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  • Writer's pictureKate Warren

Staying stress-free in the silly season

Can you believe it is November already?! Only a month and a bit until Christmas. That's crazy! Oh, sorry, how rude of me not to introduce myself - I'm Kate, the Stay U counsellor and career coach... and blog guru! ;)


I have a couple of topics to cover for this month, so I better hop to it...


As I mentioned above, the "silly season" is not too far away. This can be a really stressful time. There are a lot of expectations and organisation when it comes to this period. Some of us have big families and need to feed 12 people on Christmas Day. Some of us don't have any family, or their family are overseas, so Christmas emphasises how lonely they are.


One of the main causes of stress when it comes to Christmas is buying gifts. Not everyone enjoys shopping, and no doubt you have family and friends asking, "What do you want?" and you have no idea. Nowadays, when we want something, we generally just go out and buy it. Websites can offer competitive prices and quick delivery, meaning that we can get things without even leaving home. With our busy lifestyles, that is super convenient, but the huge range of products can be overwhelming, especially when we are buying for someone else. Then there is the age-old question, "What do you buy for someone who has everything"?


I have three words for you - Hampers, Pampers, and Champers.


HAMPERS

Whether they are pre-made or DIY, gift hampers are a great present because they are versatile, personalised, professional (if you need a gift for a boss or client), and affordable. They can be customised to suit any occasion or person, and they can contain a variety of gifts. Just pick a theme - food, drinks, self-care, travelling - and you're away!


Hampers are more than just a gift. They are a representation of yourself and your efforts for the receiver. They carry a message of love and gratitude when they are presented to someone.


PAMPERS

Self-care and treating yourself are especially important at this time of year. Buying an item that can be used for valuable "me time" for someone else is especially thoughtful, but it can also be very personal. Steering clear of items that highlight a particular issue or personal challenge - for example, something weight-related, or for acne-prone skin, or containing religious content - is not advised. Take the time to listen to your friends and family and understand what they would really benefit from right now. Maybe the "pamper" item is not a physical gift - maybe it's your time. You could make a little book of gift vouchers - for example, take the kids to the movies, take the dog for a walk, or take over their shift at work so they can have a long weekend/date night.

While you are buying something for someone else, make sure you remember your needs too.


CHAMPERS

Splashing out on a nice bottle of bubbly is a quick and easy last-minute gift. It's not just about the classic brut - you can get so many different varieties. Maybe try a Sparkling Shiraz or a sweeter Prosecco.


Not everyone drinks alcohol, but thankfully alcohol-free choices are improving, especially in the realm of mocktails.


For some, alcohol forms an intrinsic part of the celebrations surrounding the silly season. For others, this can be a difficult struggle. Many Australians are now opting to avoid alcohol for all sorts of reasons, such as mental and physical health and religious beliefs, and there are signs young people are drinking less than their parents.


Whatever the reason, if you're trying to limit your alcohol intake, or avoid it altogether this year, those in the know have offered some tips for sticking to your plan:


  1. Recognise Christmas can be a hard time. Many people can enjoy alcohol in moderation, but there's evidence a lot of Australians drink beyond national guidelines that recommend not exceeding four standard drinks a day, or 10 per week. During celebrations, like Christmas and New Year's, this is even harder. One reason for this is that people often use alcohol to "cope" with their feelings. Perhaps you don't get along with your family, or you are alone for this period and missing your family. Tell yourself it is okay to feel sad, and that you are not alone in these feelings.

  2. Avoid treating alcohol as medicine. If you or someone you know is feeling upset, avoid adding alcohol to the mix. Taking time to reflect on how you feel about particular events and planning ahead is a good idea. Recognise the triggers and set up strategies to cope. One way is to set yourself a time limit if you know the event you need to attend is going to be particularly stressful, and one where alcohol is readily available. Consider bringing fewer drinks to events than you usually would, or low or non-alcoholic options and drinking lots of water can all help you avoid drinking too much.

  3. Have good alternatives at hand. Finding good non-alcoholic alternatives can help you step away from drinking alcohol completely. Over the past few years, many companies have begun developing non-alcoholic versions of beer, spirits and even wine. My favourite brand is Naked Life. Their drinks are available at supermarkets and include such delicious mocktails as Classic G & T, Mojito, Margarita, and Cosmo.

  4. Look out for the people around you. Having supportive people and environments around you is shown to strengthen people's desire to drink less or stop drinking. If you can tell a friend or family member is losing control or struggling, casually offer them a non-alcoholic alternative, or ask if they need a walk. We don't want to embarrass people, just as much as non-drinkers don't want to feel stigmatised, but we want to create environments where people have alcohol-free choices that are not just soft drinks, and where we're not pushing people to drink if they don't want to.

When it comes to this upcoming holiday season, just be sure to take care and stay true to yourself. Plan ahead, recognise triggers, and remember that it's not about spending every last cent you have - just be grateful for your family, friends and people around you. Be kind to your fellow humans and look out for those who need a helping hand. If you ever need help yourself, don't be afraid to ask for it. There are plenty of us out there willing and able to help.


Thanks again for stopping by to read my blog. I hope you enjoyed it. As always, take care and remember "a problem shared is a problem halved". Love to all.


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