The countdown to Christmas has begun. Adverts and promotions are working to create a sense of urgency so even the most chilled among us will be aware of the tasks and expectations that on the horizon. Quite frankly, too many of us are too stressed out to enjoy the fun.
Piroska Cavell has a strategy for festive self care that goes beyond the clinic – but before we get to that, we need to take a look at how the most common self-medicating strategies are stopping us from having a magical Christmas-time.
What is self-medicating anyway?
In the countdown to Christmas do you catch yourself entertaining the idea that drinking more alcohol is inevitable and good? The sort of feeling that makes you say things like, “Well… go on then, it is nearly Christmas.” This is how we jump on to the slippery slope of drinking more alcohol and reducing the days in the week when we are alcohol-free.
Maybe smoking is your favourite stress reliever. Perhaps you treat it as a reward, a moment to take a breath and enjoy a child-free moment. Just a couple of minutes to inhale and quell a feeling of rising anxiety.
Comfort eating can be especially tempting at the time of year. Isn’t it totally normal to snack on an endless supply of salty cheesy biscuits in the shape of Christmas trees? We are but human.
At other (warmer) times of year we might choose to go for a walk, a run, a swim… addressing our feelings of anxiety and overwhelm with a satisfying, sweaty hit of dopamine and endorphins instead of reaching for a cigarette, a vape, a bottle or a packet of crisps.
Often we treat these self-medicating strategies as the cause of our worries. But giving ourselves a hard time for the things we do when we are stressed can send us on a self-perpetuating spiral of emotional distress and poor decision making.
When we identify drinking, smoking, comfort eating as a signpost that we are overwhelmed, anxious and feeling out of control, then we can start to deal with the issues that are weighing us down.
That said, alcohol, nicotine, tobacco, salty/sugary treats can take a toll on our physical wellbeing and that will show up in our energy levels, in our skin and even in our relationships.
It’s at this point that many of us might march impulsively into a hairdressers or a beauty salon for an alternative resolution for our emotional distress:
The Regret Cut
There are few of us that haven’t been there. When we want all the things to change… we look at our hair and start thinking a new style will make all the things better.
Once we are on the wrong side of the Regret Cut, we realise that we should have had a good night’s sleep between booking the appointment and putting ourselves in the hairdresser’s chair.
But you know, this is not the worst thing we could do. The great thing about the Regret Cut is that it will grow out, it can be re-coloured. It’s not actually final. Taking big bold decisions can be exciting and life-affirming – and who’s to say we shouldn’t ever reach for that?
The Cut-rate Tweakment
No. Just no. Unlike the Regret Cut, a spontaneous, cut-price skin peel or injectable filler or muscle relaxant can be downright damaging to your skin and/or your health.
Aesthetic beauty treatments and injectables can absolutely make us feel better (I wrote an article about that), but you only have one face.
Please do not put your health and well being in the hands of a non-medically-qualified beautician who doesn’t know how they might deal with potential side effects or health risks.
If you are interested in advanced anti-ageing aesthetics, it’s a much better idea to take your beautiful face to a CQC-registered clinic for a consultation so that the money you spend will actually achieve the result that you want to see.
What’s stressing you out?
From what you’ve read so far, you’ll be able to place yourself somewhere along the spectrum of self-medicating and spontaneous bad decision making. Maybe you like the occasional fag, but you’ve not dyed your hair green yet. Alternatively you might be training for a boozy Christmas and eating marzipan fruits for your five-a-day – we are all on our own special journey!
Now it’s time to work out what’s behind your feelings of Christmas stress? What’s on your mind as you think about Christmas, your goals, your health your self-medicating strategies?
Write it out. Let the random ideas, gift ideas, tasks, family commitments, relationship thoughts, funny moments, good times spill out of your brain.
Write it all down. Take a breath, drink some water and write some more.
The exercise here is to get the jumble of thoughts out of your head and in a place where you can put them in perspective and work out why some things matter and some… don’t.
Maybe you’ll organise your list of actions. Perhaps you can prioritise which tasks need actioning now, later, tomorrow or just, sometime when you get the chance but it’s okay if it doesn’t actually happen…
Working out what’s at the root of your feelings of stress, anxiety, rage, overwhelm, sadness… can sometimes take practice. Some people can tap into their thoughts quickly and accurately, but most of us have a lifetime of self-coping strategies that mask what’s really bothering us.
This layering of stresses and coping strategies is why writing things out often develops into journalling where people take a little time every day or whenever they feel like to write out how they feel about their day. No-one deals with everything all in one go.
Set a goal. Make a plan.
With all your ideas and thoughts for Christmas in front of you, you can start to identify your goal and plan the steps towards your goal for the time between now and Christmas.
Say you want to feel calm and ready on Christmas morning. So create a plan that involves taking a minute or two each day to feel calm. Practice makes perfect.
Now add in the tasks that will help you strengthen that feeling of calm – say prioritising the gift buying plan and diarising your food shopping. Maybe write up a list of the treats that you’ll buy early so you can spread the costs out across November and December.
Maybe you are concerned that you don’t have the energy to meet and enjoy all your commitments. So you’ll need to think about your sleep and energy goals.
Make a plan to avoid tricky combinations of late nights and early mornings. Shift your bedtime routine to create a calmer transition towards sleep, maybe eat earlier, drink less alcohol or coffee, meditate for a few minutes before going to bed.
Are you fuelled for a healthy Christmas? Feast days are part and parcel of the festive season, but that doesn’t mean accepting over-eating as the new normal. Healthy weight management and good nutrition is something you can choose to maintain throughout the winter months.
A healthy diet packed with minerals and vitamins can make a significant difference to your state of mind and your physical resilience, but if you feel your energy levels and enthusiasm for exercise are always on the down low, maybe you could think about the benefits of injectable vitamin supplements.
Hormones and vitamins have a close working relationship and can help to lift feelings of brain fog and fatigue. Boosting your nutritional levels under medical supervision doesn’t just help you get more done in the day. Lowering your stress levels also reduces the amount of cortisol flooding through your body; stimulating your body to store up fats for an unidentified future crisis.
Do you want to feel great about how you look this Christmas?
Whatever your goals are for the way you look and feel about your body, your skin or your shape, Clinic Sese is always a safe space for you to off load your thoughts and lighten your emotional load.
When you meet with our Medical Director, Piroska Cavell, you’ll discover that you don’t need to be an expert in aesthetics. You’ll be able to talk about what you want to see in the mirror, how you feel about treatments and what your goals are for special days or duration of results.
Piroska will advise you on options, timings, and strategies for a planned course of treatment. You will have time to think things over because Clinic Sese does not provide walk-in spontaneous treatments.
And what if Christmas doesn’t go to plan?
Piroska’s own experience is helpful here. In fact, listening to her talk about it makes you think that maybe no one really wants a picture perfect Christmas anyway.
“I don’t get swept into the commerciality but I do think about it a lot. Mostly about getting family together and thinking about all the silly things I can get them to do. One year it was a family panto. This year might be a sing-off of musical duets. And I search out for seriously crap presents because I think they are funny. The more awful, the better.
“My family’s loss (of dignity) is my gain. All the laughs make it easier to survive the rubbish moments. Like the time I dropped the turkey out of the oven as family walked in the door. That was the Christmas spent in a cold shower washing hot fat off my legs!
Or when the cat recreated the Texas Chainsaw Massacre with the turkey and I had to do battle in Asda to secure the last turkey in town. Did I win? Who cares? I’m choosing to remember what Snow White got up to with Dopey in the best panto ever!”