Would you believe it? December is upon us already! How quickly the landscape can be bursting with green and little explosions of colour one moment and then in the relative blink of an eye the trees can be reduced to skeletal husks of their former selves, weeping the occasional rust coloured leaf. The winter can be a magical time! The blanket of snow and frost that coats the streets and foliage lends everything a romantic greetings card appearance while the palette of scent that comes with the season is something that everyone looks forward to.
Yes, friends, the charms of the festive season are best enjoyed through the nose. As you walk through your garden the crisp tang of pine, the subtle licorice notes of witch hazel, the lemony sharpness of winter honeysuckle and the delicate honey sweet scent of Sarcococca (also known as Sweet Box or Christmas Box) are a great way to imbibe the Christmas spirit while the streets of every major conurbation will be awash with the sweet smell of franchise bar toffee nut lattes, mulled wine and roasting chestnuts.
There’s a lot to fall in love with when it comes to the Christmas season, but Christmas most assuredly has a dark side, too! The dark and cold of the season can often precipitate the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder. This seasonal form of depression can wash out the sense of joy and colour that comes with the season, causing us to focus relentlessly on the negative and robbing us of the energy to go about our day or enjoy our work and leisure activities. The lifestyle choices inflicted on us in the name of tradition don’t help much either. Boozy office parties, Christmas day gluttony and pressure spending on gifts for the family can ensure that we see in the New Year feeling sad, hung over, bloated, poor and ashamed. This is a pity, because it’s easy to have a fantastically enjoyable festive season without the need for any of the unpleasant consequences. Here’s how…
Reign in the spending
For many of us, Christmas means leaning heavily on credit cards, burrowing into overdrafts and spending excessively on gifts for our kids, friends and family. Unfortunately, it’s become the norm to substitute love and consideration for monetary value. It’s perfectly easy to make sure that everyone gets a loving gift at Christmas, without it coming at the expense of your financial wellbeing.
First, you need to work out your relationship with spending. Are you trying to overcompensate for something? Will the recipient even appreciate your expenditure? Be careful who you shop with as some friends, however well meaning can be ambivalent or even encouraging when it comes to recklessness.
Try to buy for everyone you can but focus on smaller, more inexpensive but thoughtful and considerate gifts that come from the heart. Making presents or greetings cards wherever you can is not only creatively satisfying but shows a great deal of love. After all, what could be more special than a unique gift made, baked, cooked or crafted just for you?
Resist the urge to become a hermit
When the days grow darker and colder it can be all too tempting to spend what little free time you have holed up in the house under a cocoon of blankets, however this is hardly the best way to enjoy the season. Combatting SAD is much easier if you’re active and getting out and about. Try and get out for a walk whenever you can and indulge in any leisure activity other than shopping. Get out to see friends or failing that just be among people in a cafe or bar.
Better still, take some time to volunteer your time and effort to help someone who may not be having the best Christmas. Volunteering at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen or taking some time out to help the elderly are a noble and life affirming way to spend your free time.
Don’t wait till January to look after yourself
It’s all too common for us to give ourselves a free pass at the end of the year, forgoing our commitment to the gym, sports teams and healthy eating in favour of festive gluttony and overindulgence on intoxicants. Don’t wait to join the self-loathing masses back at the gym in January. Instead, maintain your fitness regime and make sure that you’re loading your plate with healthy foods. The more you drop your standards now, the harder you’ll have to work when the new year comes.
Wishing you a healthy Christmas
For a lot of us, Christmas dinner is a bittersweet experience. We love eating it, but we know that we’ll punish ourselves for it later. There is, however, no reason why Christmas dinner can’t be lean, nutritious and full of goodness while still being a satisfying and delicious meal to enjoy with your family. Moreover, a delicious Christmas dinner needn’t come at the cost of animal suffering, intensive farming and reduced sustainability. More and more people all over the world are switching to a vegan diet for health and ethical reasons and a vegan Christmas dinner can be every bit as luxurious and delicious as an omnivorous dinner. Swap the turkey, chipolatas and cheeses for any of these delicious alternatives and you’ll find yourself every bit as satisfied without the uncomfortable bloating and sense of shame.
Christmas cheer should not be a euphemism
Christmas cheer should allude to the magical feeling we get when we’re around our loved ones at this special time of year. However, it’s become a euphemism for the seasonal spike in alcohol intake. The season is tragically rife with drunk driving and alcohol related antisocial behaviour. If you find yourself injured by a drunk driver or similar accident you should contact a personal injury lawyer like Craig Swapp & Associates, but you can also help by being part of the solution. Exercising restraint when it comes to the bottle at Christmas, and encouraging others to do the same will ensure that your festive memories aren’t soured by hangovers, arguments or embarrassing memories.
It’s all about family
Remember what’s most important at Christmas and everything else will fall into place. It’s about family, love and togetherness. It’s about generosity, charity and goodwill to others. Everything else is window dressing!