Tips for Looking After Your Wellbeing Over the Holiday Season

13/12/22 – Blog

Tis the season to be jolly… but what if you’re not feeling it? 

While a lot of us look forward to Christmas, many people find this time of year a real struggle. If you’re already feeling low or lonely, all the enforced jollity and merriment can magnify these feelings and make them seem more acute. Meanwhile, the mad dash preparing for the big day, on top of all the socialising and late nights, can leave many of us feeling stressed, anxious and exhausted.  

So, how can you look after your wellbeing during the holidays and avoid the festive season fallout? 

Here are our top tips!  

Get your daily dose of sunshine  

During winter, when the temperatures drop and the days are shorter, we all tend to spend much more time cooped up inside. But being out in the natural light is important for both our physical and mental health. Sunlight plays an essential role in many processes within the body. It helps us to produce vitamin D, which is necessary for the proper functioning of the immune system; it stimulates the brain’s production and release of a hormone called serotonin, which helps to regulate our mood and emotions; and it also has a powerful effect on our internal body clock, which controls how sleepy or alert we feel at different times of day. 

Over the holidays, try to spend some time outside every day, ideally as soon as possible after you wake up to really maximise the positive effects (just be sure to wrap up warm). Whether it’s sitting out in your garden with a cup of tea or going for a short walk in the park, just 15-20 minutes will be enough to boost your mood. However, it may not be sufficient at this time of year to support optimal vitamin D production, so you might also want to consider taking a supplement. For more information on this, visit the NHS website

Give your comfort food a gut-friendly boost  

Research has shown a strong link between our gut health and our mental health. When the weather gets cold, it’s natural to crave comfort food, and it’s all too easy to over-indulge on festive fare over the holidays. While allowing yourself a few treats is fine, try to keep some balance and give your meals a gut-friendly boost by choosing wholegrain versions of your favourites and adding in extra fruit and veg where you can. As well as being packed with nutrients that help support a healthy immune system, these foods contain lots of probiotics (beneficial bacteria) and prebiotics (the dietary fibres that feed them), both of which are essential for cultivating and maintaining a healthy gut. You don’t always have to opt for fresh either – frozen and tinned fruit and veg is just as nutritious and is often kinder on the wallet too. 

Set clear boundaries and stick to them  

In the run up to the holidays, many of us feel under pressure to attend every festive get-together or event and spend more than we planned trying to create the perfect Christmas. But taking on too much and stretching yourself financially can leave you feeling overwhelmed and stressed. It’s therefore important to set clear boundaries and prioritise your needs.  

It’s OK to politely decline that invite to another party or family gathering if you need some ‘me-time’ to rest and re-set at home. It’s also fine to opt out of exchanging gifts with friends and family if you can’t afford it (just be sure to tell them in advance that you don’t want to do presents this year). By focusing on looking after your wellbeing, rather than trying to keep up with the festive frenzy, you’ll save yourself a lot of unnecessary stress and worry and have a much more enjoyable time. 

Celebrate the holidays the way you want to 

Many of us have an expectation about what Christmas should look like and how we should feel, often based on long-held family traditions or what we see in adverts and films. When these expectations don’t match up with reality, it can leave us feeling flat or like we’re letting people down. But there are no set rules when it comes to celebrating the holidays, so don’t feel like you have to ‘perform’ or pretend to be enjoying yourself to please others. If the Christmas spirit is alluding you this year, for whatever reason, don’t berate yourself, just accept it and focus instead on doing the things that you love and that will make you feel better.  

Remember, though, that if you are struggling with your mental health or finding it difficult to cope, it’s important to talk to someone. If you don’t have a family member or friend you feel able to open up to, try contacting your employer’s EAP service or a charity like the Samaritans, who will always have someone available to listen to you and support you.  

Structure your days  

Over the holiday season, it’s tempting to spend all your time wrapped up on the sofa in front of the TV, especially if you’re not feeling great. But while it can be comforting, shutting yourself up at home all the time and not having any structure to your day may actually end up making you feel worse. With nothing to focus on, we have more time to ruminate on negative thoughts and things that may be worrying us. Looking back and feeling like we haven’t ‘achieved’ anything or like we’ve wasted the day can also leave us feeling guilty, disorganised and out of control.   

Try to keep a bit of routine and plan something in each day to look forward to, whether it’s allowing yourself time to indulge in your favourite hobby, going out to an exercise class, meeting a friend for a coffee or signing up to volunteer for a charity or community project. Having a sense of purpose and being among other people is crucial for our wellbeing and will help you to feel more grounded and connected and really benefit your self-esteem.   

We hope you find these tips helpful for looking after your wellbeing this holiday season. 

Learn more about the wide range of wellbeing services and programmes available through Medigold Health and how we can support your business.

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