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8 Golden Rules of 'CHRISTMAS' for a healthier and more fulfilling holiday season.

By following these 8 Golden Rules of 'CHRISTMAS', we can make the holiday season a more enjoyable, healthier, and fulfilling experience for ourselves and others. Let’s embrace the festive season with a spirit of positivity and mindfulness.



C - Connect Meaningfully

Connect with others in a meaningful way, prioritising quality over quantity. Strengthen bonds through volunteering, joining interest groups, or rejuvenating old friendships. Engaging in shared activities, particularly in natural settings, has been shown to deepen connections and improve mental wellbeing (Capaldi, Dopko, & Zelenski, 2014).


H - Honour Your Boundaries

Honour your personal limits by setting boundaries around time, energy, and money. Recognise that certain groups or gatherings might deplete your energy and plan accordingly. Just as you budget your finances, budget your time and energy. Research has shown the importance of setting boundaries for personal well-being and stress reduction (Sonnentag, 2012).


R - Rejuvenate with Good Sleep


Prioritise good sleep to rejuvenate, especially if dealing with depression or loneliness. Sleep has a profound impact on mental health and wellbeing (Walker, 2017). If you don't achieve something you set out to do, practice self-compassion, a concept supported by Neff's (2003) research on self-compassion and wellbeing.


I - Invest in Good Nutrition… When You Can

Invest in good nutrition, choosing meals that nourish your body and mind. This provides energy to enjoy the festive season and maintain health. If you have an off day, adopt a balanced approach, as suggested by the 'sniper code’- don’t miss twice. Research supports the importance of good nutrition for mental health (Jacka et al., 2010).



S - Stay Active and Engaged

Stay active and engaged, planning activities that include exercise, preferably outdoors. Physical activity, especially in natural environments, has been linked to improved physical and mental health (Barton & Pretty, 2010). Australia's favourable weather during Christmas offers a perfect opportunity for outdoor activities.


T - Take Time to Plan

Plan for the holiday season. If attending a party, consider eating beforehand to avoid overeating. Balance your calorie intake over a week rather than a day, as suggested by flexible dieting approaches (Smith et al., 2011). Also, prepare for periods when regular mental health support might be less available.


M - Manage Expectations

Manage your expectations for the holiday season. Keep them realistic to avoid disappointment. Practicing gratitude, as suggested by Emmons and McCullough (2003), can enhance well-being and help in appreciating simple moments.


A - Assist Others


Assist others in need. Helping those less fortunate or being there for a friend can provide a profound sense of fulfilment and connection. Studies have shown that altruism can increase personal happiness and well-being (Post, 2005).




S - Seek Support When Needed

Seek support when needed. Don’t hesitate to reach out to services like Lifeline or engage in online forums for support. The importance of seeking help and discussing struggles is well-documented in mental health research (Cohen & Wills, 1985).


References:

  • Capaldi, C. A., Dopko, R. L., & Zelenski, J. M. (2014). The relationship between nature connectedness and happiness: A meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 976.

  • Sonnentag, S. (2012). Psychological detachment from work during leisure time: The benefits of mentally disengaging from work. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21(2), 114-118.

  • Walker, M. P. (2017). Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. Scribner.

  • Neff, K. D. (2003). The development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion. Self and Identity, 2(3), 223-250.

  • Jacka, F. N., et al. (2010). Association of Western and traditional diets with depression and anxiety in women. American Journal of Psychiatry, 167(3), 305-311.

  • Barton, J., & Pretty, J. (2010). What is the Best Dose of Nature and Green Exercise for Improving Mental Health? A Multi-Study Analysis. Environmental Science & Technology, 44(10), 3947-3955.

  • Smith, C. F., et al. (2011). Flexible vs. Rigid dieting strategies: Relationship with adverse behavioral outcomes. Appetite, 56(3), 659-665.

  • Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389.

  • Post, S. G. (2005). Altruism, happiness, and health: It’s good to be good. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 12(2), 66-77.

  • Cohen, S., & Wills, T. A. (1985). Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 98(2), 310-357.

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