*** The UK is start­ing to catch up and saunas are rapidly be­com­ing a so­cial ac­tiv­ity

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Front Page -

Per­haps more than any other time of year, De­cem­ber re­sem­bles a run­away roller­coaster of a month, a chunk of the cal­en­dar that blindly im­poses its will upon us and we are pow­er­less to stop. Sen­ti­men­tal Christ­mas ad­verts, pres­sure from friends and fam­ily, the in­evitable work stress as the hol­i­days ap­proach and good old so­cial con­di­tion­ing have made us hard-wired to view De­cem­ber as the month of un­fet­tered ex­cess.

At this time of year, we’re told it’s nor­mal for our healthy habits to fade to a dis­tant mem­ory, as early morn­ing gym ses­sions and yoga classes step aside for red wine hang­overs. Calo­ries and al­co­hol units slip past un­counted, and ev­ery un­wise health de­ci­sion we make – to fin­ish that bot­tle of cheap prosecco, to miss the last train home, to skip our beloved mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion that morn­ing – only makes the next poor de­ci­sion more nat­u­ral. Then, come the first of Jan­uary, a switch is flicked, and we join the masses in self­flag­el­la­tion, de­pri­va­tion and guilt-rid­den angst. We em­bark upon puni­tive di­etary regimes, refuse all so­cial in­vi­ta­tions, go en­tirely booze-free, and are then sur­prised when we find our­selves feel­ing blue by mid-jan­uary. Ob­vi­ously, this binge/purge men­tal­ity is far from ideal, and such an un­bal­anced win­ter in­evitably takes its toll on our health and hap­pi­ness.

“Ev­ery­thing about Christ­mas an­chors us to a state of ex­cess, when spend­ing, feasting, splurg­ing and binge­ing is ex­pected,” says hyp­nother­a­pist Jes­sica Bos­ton ( jes­si­ca­boston. com). “But it can also be an ex­cel­lent time to be­gin tak­ing steps to build up your willpower so it’s not so all-ornoth­ing for Jan­uary, a cold, hard and pretty broke month. Giv­ing up on ev­ery­thing at once in the new year (sugar, booze, cig­a­rettes) can be over­whelm­ing for your un­con­scious. So who not tackle it in parts in­stead?” Per­verse as it may sound, De­cem­ber is now the month in which I work hard­est at self-care. By tak­ing the right steps now, it’s still en­tirely pos­si­ble to en­joy all the many de­lights of the sea­son – catch­ing up with friends, cel­e­brat­ing with co-work­ers, eat­ing lots of de­li­cious food and let­ting our hair down over a few glasses of mulled wine – without get­ting trapped in a vi­cious cy­cle of ex­cess and guilt. I call it my pre-christ­mas pre-tox, and by shoring up sen­si­ble habits now, I can en­ter the hol­i­days feel­ing pos­i­tive. And best of all, I can sidestep all that Jan­uary guilt at the end of it.

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