Thursday, 1 November 2018

Four well-being ways to save you this Christmas season

This festive season, what don’t you want?
‘Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la la” blah blah blah - a traditional time when we strive to be jolly, to coordinate fun with friends and family, light a candle and remember those lost and celebrate new additions. But what does the cost of Christmas need to be? In this weeks post I will suggest some Wellbeing ways to help cut back on some unnecessary evils this wintry season.
Wellbeing way 1
Before the madness commences, if it hasn’t already (some of you Christmas keenos have been hoarding presents all year, haven’t you? Be honest!), forget ‘to do’ and make a ”To don’t” list
Take a moment. Reflect on those things you end up doing every year and maybe slightly resenting. If you are still holding onto any bad feelings or bad memories, let them go and forgive yourself. At this time of year, more than others, we all too often have to put ourselves out for other people; we are haunted by that mountain of unavoidable tasks (the cogs of Christmas) and that tremendous ‘to do’ list... as well as wanting to change the pace and purpose of Christmas this year, maybe you acknowledge that there are other things (bad habits?) that you would like to change for yourself: we know we sometimes make poor choices when we’re stressed, anxious, over-worked and tired... how can we ensure that it’ll be a healthy and happy Christmas this year? 
So don’t wait for the New Year to make resolutions (you’ll have burnt out by then), pick up a pen and paper or your note book, iPad, phone, whatever takes your fancy, maybe even a quill, and make a list of things you don’t want: make a ‘To Don’t’ list . Here are a few of mine: don’t judge, please...
  1. Don’t fall asleep on the sofa - a decent nights sleep can really make the world of difference. 
  2. Don’t buy more than meaningful presents - spend a little more on a little less and opt for ethical, sustainable and local choices (see Wellbeing way 3 below). 
  3. Don’t have the second bottle... am I alone here? After a bottle has been comfortably consumed, everyone is feeling merry, there’s a delicious moment of temptation when another bottle seems like the absolutely best idea and right thing to do. Unfortunately, one leads to two, to three, to... getting off with an inflatable Father Christmas. And a nasty hangover to boot writing off  the next day, adding to the stress and strain of an already busy time.
Wellbeing way 2
Rather than Christmas cards this year, take time to make a personal ‘Christmas Call’. 
Don’t opt for the e-card substitutes. Although they may well be one way to save the trees - Christmas card and wrapping paper production contributes to an estimated 30 million trees being cut down (see wellbeing way 4 for some waste saving tips) - they are even less personal than the sentiment a hand written card can achieve. Your friendship is important; it’s scientifically proven that hearing a human voice can improve a sense of identify, wellbeing and other mental health benefits (https://www.open.edu/openlearn/health-sports-psychology/health/health-studies/mental-health/why-friendships-are-vital-your-wellbeing).
Because your ‘to don’t’ list has been so effective, you will find yourself with more time to do the things that will warm your heart, giving you a glow from the inside out; the sharing of love will light you up like a festive fire place. What do you need to do? Simple. Find somewhere to sit down (somewhere comfy... in bed even!), have a nice drink on the side, get your phone book or contacts open and make some Christmas calls. Everyone will be busy this time of year so keep it short, meaningful like a Christmas card note and you’ll both feel better for it. It could be a chance to arrange an overdue meet up, another call - when you’ve got more time in the New Year perhaps, or a time to exchange addresses/email addresses for some ‘life updates’!
Wellbeing way 3
If you’re determined to shower your loved ones with presents this year, for what ever reasons, then please - I implore - adorn them with ethical, sustainable and/or local choices. There are lots of places you can do this that can fit around your lifestyle, so there are no excuses. 😉
The World Wide Web does exactly that - connects us across the whole wide world over the web. Online shops are abundant with a plethora of ethical, sustainable projects in other countries and within your country of residence. You’ll find companies and organizations that have made a bridge between the haves and the have nots. If you read their ‘about us’ section you’ll be able to find out about the better pay conditions, living conditions and education programs these groups are setting up for locals living and working there.
Alternatively, find out when your local flea market is, put in your diary when the late night Christmas shopping event is in your local shops (not those big high street giants) and/or check local facebook pages or if your short on time, check out the local shop’s online proffering. They have families to support too remember and by shopping local you are cutting out the middle man whilst contributing to the UK economic success of these small, independent stores. 
If you’re like me and always struggle with superfluous Christmas present purchasing my advice is to: 1. Talk to the person/people you’re buying for. 2. Make a list of things you think they’ll like. Make a budget per present if you need to, 3. Take spare bags (don’t accept plastic bags from stalls and shops). 4. Wander through the market or street and buy on impulse - trust your nose to sniff out something 
Wellbeing way 4
Your ‘to don’t’ list has proven a hit; your colleagues, sister in law and uncle have made their own too because you have been raving about it! If that’s not ‘sharing is caring’ in it’s purest form I don’t know what is. You have made some successful Christmas calls, you’ve gathered gifts and now need to prepare them for the receivers. There are many ways of making those seasonal surprises suitably wrapped without buying some ghastly, generic paper or pointless plastic wrapping paper. 
More importantly, there are health benefits to you - taking part in creative activities can improve your wellbeing so why not find out some crafty ways to wrap your gifts this year? 
For instance, the Ardington School of Crafts found that “more people, (especially more men!), should take up a creative activity in order that they can benefit from better health and wellbeing, feel less anxiety but a stronger sense of purpose and achievement... study results show conclusively that people feel much happier, have a stronger sense of purpose and are more relaxed because they are involved in arts and crafts activities.” The charity mind promotes ‘Crafternoons’ as a way to bring people together to be crafty and to “provide a safe environment for people to talk in”. Fancy getting your friends together to share wrapping ideas? You could set up a Christmas Crafternoon. Go to www.mind.org.uk for more inspiration.

Useful web links
These websites might provide a starting place for wrapping ideas (please don’t be put off by their ‘hippy-ish’ website names!) or search yourself for ‘green’ or environmentally friendly wrapping. It’s a wrap!
https://ecocult.com/15-eco-friendly-gift-wrap-ideas-that-look-chic-not-cheap/
These websites are my suggested starting places for exploring online ethical, sustainable and organic shopping options, but please explore your own avenues:
Top Exeter local tip - my personal favorite: https://sanchosshop.com/
You matter the most! For more on wellbeing and how to look after you and yours this Festive season use the links below:

https://www.gov.im/media/1349896/10-ways-to-look-after-your-mental-health-at-christmas.pdf

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