Am I in a food coma, or is it the thought of wasting another year that is making me explode?
Ah, Christmas. Christmas carol groups thumping at your door while you’re tying to concentrate on NARCOS Spanish dialogues; your mother going into absolute shutdown in the kitchen and the good old dose of family gatherings, from which where you leave 10 kg heavier and a pair of jeans to throw away from being overstretched.
I love Christmas. Like any other holiday, Italians celebrate Christmas by sitting at the dinner table on Christmas Eve until midnight, somehow drag their full bodies to church, shake some hands, hug some people, side-eye their kitchen enemy – and back home for round two: the Christmas lunch.
A food coma and lazing on the couch with a Harry Potter marathon playing on the lounge tv is a must after an Italian feast.
But Christmas comes with New Year’s Eve and that comes with a truckload of self-doubts, copious amounts of regrets and this underlying feeling of being an absolute failure.
You check the 2015 goals you scribbled on that freshly (and expensive) 2015 diary that you immediately abandoned in a box in February, and you get this burning sensation on your chest. Like when you slept through your alarm and you realise how badly you have to run to the bus stop and somehow manage to do your make up on your Snapchat screen.
It’s okay, we all mess up our NY goals. Also, it’s okay to feel a bit of a failure at family gatherings – some family members don’t really help with their inappropriate questions on the career you haven’t even started yet.
Because when humans gather around a table, with nothing to do, but eating and drinking, it’s inevitable that the conversation goes into questioning one own’s life choices.
If you can feel the anxiety creeping on you and you are already rolling your eyes at your mum asking about your failed internship attempt over the winter break, then this is for you.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE HOLIDAY SEASON WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND AND MOTIVATION
Before (Feast), After (Tea Detox).
It’s inevitable. You will eat a lot in the next couple of weeks. Your grandma will lock herself in the house to cook a 15-course meal, which she will attempt to to force down your throat, as if you were a goose to fatten up.
You will eat and lose yourself in the pleasure of eating and drinking with your friends and family; but then it will hit you. The calories, the bursting belly pushing against the buttons of your jeans, the feeling of bloating up like Aunt Marge in Harry Potter. You have turned into a Christmas tree decoration.
And because advertising and media agencies are aware of the overeating season, every single publishing channel will be pushing the same, annoying, capslock-propaganda: DO YOU FEEL FAT AFTER TURNING INTO A CHRISTMAS TURKEY? TRY THIS 10-DAY DETOX!
Now, take that detox information. And then set it on fire.
You don’t need that kind of energy to funk with the kind of person you wish to become in 2016. Actually, you don’t need that kind of energy in any moments of your life, because that doesn’t teach you how to take care of your body – it teaches you how to hate it.
Your body is way more complex and smarter than a 10-day detox diet. It will adapt to the amount of food ingested and adjust to it. But above all, the holiday season is the time to be spent with your beloved ones and to share food, snuggly moments watching Christmas movies and appreciating the fact that you are brought together in a safe and healthy environment.
There are bigger battles to fight out there, don’t start the one with your body.
Saying that, if you suffer from disordered eating and you simply do not cope well with the holidays feasts, make sure that you put your mental health safety first.
The ‘What are you going to do with your life’ question
You know it’s coming. Family members haven’t seen you for years and the first thing they have to ask is what your plans are for the new year, aka they are subtly asking you what the heck you are actually going to do with your life.
You can’t deny it, it’s the most hated questions thrown over the dinner table and it’s inevitable, because sometimes adults forget how scary and confusing it is to be a young person. The incredible and limitless amount of possibilities, the false sense of having your shit together because you hold an expensive piece of paper hung up on the wall, but the crippling fear that haunts you at night – that you’re actually not going to do anything with your life, because there isn’t much out there to grab.
You will sweat, nervously laugh and say something like: “Not sure yet, just seeing where this takes me”, “Uhm, I think I am going to major in [x] and then apply for [x]”. When in reality that fake grin and the darkness in your empty eyes make you look like the guy from American Psycho.
You are sweating “I DON’T KNOW, STOP FREAKING ASKING ME!!!!!!”, you just want to bury your face inside the turkey and cover your mouth in mashed potato, if it’s what it takes to curve ball that question.
Here is a fact that you might not be aware of:
What you do with your life is YOUR business and your business only.
It might be hard to understand that, especially if you’re a Millenial because we have some sort of messed up self-guilt of not doing enough combined with the fear of disappointing our parents in an economy where things like Facebook are founded and start-ups pop out of nowhere like Kim Kardashian’s business ventures.
But for real, you don’t owe anything to anyone. You parents have nurtured you, sacrified things for you and may be proud of your achievements, but if your only desire in life is bartendering on a white-sandy beach in Thailand, then go for it.
Doing whatever you want isn’t an excuse to quit everything and just go to the other side of the world, getting slammed every night; but these years are your investments.
We are the first generation that is seriously going to struggle at having some sort of retirement fund, or any financial stability. So might as well stumble onto life and understand what you want to do, by trying as many things as you can, learning from your mistakes and getting to know the person you are growing into.
That’s what matters.
A Christmas dinner isn’t a job interview. You are not obliged to answer with complete honestly and well-thought rationality to a question like that. You are not even obliged to answer to that question in the first place.
You owe yourself to be happy and to be truthful to your passions and goals; not to impress your friends at the NYE party to show them that you have your shit together.
Take it easy.
Winding down after the rush of late Christmas shopping and high-pressure projects to complete before the new year, you will struggle to relax.
You will find yourself reaching out for your phone to refresh your inbox, or you might have a brilliant idea in the middle of the night and want to start a business before Christmas.
Alright, make yourself a cup of tea, hot chocolate, glass of whisky – whatever releases the tension and sit on the couch.
Pick up the books you have always wanted to read, the movies you have put on your queue for months – and just enjoy this moment of complete quiet.
You need to relax, get lost in the complete silence of your mind, of having nothing to do. No reponsibilities, like baby Jesus.
This is your time to relax, don’t skip it otherwise you will spend the whole 2016 wishing you had done this.
There is nothing wrong with relaxing, if done with full intention and mindfulness. Don’t just half relax and rush into doing things. Just live with the moment of being a lazy ass on the couch and let it go.
You have to be ready for the busiest time of the year.
The drafting of the New Year plans.
It will arrive. After the eating, the relaxing, the partying and the inevitable feeling too full, too bloated and not so successful – you will fall into the new year goal-making trap.
It’s inevitable because we all go through the same feelings of having procrastinated all year and the burning desire of being better, feeling better and achieve better.
However, stop for a minute.
You don’t need to go all crazy for this new year goal-planning. Once I spent over $45 on expensive stationary that I thought would help keeping myself motivated in achieving my goals.
Breaking news: expensive stationary will not magically turn you into a VS model, nor it will add $2 millions in your bank accounts.
So my advice is to take it slow on the goal crafting. Take your time with enjoying your holidays as much as possible, because you need quiet and stretched out muscles to take that big jump.
Write down on a piece of paper what you wish to have and be in general, not just the next year. Don’t just focus on the next year, because you are instantly setting yourself for failure; pushing yourself within the limits of 365 days increases the chance of not getting anything done.
Have some big-picture goals, but describe them to the tiniest detail.
Write them down on something that you know will always be there with you and don’t waste time around planning things, because you will find yourself exhausted from all the to-do lists and workout schedules and not actually getting things done.
You are not being productive if you are spending three hours crafting goals and making vision boards. Be organised and get shit done when you need to do it.
And lastly, a big advice that might sound like fried air but you need it the most.
I know it’s cool to act like the Grinch and be the cynical nephew glued to his smartphone, hating the holidays and impatiently waiting for the party to be over. It’s random and strange how it’s cool to act uncool today.
However, it’s time to share gratitude. Christmas is a jolly, festive time of the year, however, suicide attempts and case of loneliness spike up during this time of the year.
Why? Because of the pressure of faking a happiness and sense of self-confidence that sometimes it’s not even there, or it’s struggling to get there.
However, sharing gratitude will be a moving force in trying to cut through the melancholic feeling of sadness that haunts you.
Share the love with your beloved friends and family. If you feel like there is nothing to share with them, go to your local homeless shelter, or women shelter and ask them what they need.
We should be grateful every month of the year, but especially at this time of the year that we have more time, more stress and more desire to give back, that it’s when people also need it the most.
So happy holidays and stay tuned for a guide on how to really craft your goals for the years that come.