Tis the season, but don’t go overboard


The holiday season is upon us, and we’re all frantically buying presents at the Metropole, going to parties, choosing the right outfits, organising family visits – and definitely over-indulging in alcohol.

It’s inevitable, really, and there’s no point in trying to fight it but there are a few things you can do to make this period of the year more enjoyable and less stressful, not just for you but also for those around you.

Drinking is a huge factor that adds to holiday stress, even though many tipplers tend to think a cup-a-cheer takes the edge off. If one person in a couple is drinking heavily, whether socially or at home, it can be detrimental to the relationship, from a drunk person waking up a partner to stubbornly getting behind the wheel impaired.

The World Health Organisation reports that “alcohol is the sixth leading cause of ill health and premature death in high-income countries”. In the US, an estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related deaths making alcohol the country’s third leading preventable cause of death.

Beyond its risk factor for premature mortality (cirrhosis, cancer, cardiovascular diseases), alcohol use is linked to more than 200 health conditions. Additionally, in the European Region, WHO claims “alcohol has a causal impact in approximately 15 percent of all causes of death, with the highest proportion of deaths attributable to alcohol being among men aged 20-39 years”.

I’m not suggesting we all fall into this category, but over the next few weeks, try to choose water over yet another glass of wine and alternate the two beverages to keep your alcohol intake in check. Volunteer to be the designated driver and give yourself a booze-free night.

There are other ways to also “take the edge off”.

First of all, give yourself the gift of pause. You deserve a break from stress. Wrap up warm and go and sit at Lavrotto beach or Mala Plage at Cap d’Ail for a few minutes, put away your phone and enjoy being in a quiet moment. Or wake up a little earlier and enjoy your morning coffee before the rest of the house wakes up (a good habit regardless of the time of year).

Secondly, give yourself the gift of choice. We’ve all been there, another festive dinner at Bhudda-Bar surrounded by not your favourite people (who you’ll probably have to pick up the tab for) when you’d rather be on the couch in the comfort of your own home. Yes, these forced evenings can be tiring but choose the right attitude to carry you through. Who knows, by opening yourself up, you may learn something new about your dinner companion and enjoy the evening after all.

Thirdly give yourself the gift of change. Don’t try to make big changes before the holiday season. You’ll most likely not succeed so enjoy this time (and indulge like me). Instead, until the New Year, write down the things you’d like to change in the future, starting with little things.

You can find some great little notebooks, like the ones sold at Grande Papeterie de Monte-Carlo (14 ave de la Costa), to keep handy for when ideas come to you. When the holidays are over, find yourself a cosy spot – personally I love the lobby at the Hermitage or Metropole Hotel – and peruse your jotted list to see which resolutions you think are doable. Obviously you can take notes on your smartphone but disconnecting for a while is part of the process.

Above all, don’t let the hectic pace of December get to you. If you know your diet is going to be especially bad, make sure you balance it out with at least a healthy breakfast or take some extra vitamin supplements to carry you over.

Consider a detox once the frantic feeding period is over. Your body will need it after going overboard during your holiday in Monaco.

And most importantly, if you or someone you love is struggling with drinking, Alcoholics Anonymous has five meetings in English across the week in Monaco, between St Paul’s Church (22 ave Grande Bretagne) and the Eglise Reformée (9 Rue Louis Notari): Sunday 7-8 pm (St Paul’s); Monday 7-8:15 pm (St Paul’s); Tuesday 12:30-1:30 pm (Eglise Reformée); Thursday 7-8 pm (Eglise Reformée) and Friday 12:30-1:30 pm (St Paul’s).

Alternatively, there’s help available at the Princess Grace Hospital Addiction Unit (+377 97 98 84 22).

Udi Gon-Paz is a Wellness Coach and a Functional Therapist specialising in Clinical Nutrition and Stress management. Licensed in Monaco and the UK.


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