Surviving the Holiday Season: Keep Well Tips

The festive season is here again. It’s that fun (and stressful) time of year where our calendars are full and there are many opportunities to overindulge in both eating and drinking. Work and family pressures, not to mention social anxieties, are at an all-time high – especially during a pandemic. If you’re more of a wallflower than a social butterfly, the season can also put you in a perpetual state of stress. And then there’s the pressure that comes with family dinners (tip: before planning your in-person gatherings, be sure to check the COVID-19 regulations and guidelines in your region for any restrictions). 

Don’t despair! With a few keep well strategies, you can survive the next few weeks with your health and emotional well-being intact. And hopefully still enjoy the season! 

Here are tips for navigating the festive season:

  1. Eat before you go

    Even if you’re heading to a sit-down dinner, have a healthy snack like nuts before you leave for the get-together. This way you won’t be drinking on an empty stomach, which can increase the effects of alcohol. You’ll also be less hungry and less tempted by unhealthier food choices. Many holiday appetizers and foods are high in sugar and fat, neither of which bode well for a healthy eating plan.

    Watch the size of your portions this holiday season. For an extra treat, enjoy a small portion such as one piece of your favourite Christmas shortbread.   

  1. Drink lots of water

    Drink two glasses of water for every alcoholic drink to stay hydrated and limit your alcohol intake. It’s also a good idea to dilute your drinks. Make your white wine a spritzer or ask for your spirits to be served in a tall glass with soda. 

    Check out Canada’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines (PDF) for guidance on how to keep your drinking moderate. 

  1. Recently sober? Don’t face the season alone

    Holiday gatherings can be minefields when you’re newly sober. Ask for support from your counselor, trusted friends and family to navigate the challenges without reaching for a drink. Alcohol is often plentiful during the festive season, but there are plenty of ways to ‘eat, not drink and be merry’ as covered in this CBC radio episode: Eat, don’t drink, and be merry: An alcoholic’s guide to ringing in the New Year.

    You can find more resources for dealing with addiction at the 
    Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and ConnexOntario. 

  1. Put your smartphone away and embrace small talk

    If you’re an introvert, it can be tempting to avoid the awkwardness of social interaction by standing on the periphery and looking intently at your phone. You’re not alone. According to Wendy Leung, more than 40 per cent of Canadians are shy. Put away your phone and commit to staying at a gathering for a certain amount of time. Focus on one-on-one conversations and asking people questions.

    Make sure to visit 
    Anxiety Canada for more tips about dealing with social anxiety throughout the holiday season, including calm breathing techniques to aid with relaxation.

  1. Manage holiday stress

    Whether it’s dealing with difficult relatives or being tasked with cooking for your extended family, the festive season offers its fair share of stress as well as fun. This holiday season, make sure to speak to your friends and family about what the expectations are and ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed. This will help you to keep within your own limits so that you are not spending more than you can afford or entertaining for more people than you have the time to prepare for.

    The Canadian Psychological Association has some tips on how to manage holiday stress, including managing your expectations of others and events and asking for help when you need it.

Talk to Wello about how to overcome the hurdles of the holiday season

Our highly-trained and caring clinicians can help you with health and lifestyle challenges which are amplified over the holiday season. You can book an appointment by logging into your patient portal.

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