With Christmas fast-approaching, employers across the country brace themselves for the ups and downs that the festive season can bring.
Whilst the holidays can offer the chance to recharge the batteries, the overindulgence can create more downsides than upsides – and if not managed properly, can cause unwanted problems at work through the physical and mental problems that can potentially arise.
The purpose of this month’s article is to try and give some pointers for having a happy, healthy Christmas.
Staying physically healthy against the odds
One of the biggest problems with Christmas is that almost every aspect of the celebrations involves eating unhealthy food, drinking alcohol, or being sedentary. Here’s a few tips to counter balance the scales:
• Make an active effort to get out for a walk every day after your meals to aid digestion. Or if you can figure out how to build the kids’ new bikes – make sure they use them!
• Pace the booze. It’s easy to get carried away with drinking in the morning, at lunch and dinner – try keeping tabs on things and intersperse alcoholic drinks with soft ones.
• Watch the calories. It’s estimated that an average Christmas lunch contains more calories than an average male needs in an entire day. Rather than going back for seconds, take a break and come back for more if you’re really still hungry. This will give your brain enough time to register that your belly is full.
• Keep the vitamin levels high – the cold weather mixed with lots of visitors means that the spread of colds and flu is rife. Minimise your risk by eating plenty of fruit (chocolate orange does not count) and try to get a good night’s sleep.
Protecting your mental health
The festive cheer that many enjoy is not always the case for some. Christmas brings obvious financial pressure, as well as the reality of family feuds and in many examples, the difficulty of facing the festive period alone (sometimes for the first time if bereaved or recently separated). Protecting your mental health during what can be a stressful time for many can be helped with the following tips:
• Be selective with your time – you can’t please all of the people all of the time. My tip would be to only attend the events that really mean something to you, or make you feel good.
• Make time for ‘you’. A night in alone with a movie or an early night will do you the world of good. Why not book a day just for you, veto the family errands or last minute shopping and spend a day doing what relaxes you.
• Catch up over coffee, not beer. Although it’s easy to have every interaction in the pub, why not meet for lunch or have a dry day instead. It’s no secret that over drinking can lead to depression, anxiety, worsen sleep and intensify negative emotions.
• Be realistic about family gatherings. Family conflict at Christmas is common but can lead to long-lasting mental health issues. If it’s getting too much, go for a walk, listen to music (or read some of the books your long lost Aunt bought you for Christmas).
• Use the downtime to reflect – and perhaps set some realistic goals for the coming year.
Give a helping hand
There are some very easy things that can be done to give something back during the holiday season. These include:
• Volunteering. Whether it’s helping at your local homeless shelter, or packing presents for underprivileged children, there are many ways to get involved in your local community. National charities like the Samaritans always look for help at Christmas.
• Donate instead of sending cards. It’s now possible to make a donation for the money you would have spent on Christmas cards. Not only does this help worthy causes but it also helps to cut down on unnecessary paper usage.
• Buy ethically. It’s easy to look out for ethically sourced food and gifts. The RSPCA and Red Tractor both certify ethically sourced foods, making it easy for you to buy responsibly.
• Help the lonely. Another way of volunteering is to visit an old people’s home, or an elderly person who lives alone. A lot of elderly people have nowhere to go over the festive period and it can end up being extremely lonesome for them. If you have elderly neighbours who find it hard to get out on their own, why not take them for a festive day out or invite them to join you for a Christmas dinner? Helping just one person for a few hours this Christmas could make all the difference.
• It’s easy to take what we have for granted but remember that not everyone is going to be treated this Christmas. It’s more important than ever to give unused tins to your local food bank or donate toiletries, sanitary items and clothes to your local homeless shelter.
ViiSana specialises in implementing wellbeing programmes through the implementation of company-wide Vitality Life and Health insurance. If you would like to discuss your company’s individual health concerns/challenges, or if you would just like to discuss ideas for implementing a programme at your business, please get in touch: