‘Tis the season to be jolly, fab and healthy! The longest Christmas season in the world is upon us and it is a time of tradition, family and joy. However, that doesn’t mean that you should get caught up in the holiday frenzy and stop paying attention to what your body is telling you. In the spirit of good health and cheer, be informed of these holiday health hazards and what you can do about them:
1. Holiday Stress
Santa is not the only one keeping a list of who’s naughty and who’s nice. With the Christmas season comes a long list of people to buy gifts for: family, friends, co-workers, clients. Shopping this time of the year can practically become a battlefield: you’d have to compete with other discount-savvy shoppers for the best bargains in crowded malls, bazaars and tiangges on top of battling the horrendous and unpredictable traffic one has to survive to get to the shopping destinations. Carrying heavy packages can literally cause bodily harm (backaches, muscle strain, etc.). Avoid these aches and pains by taking periodic breaks and maintaining proper posture. Drop bags at the package counters or at your car in between stores. When lifting heavy objects, bend at the knees and tighten the stomach muscles. Hold the item close to you with legs apart to distribute the weight.
The number of parties and get-togethers one cannot keep track of can become an overwhelming burden whether as a guest or host. Women particularly find the holidays hard to manage as they juggle both work and family. Should you find yourself exhausted more than joyful this season, learn how to say “No” and don’t be afraid to enlist some help. Do not sacrifice proper sleep as this may lead to a lowered immune system.
2. Holiday Weight Gain
Endless parties mean endless food leading to weight gain and its associated health problems. Heavy meals, holiday stress, ignoring chest pain for fear of disrupting the festive mood and forgetting to take medication amidst the chaos and frenzy can add up to the perfect storm of risk factors increasing your risk for a heart attack or stroke.
There is nothing like the holiday season to put an end to all diets but remember to practice moderation. If the thought of health problems does not scare you, how about the image of those excess pounds making their way into your summer vacation pictures? Do not starve yourself, but do limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat, salt and sugar.
3. Food Poisoning and Overdrinking
Avoid food poisoning and other food-related illnesses by properly preparing meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. Wash hands and surfaces often. Use separate cutting boards and dishes so bacteria cannot spread from one food to the next. Do not leave dishes sitting for long periods and put away leftovers within two hours.
Excessive intake of alcoholic drinks can lead to fights, accidents, and the so-called “Holiday Heart Syndrome.” This condition was named due to its association with binge drinking, which becomes especially common during the holidays. Disturbances in the normal rhythm of the heart, palpitations, difficulty of breathing and chest pain may arise not just in people who consume alcohol for a long period of time but in people who appear to be previously healthy and can be triggered even by modest alcohol intake. Generally speaking though, avoid drinking before driving and when taking certain medications. Also, keep alcoholic beverages well away from the reach of children–what may be a safe amount of alcohol for an adult can cause alcohol poisoning for children.
4. Seasonal Affective Disorder
Do you feel sad and blue watching people come together during the holidays while you are left lonely and alone? You might actually have a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, for short. It is also known as the “winter blues.” While, there is no winter in the Philippines, the holiday season characterized by shorter days and longer nights coincides with a reduction in sunlight, which is thought to be one of the causes of the condition. People with SAD are not actually sad, they just feel tired and less interested in things. They tend to eat more and sleep more (similar to animals hibernating for the winter), which lead to weight gain and lower elf-esteem. The best solution is to seek help from professionals, who can then diagnose and treat you properly.
5. Decorating Disasters
Decorations are pretty but injuries are not. All the ingredients for a festive holiday celebration–twinkling candles, electric lights, Christmas trees, fireworks, toys–can also become safety hazards. Putting up these decorations can be hazardous to health as well. Do not leave candles unattended. When using ladders to hang decorations, check that they’re on secure and level ground. Do not climb the ladder with your hands full. Check electric lights for broken bulbs, cracked sockets, frayed wires or loose connections which can cause electrocution or spark a fire. Supervise children when playing with toys or decorations which might be choking hazards.
The overall excitement of the festivities can make you negligent about safety measures but exercising a bit of caution will ensure we keep the happiness and cheerfulness–not to mention, ourselves–alive.