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?


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

  1. “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.” So true Steffen – and often at Christmas there is so much heightened tension that people aren’t very nice to each other on that day anyway…..

  2. ‘Well I wish it could be Christmas every day’ is a common refrain in the UK – often because the song is played very frequently. If we did actually live this way all the time we would very soon see why we could not maintain it – but perhaps as you suggest Steffen, there is an underlying truth that what we really seek in it is the feeling of greater love in our lives and this we can have every day, if we so choose.

  3. Another pre-Christmas happening I observe is conversations at work about the ‘festive’ season begin earlier and earlier. ‘What are you doing for Christmas?, Where shall we go for our Christmas lunch or the work Christmas party?’ We seem to spend an inordinate amount of time looking forward to it, taking our focus away from the present. No gift or event is truly worth separating ourselves from who we are in this way. Yes, things have to be planned, but there is a sense of longing for Christmas that takes us out of ourselves. Yet my experience is that the more we come home to ourselves, the better and the more we get that true essence of being love that we are perhaps longing for.

  4. Your blog highlights loud and clear the value of consistency, and being loving with ourselves all year round. We often place emphasis on occasions, be they Christmas, Birthdays etc. but that’s missing the point, if we are lovingly living with ourselves then to celebrate those occasions we do not drop that loving care for ourselves, that’s our baseline – why would we do that? And yet as you and many of us have witnessed in others and ourselves we get caught in the image / ideal of how we think things should be and we drop our own commitment to ourselves, and this is indeed silly. As I write this, the question that arises is this – could it be that on those days I and all of us are being asked to celebrate us and build further on that loving commitment to ourselves and in doing so we break some of the ideas and pressures around Christmas that are held by society at large; the biggest one being that self care can be dropped? Why would we want to live in a way that is not loving on any day of the year? A question to consider and explore.

  5. Put a whole lot of people in a room who have a whole lot of history together (multi dynamics), pump them with alcohol and rich food, bring the pressure to be jolly and have a wonderful time cause it is once a year. Christmas -sounds like fun?

  6. There does seem to be a lot of pretending at Christmas for many, according to what people say to each other about how it is for them. It is rare that there is not any angst. No wonder we use food and drink to numb and obliterate what we are feeling.

  7. I always find it interesting how stressed people become in the lead up to Christmas. You can take any aspect of it – finding presents, organising food or even the finances of pulling it all off. For quite some time now I’ve chosen to not join in what I see as madness. As a young single mum on a budget I made the choice to not go into financial stress in order to please others. One Christmas I invited my family to my house and asked everyone to bring a plate. There was nothing but love from my family as would they really have wanted a present from me knowing my financial situation? In the lead up there was not an ounce of stress, my only perpetration was perhaps to clean the house. By the end of the day all the dishes were done and the house was back to normal. Everyone had a great day and it was a beautiful day together.

    1. This just goes to show that we need not be swept up in the Christmas craze, that we don’t have to adhere to ‘tradition’ and in doing so find that life can be simpler and richer. More in line with the ‘spirit of christmas’ that gets sold to us, making this time about family and connecting to others without all the added bits between us.

  8. I’ve been there done that Steffen for many Christmas times. I remember feeling completely pressured to have everything perfect – food, presents, house, children etc. that I was like raving stressed out woman before everyone arrived and then would snap on the ‘happy families’ and make it appear to be all fine… knowing full well the other family members arriving had the same play out before coming over. How crazy is that?! Every year I would say ‘I’m never doing that again’ or ‘Never doing it like that again’ but next Christmas would come around and the same pattern would play out. What really changed for me was when I realised I am, my family and everyone are so much more and mean so much more than any present or day can give… the simplicity of connecting and sharing a meal or time together is far more important than getting wrapped up in the picture of Christmas.

    1. What’s silly is that we all want Christmas to be about what we miss most – true connection to ourselves and others – yet we make it about every other thing, and a million distractions that take us away from that connection.

      1. I love what you say here Bryony. People so want to feel loved and that they belong and that’s maybe why we hold on to something like Christmas so tightly because we think we can achieve it at this time in particular.

  9. I am sure that at some point everyone clocks the craziness and negative effects that come as part and parcel of the silly season but it usually gets brushed aside and forgotten until another year rolls by and then, almost robotically, the same scenario is repeated. It is a sad indictment on humanity that in order to ‘play up’ we first have to ‘play down’ or ‘switch off’ our natural and universal intelligence. To truly celebrate all we have to do is simply turn our light on and shine brightly – like the stars we truly are!

  10. ha ha I love that, I never really looked in detail at the idea of the silly season but it’s true, I have spent way too many years being silly, making incredibly poor choices just because it is a particular time of year. I am so pleased I started living as if every day was as special as that time of year.

  11. One of the very telling comments from Steffen is how people with illnesses are so influenced by this embedded ritual that they actually get sicker. Not really a cause to celebrate.

  12. Every time I read this I am reminded of just how RIDICULOUS we as a species can be….how unintelligent we can be. I absolutely agree with you Steffen, and I really would love to see this kind of article in the paper, or magazines leading up to Xmas…because, it’s early october now and the supermarket is already stocked with Xmas indulgence…

  13. I actually wonder how many people consider that everything you have described above is actually an ongoing cycle/pattern…Most people I know look forward to this pattern, because society encourages it, society never stops and tells the true story of what is actually going, it just sells us a picture of the glamour of silly season. Why on earth do we choose to turn a blind eye to all that is going on.

  14. Perhaps we shouldn’t blame the silliness on the time of year but on the belief that having a good time involves making yourself unwell by the silly choices we so often make at Christmas time.

  15. This time of year for me is when I stop, not do anything and enjoy myself with friends and family. Having days off is a great time to take stock and consolidate my year confirming my achievements and new found awareness, as well as my weaknesses. I really enjoy this time of year to have a break and nuture my body.

  16. “…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.”

    Spot on Steffen. What if the true meaning of Christ-mas was to live the light of the Christ, the Soul’s light and love, everyday in every way? If this is so, then what we have created in its place is a very clever and deliberate distortion of this. We are ‘silly’ because we excuse our waywardness and do not take responsibility for it.

  17. The level of indulgence that I used to indulge in every Christmas was hugely harmful for my health and used to leave me in a depleted state that took weeks to get over. Since I ceased celebrating Christmas my health has improved enormously.

  18. Many events like Christmas have become very silly indeed, the over indulgence in chocolate at Easter and the crazy and sometimes frightening pranks at Halloween to name just a couple. Why cannot we just come together at these times and celebrate each other without all the hype and fancy trimmings?

  19. The abuse we put ourselves through during the Silly season is believed to be enjoyment under the prison of ideals and tradition. The way we are able to go through with it year after year is a clear indication of how we disregard what our bodies feel, that again, is a belief that this is just the way it is, as we refuse to be aware of what truth is and choose rather to suffer. That said, for many, standing up for what feels truthful and making choices from within is a big struggle as it would mean we have to let go of what we have believed all these years to be true, to come to the fact that we have been fooled.

  20. So much is exposed in the behaviours, reactions and games people play at Christmas. So much is exposed in the way Humanity chooses to live and the ideals and beliefs around family that we are all willing to accept, even sweep under the rug for the sake of appearing ‘perfect’. I loved your comment – ‘ …. 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’ – if this was the way we chose to live every day what a magical world it would be to live in. Thanks Steffen.

    1. I agree, it can be a fraught time. I remember at age 16 how I got everything at Christmas I could have wanted and I still felt this void, this emptiness.

  21. Ah yes, here we are again, ‘the silly season’. It’s a time of year which coaxes us to change our usual behaviour, it’s a time of year that intensifies life, that asks us to focus intently on one or two days, to change our eating, drinking, socialising, shopping and work habits. This has a stressful effect on our bodies and the way we feel. I know that the more I just allow my usual rhythm to be my way over the Christmas period I can enjoy myself, family and friends and not feel overtaken by tiredness and the Christmas craziness.

  22. Christmas may be a magnification how we normally live with everything a bit more extreme. Does that highlight the issues that we have every day but that are not quite as obvious even though they may be the same?

  23. Spot on, Steffen. And the thing is, many of us do it year after year after year after year… we blame it on the family, the work, the tradition, the society… and forget that we do have a choice.

    1. Sure we have a choice Fumiyo, and what I sense is that we all know that but for many it is quite a challenge to break out of the commonly held beliefs and traditions that comes with them. The opposing reaction that comes from the group you want to leave is unpredictable, very hard and real, all geared up to prevent us from making our own choices.

  24. It’s like this time of year really highlights what happens when we don’t care for ourselves, hence the aftermath in January and beyond. But what if our year could relate to our day or week? Where are our ‘Christmas Moments’ then? when we let go and face the consequences afterwards. Over indulging and dropping in the care of ourselves in the name of tradition or the belief that this is just what you do at this time of year makes me wonder about the reasons why we abuse ourselves day to day with the notion that this is what we do in this moment? Why? do we really need to go down that road?

  25. I fully agree that the name ‘silly season’ they have given to it suits very well as when you observe how inconsistent we behave ourselves because of the commonly held traditions and beliefs, no other word than silly season will tell us exactly what is actually taking place.

  26. It’s funny what we call things without even taking a step back to realise what we are saying, ‘the silly season’ for example and as the blog is saying is telling us what we are walking into. The way people talk about it you can see that we are aware to some point of what is going on but we don’t take it the whole way, why? It’s now almost a throw away line, ‘silly season’ and we use it regularly but don’t really see. People have spoken for many years about the stress and what they do over this period and yet we don’t stop? Some would say this isn’t too intelligent and from what I see I would agree.

  27. The thing is that we try to make it nice and perfect as we actually love being with each other, so we make it picture perfect to what we think that it would make us be closer, but all the while we keep ourselves busy and stressed which makes it even harder to connect and just be with each other, thus we consume food and drinks to compensate and take the edge off. And then we repeat. So an honest look at how we are going through and about life and where we are running in circles is very helpful to step out of the trod that we have succumbed to.

  28. Every year I read this and I’m so glad that I have made and continue to make different choices every year to support me not to fall into the ‘silly season’ trap. I still get a leg caught now and then, because let’s face it, the pull to get sucked in is amazingly strong – super power strong, but thanks to my choices leading up to it, my strength in knowing I don’t deserve to put myself through that or those around me just keeps developing.

  29. It is true, for so many people this time of the year is to get out of control with food and drinking. It is really silly to say the least, I feel it is a great time to be together enjoying the love that is there to be celebrated with each other.

  30. Could the ‘silly season’ become a saying of the past as our worldwide levels of harming behaviours are dramatic increasing and are no longer set to specific times of the year?

    1. Yes I suspect so, not just a ‘silly season’ but a ‘silly life’. But the word silly really needs to ramped up – it’s altogether too frivolous when you consider the seriousness of what has been presented here.

  31. Seen like this, the ‘silly’ season simply sounds like an opportunity to indulge – in food, drink, drama, emotions and over-work. An opportunity for socially sanctioned irresponsibility, to be repeated at will on other ‘festive’ days throughout the year, with less emphasis on these occasions perhaps on family. How much more beautiful to live each day evenly and joyously, with 100% respect for ourselves and others.

  32. It sure is a silly season, we have lost the true purpose of it. Time to spend loving valuable time with family and friends. I absolutely agree why make all that effort for one day, we should live every day in a loving way with everyone, then every day is joyous and full of love.

  33. It doesn’t make sense to get ourselves so stressed before we have a few days off, and then go on to continue the stress, no wonder so many relationships break up during this period. I have found it is far more loving to take things gently and enjoy being together sharing a meal without any of the commercial hype or outside pressure, it is definitely an opportunity to connect and reconnect with people.

  34. When we step back and take a look at what goes on, especially if we consider what the body has to cope with, there is no other word but silly.

  35. Very silly all the exhausting preparations we make to abuse ourselves over the Christmas and New Year excesses.

  36. In my experience we don’t even end up being “nice” and “loving” on Christmas Day as usually everyone’s drunk, bloated and grump by 2pm!

  37. You really capture the craziness, the extreme and the pressure of it, and how we’re trapped in that (if we choose it.) and that in fact we abandon ourselves and often what we know is true to somehow be part of something that is not ‘good’ for us.

  38. The silly season describes Christmas well. I recall all the emotions and stresses that you describe only too well but I now realise that we choose all this, it isn’t compulsory. A few years ago I called time on Christmas and decided I was not going to do it any longer and I now, rather than hating the Christmas period, enjoy the feeling of space that the break offers me. It is an opportunity for joyful connections rather than self abuse and stress.

  39. It really doesn’t make sense that we put so much time and effort into one week or less of the year, when if we focused on each day being a celebration of life we wouldn’t need to blow out and indulge because we feel we deserve it because life is such a struggle. But who is denying us feeling joy every day? It’s just ourselves, so we can also turn this around and choose to celebrate love and family everyday.

  40. Loved reading this today Steffen. It’s so true that we bring so much stress and it’s consequences over the Christmas period all for the sake of …what? A supposed love filled day/s with family and/or friends? Let’s have true love and have it every day, it is our choice after all.

  41. This highlights to me how dictated we are by societal beliefs in order for us to feel like we belong, to avoid the emptiness we feel, including our reaction to it. Yet all the while we already in fact do belong to something far greater than the illusion of what this one day, Christmas, supposedly offers. We are already united by a quality the resides within each and every one of us, and when this love is connected to we can live this every day. We belong to a Brotherhood, through our connection to love, that is our natural way of being. A day like Christmas can then be celebrated as a great marker, a day for reflecting on this quality lived throughout the year, how more of this loving quality can be lived in the year to come and confirming the love we are through a shared meal and conversation with family and friends.

  42. Christmas is one of the all time stress seasons, we become so stressed with work before the holiday break, with the preparations of Christmas and by the time it comes around we are literally too exhausted to enjoy the time we have with our family and friends, and by way of compensation we overeat and drink too much. Why are we not asking ourselves why we do everything to excess.

  43. It is an unusual name for a season, we have summer, autumn, winter and spring as seasons that I know of and yes the ‘silly season’ is in among them. We all know how it goes and yet few of us actually slow down and take note that this doesn’t support us year after year. Most of us need a break from having a break around this time. There is such an intensity, a build up and pressure around this time of year that it really hits people. The years seem to be running by faster and faster, perhaps we all need to slow down a little and bring this back. What do we really want from this part of the calendar? Maybe it’s time to change how this is for us all and do or live something that supports us and doesn’t wipe us out.

  44. If you ask people what they want for Christmas or the New Year, how many would come up with the crazy list in this blog? Yet these are exactly what most of us do face year after year. If we only stopped once in a while and reflected on what life is reflecting as this blog invites us to do, we would naturally abandon so much of what we engage in that very clearly is not contributing to our experience of a vital, healthy, joyful and loving life.

  45. When you break it down into all the different ways we abuse ourselves across the festive season you are absolutely right it makes no sense, why would we ever put so much effort into not loving ourselves… and… imagine what could be possible if we put that much effort INTO loving ourselves and making our life about commitment and maximising our potential, speaking the truth and always giving one billion percent.

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