by Steffen Messerschmidt, ND, Brisbane, Australia
Over the years I have been observing the effects the ‘Silly Season’ has on our health. IT JUST DOES NOT MAKE SENSE TO ME – neither personally nor professionally.
It is supposedly the festival of Love – just for one day, but I see more unloving things and effects then, than at any other time of the year. So this is what I see every year – year after year – and nothing is changing!
Here is a look at my own Christmas beliefs from the past to present:
As a child, I thought Christmas was a magical time – growing up in New York there were tons of lights, decorations and everybody around me made an effort to be nice to me. Well it took me a while, as a child, to realize that the Santa Claus thing was fake and mostly everything was just put on and a show.
I also loved the Christmas decorations as a child and this carried into adulthood. My home and the clinic always had lots of decorations and glamour until a few years ago.
As a child, I visited the ‘real’ Santa in upstate New York, where they had created a North Pole village and Santa was an old man with a real beard, not the fake ones from the shopping centres – those guys were just Santa’s helpers because he was too busy preparing for the 25th there was no way he could hang around in every shopping centre!
As a practitioner I saw all the things listed below, but it took me a while to let go of the ideals & beliefs I still held about Christmas.
It doesn’t make sense to me now that we need a day to be nice to each other and have fun getting together – that can happen any day.
Today I see it as a time of the year to enjoy summer and meet with friends and to have a short break if possible, as it is a very busy time of the year for anybody involved in health care.
Now here are my observations as a practitioner:
– Stress to get work ready and all done before the holiday
– Stress to get all presents and organized for that one day
– Stress on someone in the family (mostly mum) to cook & bake for it all
– Stress if there is no family to stress about
– Stress because we are sleeping less and not recovering due to lots of social, work and family events
– Madness in Christmas shopping to find the perfect gifts for our ‘loved ones’
– People already get tired and lethargic in the process leading up to X-mas and that just accumulates when they actually make it to X-mas and New Year
– One day or let’s say two or three (Christmas Day, Boxing Day & New Year’s) of total indulgence, disregard and accumulation of unloving choices
– Eat too much unhealthy food and for some, even too much healthy food
– Drink too much
– Get emotional and stuff comes up that was not addressed the whole year because family members did not all meet up and now, as they all are together, stuff that was unresolved bubbles up
– Discussions flare up – often made worse because of the effects of alcohol
– Emotions, anxiety, depression increase – also for the ones who do not have a family to get together
– Increase of domestic violence, suicides and mental health issues
After X-Mas – this lasts way into late January and beyond:
– Feeling bloated, lethargic, nausea, no energy, put on weight and symptoms flare up again …
– Patients with chronic disease, cancer or auto-immune disease, who are going well before Christmas and are symptom-free and on maintenance programmes, go off them and trigger their symptoms – they decide to eat just this piece of cheesecake, drink alcohol for New Year’s or smoke a couple of cigarettes …because it is ‘tradition’
– Blood sugar levels which were under control before X-mas go up because they ate too much or chose the wrong foods.
– New Year’s resolutions –are to get healthy and work hard to reverse all the damage done over X-mas and New Year. Yet…..the following year we go and do it all again … !
I am sure you get the picture by now. This list has just some examples; however it could go on and fill a book.
I am sure every practitioner would be able to share the same experience. To me all this seems really not worth it, so I would rather recommend living each day lovingly without all the punishment we inflict on ourselves – this would be like Christmas every day and a true festival of Love.
It totally makes sense why we call it the ‘Silly Season’, because we put in so much extra effort to treat ourselves in such an unloving way. What else other than ‘silly’ could we call this?
376 thoughts on “The Silly Season and its Effects on Health”
Christmas has long lost its original meanings. It highlights how much we can follow the crowd and get involved with behaviours that are unsupportive. What do we get out of keeping this status quo going?
“Emotions, anxiety, depression increase – also for the ones who do not have a family to get together.” The one day of Christmas has so much pressure on it to be special, including the pressure to cook, socialise, eat, drink, buy things…. no wonder tensions can erupt on the day, we can be emotionally and physically wrecked before it happens! If the day doesn’t meet our expectations then also that’s a pressure and more reaction. As you say Steffen it’s better to make each day special by bringing our love to ourselves and others as best we can.
It makes sense that tension rises at Christmas given the pressure we put ourselves under to achieve certain tasks by a certain date and that on that day many can go into comparison and jealousy if they don’t have what they feel is enough money to cover costs or to be generous. All of this is a huge distraction from what it is really about, simply being with and enjoying family and loved ones. If we took a way the gifts, the TV and the indulgences we would simply have to make it about connection. Keeping things simple is a joy.
I can remember a very special day Michelle, I was invited over to a friends for a family Christmas because I was living on my own. We all met up before lunch. It was snowing hard and we all went for a walk in the snow which was so stilling, has anyone else noticed how snow falling has a very stilling effect on our bodies. No one bought Christmas presents for each other. The food was amazing, everyone helped to clean away and then we had lots of board games to play. It was a very gentle day. I followed the snow plough home which was God sent, or I wouldn’t have got home. It is still the most amazing Christmas experience from 41 years ago. When we come together to enjoy each other’s company whether it be Christmas or eating a meal together everyday, it has the potential to be the best tonic ever.
As I read this blog, I could feel how I was part of the statistics immersed in the silly season, once upon a time. And to be honest, it was ridiculous the gorging on food and alcohol and there was a false sense of excitement, celebrating one man and then the spiral down period, straight after. The hype that still continues, and the unnecessary millions of dollars spent on gifts is ludicrous, just for one day.
I totally agree, we can celebrate one another anytime of the year, we don’t need a particular day, month or a man to do this. We just need to be getting together for our own reasons and that is to be with each other – simple.
Great observations on the silliness of the holiday season Steffen. And you actually helped me realise something that I had been wondering since I was about 5 years old (over 40 years ago!). That is, that I distinctly remember a certain Christmas where even though we had all the decorations, I received all kinds of presents and all, there was a deep feeling of unease and almost a sense of depression that I was feeling, which may seem incongruent to my actual life situation back then. But what I realised after reading Steffen’s description of all the things he has observed in people around the Christmas season is that I was (and still am) super sensitive and very aware at that tender age, and was merely picking up on all the emotions and discontent that surrounded me, not only in my own household, but around the world. This now makes sense to me and feels more honouring of what I felt back then. Thank you Steffen!
At Christmas in the UK we have just passed the shortest day and the light shines a little longer each day, so it is an opportunity to come together to reflect on the year that is completing and welcome whatever the coming year offers.
Keeping Christmas simple, and just sharing each other’s company with great food is such a lovely way to spend this time of year, and brings a true quality to it that keeps it real and unstressful.
Sandra I like this idea, ‘keeping Christmas simple’. It is a public holiday time and we don’t need or have to buy into what everyone else is doing. But use this time to be with one another with the foods that support us. Can you imagine, Christmas without alcohol and gluttony, a few businesses would probably go bankrupt.