dessert, make sure it is on your own terms and not because you are worried about the judgement of others. Often we are told, “live a little” when really what would make us most content with is to be able to say “no thank you” without fearing that others will think you are being too strict.
Likewise, if you want to enjoy the festive season by eating your favourite foods then perhaps you might be worried that others may think poorly of your eating habits. Christmas can often be a time spent eating and drinking with family and friends, ignoring other people’s comments or opinions on your food choices can be a helpful strategy for fostering a healthy relationship with your diet and your body. At the end of the day, you need to do what is best for you.
Sarah Cinar, Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD)
While the silly season can be a lot of fun, we can often find ourselves short on time and spending more money than usual on meals out, Christmas parties, and just food in general.
A helpful way to take the pressure off is to have a rough plan of what your week will look like in terms of your meals, and only shopping for and cooking what you need. This could look like shopping online and getting your groceries delivered, choosing pre-prepared ingredients, or entire pre-prepared meals. Try simplifying breakfast to something consistent every day, and meal-prepping lunches and dinners that can be frozen which also minimises food waste. That way if an impromptu party pops up or you’re feeling the festive fatigue, you won’t have to spend any time cooking or money on expensive takeaways.
Fleur Lesslie, Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD)