Christmas Health Risks and How to Beat Them

9th December 2019 by Anna Tzani

For all of us, Christmas is a time of celebration, enjoying the festive spirit and spending time with loved ones. You may have your Christmas menu planned, your tree decorated and your presents wrapped, but have you thought about the potential dangers?

Risk 1: Alcohol

One of the biggest features of the party season is alcohol. It’s also a time for parties and social gatherings, such as work Christmas parties, family get-togethers and New Year’s Eve, where the alcohol is likely to be flowing.

Not only does alcohol seem to be everywhere, but people are more likely to want to persuade you to get ‘merry’ and have a drink with them. With all the festivities, it’s possible that you find yourself ‘swept up’ in the Christmassy spirit, and what can start off as one innocent drink, can soon lead to losing control. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Try to focus on spending time with friends and family, rather than food and drink
  • Watch out for alcohol hidden in cakes and puddings
  • If you must attend an event where alcohol is being served, have a plan in place to leave the moment you start feeling uncomfortable

Risk 2: Melancholy

Society drums into us the idea that Christmas is a time of joy, laughter, cheerfulness and partying. There is a constant reminder that you should be happy, even when you feel otherwise, which can make you melancholic.

This social pressure can make you want to withdraw from other people – which again, can be difficult during a season filled with parties, social events and get-togethers. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Speak to a family member or friend about how you’re feeling. It is often the case that a problem shared is a problem halved, and they may be able to shield you from the expectations of the season.
  • Avoid alcohol. It may help you feel better in the short-term, but in the long-term, they can make you feel a lot worse.
  • Try and be positive. Write down three positive things about your life every night before going to sleep and reflect on these when you wake up in the morning.
  • Get yourself ‘out there’. Try attending a gathering or other form of social event over Christmas, especially with your closest family and friends. Go with an open mind, and you might find that you enjoy yourself.

Risk 3: Stress

There is no doubt that Christmas can be stressful. Cooking, buying presents, decorating your home, going to events, cleaning up after family gatherings… the list gets endless!

Not only is Christmas an incredibly busy time, there’s also the added pressure of financial worries and feelings of guilt if you can’t afford to buy presents. Social media can also play a role in amplifying your stress during the holiday season, as comparing yourself to others’ seemingly ‘perfect’ Christmas can leave you feeling sad for not having the best decorations, tree, food or presents. Here are some tips to help you minimise stress:

  • Stop trying to please everyone
  • Set yourself a budget for Christmas shopping and stick to it
  • Spread out your diary – try and schedule events in November and January instead of focusing them all in December
  • Take a break from social media and stop comparing yourself to others
  • Your loved ones need your presence, not your gifts!

Risk 4: Accidents

There are more accidental falls and traffic accidents in December, with bad weather and short daylight hours both playing a part. Snow and ice can be a lethal opponent to even the fittest individual and the best drivers.

At the same time, every year 1,000 people are injured by their Christmas tree, usually while fixing decorations to the higher branches and 350 people are hurt by Christmas tree lights.

How to be safe? Here are some tips:

  • Think ahead about how you are going to travel home and if the road you are about to drive on is safe. If you walk home, have a pair of flat shoes with you. Snow underfoot can be dangerous.
  • Stand well back from the platform edge if you’re travelling home by train or tube – even if you’re not drunk, others may be.
  • Check your fairy lights and any other electrically powered Christmas decorations before using them. If cables are frayed or fittings damaged in any way, dispose them.
  • Switch all lights and electrical decorations off at night and when you go out.

Risk 5: Unfestive fever

Winter is popular for getting sick. Flu and cold symptoms have a knack for developing just when you want to enjoy your Christmas break. The truth is that when we relax, our stress hormones fall out of balance and this leaves us at risk of infections.
Colds, sore throats and painful joints are all more prevalent in winter. But here are some things you can do to minimise the risk:

  • Look after your body. In amongst the festive feasting, try to pack in plenty of liver supportive foods such as lemon, turmeric, garlic, kale, beetroot and avocado.
  • Get walking. There is nothing like a long, crisp winter walk to get you feeling back on track after a bit of indulgence. Research proved that a daily walk could cut your risk of catching a cold by a whopping 50%!
  • Stay warm. Cold weather tells your brain to conserve body heat, which in turn reduces blood flow. Decreased blood flow means fewer infection-fighting white blood cells, leaving you more vulnerable to viruses.
  • Wash your hands regularly. Suppose you’ve touched a surface that contains strep bacteria. You’re not doomed for the worst sore throat of your life! If you lather up with soap and warm water and scrub for at least 20 seconds, you can remove germs from your hands before they enter your body. Christmas is surrounded by togetherness, reflection and a feeling of peace. It is notoriously a time to indulge, but do not let this be the green light to overindulge.

From all of us at medDigital have a happy, healthy festive season!