Written by Agnes Tan and Poh Mei Hui
It’s finally the end of the year and the perfect time to embrace the festive cheer. Alas, the weeks leading to the new year can also be one of the busiest and stressful times of the year as we grapple with many festive demands – from preparing presents to attending small Christmas/new year parties.
Joining the chase for a perfect, airbrushed holiday can cause a toll on our wellbeing, resulting in “holiday blues”. We feel down, overworked or even isolated in contrast to the jollity of the festive season. Not to mention the double whammy stress in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with its uncertainties exacerbating the holiday blues. Thus, it’s crucial to take care of ourselves as we celebrate this festive season. If you’re feeling the blues, don't worry – you’re not alone! Here are some wellness tips that could be useful for your mind, body and soul this holiday season.
Note: Our wellness tips are based on our 10 domains of wellness. You can find out more about the 10 domains of wellness here.
Self-care is key to ensuring physical wellness and a fruitful holiday! Take note to eat and drink in moderation, and to not get too carried away with alcohol, as it can worsen depressed mood and anxiety.
Exercising regularly is another sure-fire way to combat the holiday blues. Physical activity helps stimulate the release of “feel good” hormones and brain chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin, that regulate your mood and create positive feelings. If you find yourself lacking time for exercise, incorporating stretches in between your activities can help too.
We also recommend having sufficient sleep even with all the partying! Having regular and sufficient sleep can promote better sleep quality, which in turn reduces depressive symptoms, lowers the risk of heart disease and weight gain, boosts our immune system and enhances our daily performance. This would ensure you’re ready to get back on track after you’re done with your celebrations.
Instead of expecting things to be perfect, it is important to lower our expectations and create more realistic ones for this festive season. We can reframe our perspectives and choose to let go of situations we can’t control, while working within the confines of what we have and can do.
Choosing to practise gratitude instead of ruminating over our perceived shortcomings can minimize depressive symptoms. Although we are unable to freely travel or have large social gatherings compared to previous years, we can try to be more thankful about the little things in our life – such as the company of our loved ones – that we often overlook.
Note: This does not substitute medical or professional advice. When unsure, always seek professional opinion.
It can be difficult to maintain connections with our loved ones during the pandemic. Although social gatherings are restricted due to COVID-19, having an online meeting with friends and family can still reap social benefits and stave off feelings of loneliness. If you have a huge group of friends or have loved ones who live too far away, consider planning an online party. Deliver food to each other’s houses and play some online games!
If you’re unable to celebrate with your loved ones this year but are keen to connect with others, consider volunteering, attending community or faith-based events – these provide valuable opportunities to stay connected with others while experiencing a sense of purpose.
Before the pandemic, the workplace was usually separated from people’s home and this segregation makes people very well aware of the attitude they should have in two different environments. However, due to the pandemic, people are forced to work from home and this causes them to get mixed up between work and home life. For many people, they also become distant from their colleagues who they used to see on a daily basis. In addition, companies tend to be busier at the end of the work day as everyone struggles to finish their work before the new year.
To alleviate stress levels and strengthen collegial relationships, consider organizing a small party, whether physical or virtual. It may be helpful to show appreciation, whether in the form of cards or gifts to your colleagues to thank them for getting through the year with you.
To improve on your work-life balance, you can also choose to take off-days if possible when things get too stressful.
Festive seasons are always a best time to shop and haul because there will always be never-ending promotions and discounts that are irresistible! But bear in mind, overspending during festivals often results in regret because of impulsive spending of money on things that might not be as much of a necessity as we think they are. Interestingly, a survey found out that 77% of people tend to overspend during these holidays, and this will cause financial stress after the festive season is over. When stress hits us, it will make it hard to concentrate on our daily functioning, especially our work motivation.
Consider making a list to minimise unnecessary spending. Paying with cash also helps as people tend to overspend with credit cards.
If you’re thinking of organizing a get-together, consider a potluck instead of a buffet or ordering restaurant food. This can decrease overspending and may even help to mitigate excessive leftovers.
Believe it or not, our environment can affect our wellbeing! What we see, hear, breathe, and smell can influence mood and stress levels, which directly impact mental health. Engage your senses by going for a walk in a nearby park, or take the opportunity to organise and decorate your living spaces – the aesthetics and sensory aspects of our physical environment can invoke calm and boost our mood after a stressful day.
Further, with the looming threat of climate change, it is ever more vital to be sustainable – and for many of us, this effort can start at home! Small changes can ignite a large difference in reducing our environmental footprint, especially during parties, where potential for waste production, over-consumption and mass shopping is high. There are numerous ways to host eco-friendly parties - creating handmade gifts, reusing old decorations, and potlucks to possibly reduce food! Make an end-of-year tradition to go green!
The end of the year is usually the most stressful time of the year. Companies have many year end calculations to do, shopping malls are flooded with people due to the holiday season, families are busy organizing back to back festivals such as thanksgiving, christmas and new years. Regardless, it is still important to maintain spiritual wellness during the holidays.
Setting aside time for therapeutic activities such as meditating or reflecting can help us to stay connected to our emotions and increase our self-awareness. Spending time on activities you find meaningful such as staying connected with loved ones or giving back to society can give us purpose, thus increasing our spiritual well-being. When connecting with others, you also help to contribute to the wellness of others!
There is no better time to inspire creativity during the holidays! The act of making can have a positive effect on our mental health, with research showing it can elevate positive emotions while alleviating depressive symptoms, stress and anxiety. Also, creative wellness can boost self-awareness and expression, improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Spend some time channeling your inner artist by engaging in artistic endeavours like painting or listening to music!
For those who are taking a break from studying or taking leave from work, consider trying out new creative activities such as art jamming or clay sculpting. There are several affordable workshops available which you can sign up for to try these!
For those who love to show your affection through gifts, it is a great time to create homemade crafts and gift them to your loved ones as well!
With the advances in technology that we have these days, especially during the pandemic, many of us are suffering from “digital overload” where we are exposed to loads of information and negative news all over the world. Having a digital detox by minimizing your screen usage can help to calm our minds and keep us focused on what is before us.
Consider putting your gadgets away when spending time with others or when you are winding down at the end of the day. If you find it hard to stop using your phone, consider curating your social media platforms such that you are not constantly bombarded with negative news.
Ensuring our intellectual wellness allows us to sustain a stimulating life while expanding our knowledge. It helps us to hone our curiosity and ensure lifelong learning. What better time to work on our intellectual wellness than the holiday season?
Consider taking some time during the weekends to watch a thought-provoking film or read a book on a topic you are not familiar with. If you’re meeting with friends or family, ask them what is something new they have learnt recently at work and discuss it. Not only do you have the opportunity to learn something new, you also get to understand how your loved ones process their experiences and increase your understanding of them and their worldview.
Everyone prioritizes the different domains of wellness differently. However, at the end of the day, it is still up to each of us to decide how we want to take charge of our wellness. With the festive seasons round the corner, it is important to take care of our holistic wellness to tide us through the intense holiday season and prepare us for the new year!=.
Wishing all our readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Enjoy your holidays and remember to take care of your wellness!