Doctor’s orders: ‘No guilt, give yourself a break’

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Clinical psychologist Dr Vivienne Lewis… “It’s been a hard year but we’ve got through it and sometimes we need to acknowledge that we are stronger than we think we are.”

IT’S time to let go of all the food guilt and just enjoy the damn pie!

With the holiday season and festive guilt in full swing, clinical psychologist at the University of Canberra Dr Vivienne Lewis says it’s not naughty to indulge over the holidays, just don’t overdo it.

“The whole point of the holiday season is to relax and enjoy yourself,” says Dr Lewis.

“It’s okay to indulge a bit more than you might normally, but try to keep active, do a bit of exercise and don’t overdo it consistently because that will have an effect on your health and well-being.”

The holidays don’t have to ruin your wellness plan and make you turn as green as the Grinch.

In fact indulging in a little of what you fancy can be better for you in the long run, according to Dr Lewis.

“It’s all about getting away from feeling guilty,” she says.

“It’s normal that we eat more this time of year and there’s nothing wrong with that, so don’t beat yourself up if you have been over-indulging a bit.”

This is important reassurance, especially at a time when temptation is everywhere. 

“If people are going to indulge over Christmas that’s fine, it’s only a couple of days, but if people are doing it over a long period of time, that’s when they will start to experience health issues.”

Dr Lewis says indulging is often not the problem, it’s our attitude to our bodies and food.

“Food isn’t bad,” she explains.

“You haven’t done anything wrong by eating mince pies and turkey, we need to take the guilt away from food and associating it with some moral value.”

Given the uncertainty that this year has thrown at us, Dr Lewis’ message is “just give yourself a break”.

“Be kind to yourself, look after yourself,” says Dr Lewis.

“It’s been a hard year but we’ve got through it and sometimes we need to acknowledge that we are stronger than we think we are.”

Psychologist Kate Fasch… “I think covid has taught us to slow down, take stock and realise what’s important.”

It might be hard to count our blessings in 2020, but Canberra psychologist Kate Fasch says it can’t take away what’s best about the season: gratitude, love, and connection.

“There’s been a lot of marketing to say you should spoil yourself because of the year it’s been, but I think covid has taught us to slow down, take stock and realise what’s important,” Ms Fasch says.

“You don’t have to have a massive spread at Christmas just because you have all the family over or because your sister-in-law is watching.

“You don’t have to spend up big because everyone else is, just do whatever makes you feel good and above all be kind to yourself and others.”

Ms Fasch says Canberrans should make the most of the holidays by switching off from work and recharging.

“It’s been a really difficult year,” she says.

“Give yourself permission to feel whatever emotion you are feeling and don’t beat yourself up if you are not feeling jolly all the time.

“Go easy on yourself, take a break, do what makes you happy, show kindness to yourself and others.”

A sentiment echoed by Dr Lewis.

“Take time off,” Dr Lewis says.

“People tend to do too much with the family and are exhausted from their holiday so it’s really important to have down time where you really slow down.”

And if you do over-indulge this holiday season, don’t sweat it, just start afresh in 2021.

“But don’t put yourself on a diet that is going to make you miserable because it never works,” Dr Lewis says.

“Diets don’t work if you feel starved or deprived, be realistic and be sensible about it.”


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