The Silly Season and its Effects on Health

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:

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?


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

  1. Yes when you put it like that I can see how we do put a lot of effort into putting ourselves under pressure and stress both physically and emotionally at Christmas which does not make a lot of sense especially when the end of the year could be an opportunity to reflect, recover, rebuild and rest to prepare for the next year.

  2. Great expose Steffen, I would love to hear your blog read out aloud at the many Christmas services that take place – that would give us all something to truly reflect on.

  3. Christmas is commonly a time for people to let loose in terms of diet and overeat, as well as use unhealthy foods and drinks as a feeling of reward. It’s definitely a time of temptations with food and then the ubiquitous New Years Resolutions to try to put it right by losing weight and getting healthy. I used to do these same things and found some elements of Christmas I really enjoyed but as an adult it was definitely a stressful time especially if cooking was a part of my responsibilities. Since I have learned about self care by listening to and respecting my body what I really enjoy is the way I feel from making choices that are really supportive, there is truly nothing greater than feeling connected to myself and inhabiting a body that is being cared for.

  4. It does take a while to unravel the hold that Christmas has on us, I have been doing that over the past few years and I am enjoying being freer of its hold. I am more free to choose what I want to do to than to do what is expected (either by me or others).

  5. Just looking at the list associated with the Christmas stress is enough to know that it is not healthy for us! We gave it all up about twelve years ago and have never looked back – letting go of the Christmas hype and the stress was a great decision for our health.

  6. The stress of Christmas underlies the extraordinary illusion that society lives in… The plethora of advertising and what we are sold as the Christmas spirit… Well it certainly is that.

  7. Christmas and New Year is a bit like a larger macro cycle of what we do to ourselves every day, we think nothing of harming ourselves with food by eating what isn’t truly nourishing or over-eating or drinking alcohol, then we resolve to clean our act up or try a different way and this cycle goes on and on until we stop and reintroduce the absolute care for ourselves back into our lives. Then Christmas, like any day, is an opportunity to be deeply caring, to regenerate and refresh ourselves ready for a new year of opportunities.

  8. Interestingly we have had a long spell of unprecedented hot weather here in the UK this summer, and I have heard several people talk during these summer months of the ‘silly season’. There is certainly an air of people letting their hair down, gaining a false kind of confidence in their general behaviour, with the consumption of alcohol increasing as the sun is shining and there is a feeling of being in ‘holiday mode’. But is it more that this ‘silly season’ is becoming the norm, as it infiltrates into people’s lives during the days weeks months either side of Christmas, so it eventually becomes a continuum rather than happening just once a year?

  9. There is an beauty in the expose of the silly season, as it shows us that we are beyond what we live and that we have put pressure and enormous effort on who we are not. Simply Christmas for example is totally if not fully extracted from what Christ means, and the actual reminder we can use this for to live Christ (which simply means love/brotherhood) on earth every single day !

  10. There were companies sending out suggestions for Christmas a week or so ago and it was only July…Christmas being in December. I agree with Steffen. There is far too much hype. The same is happening in the UK with Halloween and to a lesser extent with Easter but we have created Black Tuesday, another day to get wound up about…. and just about every day has a cause attached to it now. Amazing it is that we want to make complex a life that could be so simple and have space in it for so much more enjoyment.

  11. The level of stress that the general way people experience Christmas is ludicrous … I used to be like that getting all caught up with the momentum of how things should be. Saying no to that and keeping in check to what it is I feel like doing with the ones I love has been an a deeper and more genuine celebration together.

  12. A hugely important part of this article is when you highlight the belief that ‘tradition’ is something worth discarding self-caring activities and choices for, even if this means a recurrence of chronic illness as a result.

  13. I’ve noticed something in our family recently. We used to only get everyone together and all cook together at Christmas – it was a big event – but recently i am seeing how we will come together with friends and family and all help and contribute – and it feels like a beautiful sharing all the time not just once a year. Christmas therefore does not have the same huge importance – it just becomes another day of coming together.

  14. It is interesting and something I was very much part of that we make ‘special’ times of the years to go crazy with the food, drink, staying up…Christmas is a great example of this, where we have time off, but we blow it by getting exhausting and indulging, and so when January comes we feel so tired, ill and bloated. This time of year can be for reflection, nurturing, rest and catching up with people in our lives, without the big time indulgence. I am feeling well from making the choice to not join in with such a harmful societal habit, we may think it is normal, but seriously, we do not need to make harmful and unsupportive activities normal.

  15. You could almost apply this to everyday – we put an incredible amount of effort into making our lives unloving, we leave late for work so we have to rush, we get stressed, overwhelmed, emotional daily about what occurs in our lives, we fight, cause problems in our relationships. Now imagine that much effort put into making sure our lives were loving, committed and nurturing.

  16. We stress ourselves out by trying to achieve what we have set up in our mind to be the perfect picture of Christmas and then suffer at the hands of our own illusion.

  17. When it is spelt out like this it certainly raises the question of what the point is to celebrating Christmas in this way, and would you really call this a celebration? As the true meaning of celebrating is to come together in honor of the glory of that which is lived and that which is true, as a marker of a foundation of love from which we can continue to grow and evolve. As with this we come together to claim, confirm and celebrate the greatness of love that we all are here to live every day. And as you shared – ‘this would be like Christmas every day and a true festival of Love.’ – in which no effort is required in preparation as this already is a way of living.

  18. You make it so clear how stress is a choice of indulgence. It is interesting how we meticulously set things up to fulfill a preconceived pattern of reaction.

  19. We can take on so many expectations of what Christmas should be like and what we should do and yet all the time the inner heart and our bodies know true joy and celebration in living who we truly are.

  20. Interesting that even the term “Silly Season” is a downplay on what currently goes on at Christmas. Silly comes across as something that is a bit of harmless fun, but we need to ask ourselves is this is true? What we do to ourselves before and after Christmas, not ignoring Christmas day itself needs to be seriously examined and questioned as to its effects on our wellbeing.

  21. Imagine if we took what we did to our health at Christmas (ie overeating, disregard, indulgence, bloating, tiredness etc etc) and we reversed it and did the opposite – so we took amazing care of our bodies, we nurtured and rested and prepared for the new work year so we could return after the holidays refreshed and revitalised and ready to take things to the next level.

  22. ” 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? ”
    This is true but perhaps there is more to it perhaps keeping ourselves silly is a form of distraction from what and who we are.

  23. When taken out of context it becomes easy and clear to see why putting so much emphasis on one day is literally just plain ‘silly’. Interesting that this day that we call Christmas has become so out of proportion to every other day of the year, and the emphasis is so often the opposite to what it is supposed to be about, and that is love and sharing with each other.

  24. The way people abuse their bodies over the ‘festive season’ is crazy, and many see this as totally ‘normal’ and don’t blink an eyelid at the disregard they inflict on their bodies. I am noticing more and more that this type of silly behaviour is extending beyond Christmas in many parts of the world at music festivals, sports events, Easter, etc as people are using these times to further abuse and harm their bodies. One has to ask what is truly going on that so may people want to escape and indulge in such harmful behaviours?

  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

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. ‘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??!!!!

  31. 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?

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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… 🙂

  35. 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.

  36. 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?

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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?

  42. 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?

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

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