Tips for surviving the festive season

Photo by danaberlith via Fickr, under Creative Commons License

Photo by danaberlith via Fickr, under Creative Commons License

For a whole host of reasons, the festive season can be a difficult time for many. Here are just some of the reasons why:

  • Loneliness: It is very common to feel lonely and isolated during the festive season when it appears that everyone else is enjoying themselves with their family and friends. If you live alone, have lost someone close through bereavement, or if you live at a distance from family and friends, it is understandable that you may feel very lonely.
  • Debt and money worries: There is a lot of pressure to spend money at this time of year and it is all too easy to spend more than you actually have. This can lead to increased stress and strain on you and on your family and relationships.
  • Families: Spending time with families at this time of year can be very stressful. Pressures may come from spending time with relatives that you don’t get on with, family feuds and arguments, issues to do with step families or blended families, disagreements about children, etc. If your relationship is already under a strain then the additional pressures of the festive season can bring things to a head.
  • Alcohol: Many people enjoy a drink at this time of year and alcohol plays a big part in ‘festive cheer’. However if you are someone who has difficulties with alcohol, or someone you are close to has these difficulties, then this can be a very hard time. Alcohol heightens our emotions and can lead to arguments and violence. Excessive alcohol use can lower our mood and make us feel physically unwell. Also be aware that your blood alcohol level may still exceed the legal limit for driving the morning after a night out.
  • Depression: If you are already feeling low, being surrounded by so much good cheer can make things seem even worse and it is not unusual for depression to worsen at this time of year. Suicides rise at this time of year as people imagine others nestling in the bosom of happy families and feel that they are the only ones not having a good time.

It’s not generally possible to escape the festivities altogether, but here are some tips on relieving the pressure:

  • Don’t try to please everyone all of the time.
  • Have realistic expectations. If your family isn’t generally harmonious, it is unreasonable to expect that things will be different during the festive period.
  • Only spend what you can afford – it’s not worth getting into debt because of Christmas.
  • Don’t assume that everyone else is having a wonderful time – lots of people are not!
  • Don’t bottle up your emotions, but try to talk to someone you trust.
  • Try to strike a balance between the festive treats and some healthy foods.
  • Get outside in the fresh air and take some exercise – it may help you feel better.
  • Try to find time for yourself – even if it is only to have a bath.
  • Try to politely say ‘no’ to the demands of relatives.

Balancing the festive season and work can be tricky, but looking after our health is crucial at this time of year. For advice about health issues related to work, contact view the resources on the Health for Work Adviceline website.

Our thanks to ‘Workplace Health and Wellbeing’ at Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust for allowing us to use content taken from their guide to surviving the festive season for this blog.

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