The Silly Season and its Effects on Health

by Steffen Messerschmidt, Naturopathic Doctor, 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:

Before X-Mas:

–       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

At X-Mas:

–       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?


343 thoughts on “The Silly Season and its Effects on Health

  1. The fact that Christmas increases DV, suicides and mental health issues says it all really. The money spent at this time of year to make people seemingly feel good for one day, is not worth it if this is the fall out and surely could be better spent elsewhere to support these issues. The truly sad thing about it however, is that regardless of the harm caused, like that exposed by your list, we just keep doing it again over and over, making you wonder how bad things have to be before we stop and ask if the way we approach Christmas is really good for our health.

  2. The things we do so that we fit in and do what the masses are doing, and also there’s that feeling of excitement because we are going to get something. It’s no wonder we then have to feel the emptiness when it’s all over. I remember someone saying to me quite some time ago, that their life had no meaning, they didn’t enjoy their job and so on, then they said, oh well, it will be xmas soon so that’s something to look forward to, a bit of excitement. This made me feel really sad because I could feel how trapped they were inside, only seeing their life from a feeling of no love or joy.

    1. Yes, it is true, we look forward to things and pretend reality isn’t reality. I know that January is a hard time for many around the world, perhaps it is related to the illusion of a New Year’s resolution that, if you wobble or perhaps ‘fail’ then adds to the list of things that haven’t worked and so the self beat up starts again.

  3. It is complete illusion that just because of ‘festive season’, occasion or celebration it doesn’t matter what we do, how we behave or what we eat or drink. It is just total indulgence really .. only to then feel completely rubbish about 1 week later. When I was younger I used to think Christmas was a magical time and in some ways I still do like it because of the lights everywhere in the winter nights and people seem to make a bit more of an effort to see each other; but every day should be about Love not just a few days in the year!

    1. There is always a catch up with the body when one choose to use ‘festive season’ as the reason why one can live less of the natural health and well being that radiates from within.

  4. I still have a romantic concept about Christmas, I was not raised to buy into it all. Mum and Dad were open with the fact there was no Santa from the beginning but I remember my parents telling me a story of the real Saint Nic. That he was a giver but a very real and normal man, with no sleigh or reindeer, but he would help poor children out with items they needed. Saint Nic was known for his green and white attire, not red and white, it was Coke that changed his colours for marketing and cross promotional reasoning. One-year Mum painted a Sun in place of a tree but we complained about no tree so the next year Dad put a gumtree up. My parents would share that a white Christmas was just American propaganda to promote mass consumerism and they were right but still I was able to cling on to what I thought Christmas offered. I never really considered its impacts from a health care perspective. I think what I love, loved about it, was that it was people all over the world all making an effort to see their family and connect. All of your points are so valid though, I just love the idea that for at least one day we can drop our differences and share a meal, some laughter and songs. The problem is, we are not truly connecting, we are eating and drinking food that disconnects us from our body and there fore, from each other.

    1. I agree with the coming together, enjoying not only a meal but the company of those we live with, not necessarily those that we share a home with because I’ve been to friends/ex-partners or had people I’d never met before next to me at Xmas. But as I and my immediate family live more lovingly with ourselves when we do come together it is like xmas where we are with each other, regardless of the day or season.

  5. It’s incredibly ridiculous to put so much pressure on ourselves in the name of love, family and celebration. It’s the complete opposite to all we are trying to achieve at that time of year. If one stopped to ponder on this many more question would arise.

  6. Imagine if for the whole Christmas season we blessed ourselves with the commitment to deepen our appreciation and love our bodies – I have a feeling it would be so much more powerful than any new year’s resolution we can ever create.

  7. There is such an irony in the way that we put so much emphasis on this time of year, that is supposed to be about family and friends coming together and celebrating each other, but that so often turns out to be the complete opposite. You have totally exposed it all here Steffen. Thankyou for bringing such common sense to this very over-rated topic.

  8. When I read through the list of behaviours that has become the norm at Christmas time it occurs to me that it is all designed to be avoiding something. What could we be avoiding? Could it be the stop and the end of a year and the reflection and honesty that this brings us?

  9. We seem to have a knack to compartmentalise events into one day. Christmas is top of the tree so to speak followed by New Year’s Eve, then to express love to others for a day in February. Then we celebrated his birth, so it is a day for his death on Easter. In different countries we find other things to honour to ensure we have some extra days off with pay. Why not honour everything every day?

  10. This really exposes how the non-silly way is to live a loving and joyful life consistently and not make it all about one day as that clearly does not work.

  11. It is ludicrous how we can abandon ourselves in the lead up to Christmas and abuse the body in a way that we wouldn’t normally. Taking part in it as a way of a habit as this is what happens every year. To clock this and be able to say no to all the things we truly know are not great for us is what I have come to understand essential and no other way to live.

  12. Oh wow this is so true, and it is that time of year and the silly season is fast approaching! This year in my home town some shops were advertising Christmas in summer!
    Every day is an absolute blessing – what a waste to wait for just one day of the year.

  13. As we approach December this sense of excitement and over indulgence is already in the air and has been building since the beginning of October in some shops. It is incredible how much pressure we put upon our selves, and how much it is encouraged and enticed from the retail industry and elsewhere, to build up the anticipation and expectations of just one day. How much more loving and true would it be if we were to make everyday a day when we fully appreciated someone for who they are, and not just wait until Christmas.

  14. Very interesting that just one day in a year can be a trigger to so many things – the excitement, the stress, the increased level of disregard, the need/desire for being nice to each other etc. etc. It really makes us question how we are living the rest of the year to have that avalanche of stress every year, doesn’t it?

  15. Something I have begun observing for myself in relation to Christmas is in particular how I am being with my body and how I have already chosen to eat foods that I know don’t support my body. There is a very insidious indulgence energy in the air that I have allowed in to affect my choices. Very quickly my body is showing me that indulgence is not its true nature. Steady, constant, true care is. So a very clear learning for me is to allow myself to feel the energy of indulgence, but to not bring indulge in it..

    1. Yes I noticed this too Leigh, I was drawn to eat plum pudding at my workplace. I only had 3 sultanas that were winking at me from the plate but I had a desire in me to eat a whole piece…what is going on? I could feel this energy it is thick and cloying and very seductive and it was as if tentacles were coming to engulf me but I escaped, just. I know if I succumbed to the indulgences that abound at this time of year I would be very sick, dulled and heavy. It is just not worth it.

  16. You know, I have to say I have considered this with a fresh light – it is the silly season isn’t it?! We do such silly things that harm ourselves others and our bodies when we see it as a time of indulgence rather than a time of reflection and connection. This year I will make more space for that and see it as a foundation for coming months…years… 🙂

  17. I love how ridiculous it all looks on paper. We never talk about just how silly we can actually be, all in the name of fun and tradition. I once had to tell some ‘in law’ family members that as my partner and I lived in a dry house, we weren’t comfortable with them bringing their favourite Xmas drink. It was quite a difficult concept for them to understand as the tight grip they had on this one tradition was so ingrained that they felt as though they were going to miss out on a connection between themselves because they didn’t have the drink to connect them. But, this is how it is for so many families. People don’t like to break away from tradition, even if it means it might actually allow you the space to come closer together and just enjoy each others company without the indulgence.

  18. Christmas has a huge effect on people, I remember my brother telling me he had two Christmas dinners on Christmas Day, so as not to disappoint either his parents or his parents in law, he had indigestion on Boxing Day, which was a great example for me of how we give our power away to please others, rather than being honest.

  19. Working in a corporate environment (in hospitality) customers are not like tourists who can in my experience be open to a chat. They come for business meetings that are super serious. However mention xmas and there is a massive change and they are more open to chatting. It’s a great reflection for myself to look at – do I need an outside situation to occur in order to open up when it is actually pretty simple?

  20. ‘Love – just for one day’ to me this is not just silly but completely crazy and sad that we make one (or two if you include Valentines day) a day about love. What about the other 363??!!!!

  21. All of the hype and excitement around xmas makes us so dizzy from all the feelings of having to do this or that to please. We have misinterpreted the meaning of togetherness and community which is really what xmas is all about.

  22. There’s a serious mismatch between what we think Christmas represents and it’s true effects. As a practitioner you clearly got to see this disparity at first-hand Steffen. Your words here suggest to me that this disconnect is not ‘just for Christmas’ but is something actually, we have going on all the time. Today’s as good as any to give ourselves the gift of being truthful and honest about what we are putting out.

  23. Yes before we call a period fun or successful we have to look at every-thing and every-part of us and our surroundings and how they are before and after that period.

  24. Labelling Christmas the ‘Silly Season’ feels like a tacit acknowledgment of the fact that we seem to lose all reason at this time of year and make choices that are even more detrimental to our health than normally. The fact that so often we repeat this year after year just shows how unwilling we are to recognise our patterns and make changes that would be beneficial. Having been ill over much of the last few weeks has given me the opportunity to expose where I am still invested in being part of this mad ‘merry-go-round’ and where I will be making different choices next time.

  25. It feels we are kidding ourselves at our own detriment when we supposedly commit to a ‘healthy’ lifestyle and then throw it all away at Christmas time. It shows that our commitment whilst earnest may not be entirely true go our body and that we have not truly dealt with the issues at play

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