Peaceful family gatherings and indulgent festive feasts is how I like to think of Christmas time. But there is the less harmonious side of Christmas too - the drunken office parties and the over-crowded shopping experience of gift buying.
Our social complexities mean that many of us find some or all aspects of Christmas rather stressful. Maybe the sense of obligation to attend the work Christmas party or the battling of the crowds at the shopping malls is the source of your anxiety. Large crowds, especially the seemingly intense crowds of Christmas consumers, really do spark the fight or flight response in me.
'Social Anxiety' is defined as the persistent fear of or anxiety about one or more social or performance situations that is out of proportion to the actual threat posed by the situation. For example, the fear of not attending the office Christmas party for fear of what others may think of you.
Okay, I admit the threat posed by an unusually large crowd at the local Blackrock shopping centre is probably minimal in reality but is enough to send me on a hasty retreat back to my desk and amazon.com
I am somewhat conflicted with my reliance on internet shopping nowadays. I do feel committed to the cause of supporting the local, smaller or independent retailers at their bricks and mortar location. However, being able to avoid lengthy queues as well as the frustration trying to find what I am looking for in confusing aisles plus the fact that things are often cheaper online, it's hard not to fall back to the efficiency of internet shopping.
Some say that the internet is a risky place for impulse buyers. I think the physical retail stores are worse by a long shot. The layout of retail space, the special offers, the products you find on the shelves either side of you while waiting in queue to pay are all cleverly designed to extract more money from you for things you may not want or need. This is especially the case when buying food and apparently if we are hungry while doing our food shop we end up buying more than we actually need and more likely to include sweeter items too.
Maybe shopping online for groceries too could be a simple and effective strategy for weight management.
While on the topic I invite you to read our Christmas newsletter if you haven't already. We take a look at the joys and challenges presented by the family feast and how many of us can end up consuming as much as 6000 calories on Christmas day, the equivalent of 42 bananas of 23 hamburgers.
Despite the risk of over-eating I am already rather excited about Christmas lunch being only 2 days away.
Merry Christmas and we hope your holidays are a peaceful and stress-free time.