While the festive season provides plenty of opportunities for people to catch up with family and friends it is also the time of year that can prove taxing for your mental and physical health.
The added stress of the end of year deadlines, family celebrations that remind you of past dysfunctions, increased alcohol consumption and the pressure to be cheery, can all take their toll. Whilst unrealistic expectations can also lead to disappointment and depression.
For small business owners who are already regularly putting in long hours and working intensely to meet business demands, the pressures of the holiday season can be high
Taking on too much can often be the catalyst for stress. With December being one of the busiest times of the year, both socially and workwise, it’s important to ensure you adopt a regime of self-care to minimise this stress.
According to the 2016 Global Burden of Disease Study, Australians have one of the highest life expectancies in the world, which would seem like good news, except the study also found one in five Australians is struggling with a mental health issue or a substance abuse problem.
Of those, Aussie small business owners were some of the most at risk to be impacted by poor mental health. Research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Safe Work Australia also suggests the psychological health and safety (or the lack thereof) came at a cost of 6 billion per annum.
While a further study commissioned by the IPA identified the mental health and well-being of small business operators as a key issue.
IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway commented, “As we travelled around the country on our small business roadshow, the most profound finding was that of the declining rates of mental health among small business owners.
“Many small businesses and the accountants serving them divulged the significant stress and other pressures they were trying to combat on a daily basis.”
If all those stats aren’t enough to make you consider taking better care of yourself this holiday season there’s further fuel for the fire.
Research led by Josh Knight at the University of Melbourne analysed 25 years of mortality data and found that deaths around the holiday season increased by around 4% compared to the average for the rest of year.
So rather than become a statistic of the holiday season wouldn’t it be better to avoid sickmas this Christmas? Take stock of your health and mental health and take steps to avoid a wellbeing crisis this Christmas.
Clinical nutritionist and health and wellbeing expert Dr Vincent told Kochie’s Business Builders the importance of maintaining an exercise regime and eating healthily over the holidays.
“A lot of people work really hard in the lead up to Christmas at work and around the home trying to get things done and everything up to date, so they can go on leave and get the house ready for the family to arrive and they just end up making themselves sick,” Vincent said.
“As soon as you slow down, the body falls into a heap and you get sick. All the stress you have endured in the lead up to Christmas catches up with your body. While you are busy getting organised, the stress and fatigue on the body reduce your immune levels without you even realising it. When you relax, sickness hits. This is why so many people get colds and flu at Christmas time.
“Even worse, many people overeat and drink too much as well. On average, most Australians will put on at least one to two kilograms at Christmas time. This places additional pressure on the heart and other organs and this is why we see increases in heart attacks at Christmas time.”
Dr Vincent suggests there are five key tips to follow if you want to avoid sickness this holiday season.
Continue with your exercise regime. Don’t stop exercising.
Maintaining regular exercise and movement is important, especially during this time of year when you will be indulging more than usual and eating a lot of the wrong foods and consuming more alcohol than normal. Also by maintaining your physical activities, it allows you to get back into your normal routine once the holiday ends.
Increase hydration levels to ensure you are drinking enough water every day
Keeping your body hydrated will help your body to process alcohol and other substances faster and also support the organs. Be responsible with your consumption of alcohol. Drink water in between each glass and try and have alcohol free days. Supporting your body and your organs is important. It is recommended that men drink no more than two standard drinks per day and women drink no more than one.
Increase your intake of supplements, such as antioxidants to help support your body’s health and wellbeing.
Tiredness, stress, alcohol, certain foods all affect our body. Support your body to deal with these things. Simple antioxidant supplements help mop up free radicals which cause health problems are good to take every day.
Allow your mind and body to rest and relax
Many people experience increased stress and tiredness at this time of year. Maintaining mental health is as important as physical health. Rest enables you to clear your head and avoid unnecessary anxiety or tension which can occur when family and friends come together. Good quality sleep is quite often underrated but is actually the best form of resting and relaxation.
Avoid excessive naughty foods. If you do indulge, keep this to a minimum
Increased consumption of fatty and sweet foods can really affect your body at Christmas time. Despite the celebrations, do be cautious where possible and try and maintain a sense of balance and moderation with your eating.
Now you’ve taken care of your body…what about your mental health?
While it can be difficult to find time for yourself during the holiday season, especially when you run your own business, it is important to look after yourself.
Here are a few hints:
- Practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises
- Focus on what you can control instead of what you can’t.
- Set times when your phone and emails are turned off.
- Find or create a support group of peers where everyone can discuss the challenges of running a business.
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing depression, anxiety or stress, reach out for support. beyondblue provides information on depression, anxiety and suicide. Resources are also available for the workplace and there is a help section for carers, concerned family and friends. Support is available through their helpline 1300 22 4636, via chat or email.