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Christmas is a time for fun and indulgence – something we arguably need now more than ever, having endured a pandemic for the past two years. However, without wanting to dampen your festive spirit, it is important to be aware of some potential health hazards associated with the party season. Because whilst it might be tempting to completely let loose, it’s important to look after yourself and those around you, so we can all make the most of this special time.
With office Christmas parties cancelled last year and many people continuing to work from home, a lot of people will be looking forward to finally catching up with colleagues at the work Christmas do. Those who have put on a few ‘lockdown pounds’ since they last saw their colleagues may feel the pressure to lose them quickly in the run up to the big night out, but a word of warning that crash diets are never the answer. Depriving your body of essential nutrients can weaken your immune system and can cause serious heart problems.
The best way to lose weight is to eat a balanced nutritious diet and exercise regularly, and remember, it’s always best to speak to your GP before embarking on a radical new diet or exercise regime.
Sticking with the subject of food – tis the season to be tempted into overeating. Turkey dinner with all the trimmings, party nibbles, sweet treats… but be aware that overeating throughout the party season can lead to a variety of digestive problems and can lead to bloating, heartburn, indigestion and diarrhoea, as well as sleep problems.
The alternative is to try to be more mindful – think about what you’re eating, why you’re eating it, and how much you’re eating of it.
Drinking too much
Raising a glass to toast the holiday season is a tradition for many, however it can be easy to get carried away and allow that one glass to turn into another, and another, and another. The danger of doing so, however, is that this merry tipsy feeling can hamper your sense of coordination, leading to clumsy accidents – which could potentially be serious. It can also lower inhibitions, causing some to lose self-control or misjudge dangerous situations.
Limit your alcohol intake and alternate between glasses of water in between drinks to stay hydrated. There is also a great selection of alcohol-free alternatives on the market now which are well worth a try if you’d rather have a hangover-free experience this party season.
When the days are short, dark and cold, nothing beats cosying up indoors. However, this reduction in exposure to the sun during the winter can lead to problems such as vitamin D deficiency. It can also have a significant effect on mental health, causing Season Affective Disorder (SAD) which can affect your mood and motivation, cause tiredness, and affect sleep patterns.
Aim to get out for a brisk winter walk in the great outdoors once a day and invest in a lightbox to simulate sunshine.
As happy and joyous as the Christmas season can be, it can also be the source of a great deal of stress. Whether that be caused by money worries such as overspending on gifts and getting into debt as a result, or perhaps visiting relatives are the cause of tension.
Whatever the source of the stress, remember it’s always a good idea to talk to someone about it and seek help.
After last year’s restrictions on celebrations, many people will be feeling the pressure to make up for lost time and make this Christmas really count. They might commit to too many things, have a series of late nights and as a result, end up feel tired, run down, and more susceptible to illness.
Make sure you factor in time to take care of yourself over the holidays – a little self-care and me-time can go a long way.
Worrying about covid
Whilst many restrictions have eased and mingling with friends and family is now a possibility, it is understandable that many will feel anxious about doing so, as covid still poses a real risk.
However, there are practical steps we can all be taking to ensure those risks are kept to a minimum – have your two vaccines and booster vaccine as soon as you are eligible. Continue to wash and sanitise hands regularly, and wear masks in all indoor public spaces. Remember to take a Lateral Flow Test regularly, particularly if you plan to socialise, (the NHS Inform website explains where you can order and collect yours), and book a PCR Test if you feel any of the tell-tale symptoms – high temperature, sore throat, new and continuous cough.
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