Lucy Watkins talks about people’s Health over the festive period
As we approach the end of the year this is a gentle reminder for you to look after yourselves, both physically and mentally over the festive Christmas period. It can be a very stressful and sometimes lonely time for many, so look out for yourselves, and those around you. Oftentimes the minute we stop work we are laid low with a cough, or a cold so read on and prepare yourself.
Why do people get ill over Christmas and how to avoid it
The festive season comes loaded with many lovely things, including delicious meals, events, parties, and family get-togethers. Sadly though, there’s often a downside to Christmas, with a spike in illnesses often the unexpected gift that visits along with Santa each year.
Let’s take a closer look at the main reasons people often fall sick during the festive Christmas period. This will help us to come up with possible ways to try and prevent these sickness outbreaks.
During the festive period, people often tend to spend more time indoors. While this may sound appealing, it comes with some downsides — spending too much time indoors can cut off your body’s supply of healthy gut bacteria. Unfortunately, we cannot help but stay indoors during the Christmas period as for most the weather is cold and wet, and the days are shorter. The reduced physical activity can cause some cold and flu viruses to thrive, causing a spike in the occurrence of some fever-type illnesses.
So, is there a way to combat this? The best way to avoid getting ill due to staying indoors is to let in as much fresh air as possible. You could do this by keeping a window or door open to allow for proper ventilation and enhanced air circulation.
Being one of the most popular holidays in the world, it is safe to say that Christmas holidays are pretty busy periods, and as such, they come with lots of stress which just adds to an already busy life. As we know, stress has a lot of negative effects on our overall well-being. It weakens the immune system, making it hard for your body to fight bacteria. These stressors can result in colds and sores as the body becomes easily attacked by bacteria.
It is easy to understand the reasons for the high level of stress during the Christmas period. Many people have a lot of parties to plan, events to attend, family outings, and so much more. Trying to juggle all these activities often stresses the life out of people, making them even more vulnerable to sickness.
Fortunately, this stress can be managed. But how? Well, consider adopting proper time management techniques. With adequate management of your time, you would know when to stop partying and get healthier meals ready, when to go shopping, and when to get some sleep.
LACK OF ADEQUATE SLEEP
Despite the importance of decent sleep, we only get to enjoy a minimal amount of sleep during the Christmas holidays. With the prevalence of parties during Christmas, there is often little time left to enjoy a decent sleep. As expected, this sleep deprivation comes with a load of consequences. For example, it can attack your immune system and negatively affect how your body fights against diseases like the common cold.
But what do we do? Cancel the Christmas parties?
Not necessarily so. You can avoid falling ill due to lack of adequate sleep by ensuring that you get a decent amount of sleep each night and rest up whenever you can get in between your busiest days. When you need to stay up late at night, try to get enough sleep during the early morning hours to compensate for the lack of sleep.
NOT EATING WELL
Did you know that some people end up suffering from malnutrition during the Christmas period? But skipping meals, eating at irregular times and eating too much of the wrong foods can easily lead to malnutrition and eventually result in a weakened immune system and high susceptibility to diseases.
To avoid this, ensure you deliberately fill your diet with fruits and vegetables that offer a generous supply of essential vitamins and minerals. Doing so would strengthen your immune system and reduce the occurrence of festive period illnesses to the minimum.
It is a well-established fact that diseases come as a result of exposure to certain bacteria. These bacteria thrive well in a dirty environment. Therefore, the onus is on everyone to ensure the maintenance of proper hygiene to curb the spread of disease during the Christmas season.
The sure bet is to adhere to simple hygiene precautions, such as washing hands regularly, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, proper use of disinfectants, and so much more.
The festive period is a time to loosen our belts a little and treat ourselves to some luxuries without feeling bad about it. But wouldn’t it also be nice to get to the New Year and not feel the need to endure a month of abstinence?
TREAT EVERY DAY LIKE A FRESH START
It’s very easy to write off the entire Christmas period as a time to overindulge and to free yourself of restrictions when it comes to diet. The problem for most of us is that this comes hand in hand with feelings of guilt come January. Rather than taking this all-or-nothing approach, Try to treat every day as a separate entity. If you’ve had a blow-out the night before, don’t feel that the next day (or week) is “ruined” and needs to go down the same track. Don’t be tempted to skip meals, but instead focus on eating as well as you can (lots of fruit & vegetables, good-quality protein, healthy fats, and plenty of water) in between all the partying!
MAINTAIN ONE ROUTINE
Whether it’s your daily breakfast smoothie (where you cram your 5-a-day into the Nutri Bullet), a morning yoga session, or an evening jog, choose one of your daily healthy rituals and commit to sticking to it throughout the festive period. This way you know that, whatever else happens, you are doing at least one good thing for your body each day.
DON’T FEEL BOUND BY FESTIVE RULES
There can be a tendency at Christmas to think that you have the fulfil the festive list of obligatory foods…. mince pies (tick), mulled wine (tick), Christmas pudding (tick). We sometimes find ourselves eating foods that we don’t particularly like because of our commitment to tradition, and/or a fear of being impolite to our hosts! Don’t be afraid to say “no” to the foods that you can take or leave, and instead really enjoy those treats that you love!
IT’S ABOUT BALANCE NOT DEPRIVATION
Christmas and New Year is all about enjoyment and food can be an important part of this, so don’t restrict yourself, just don’t go completely mad. Stay conscious of what you’re eating by avoiding mindless eating in front of the TV and in between meals. One way this can be avoided is by keeping food contained to the kitchen. I know that come mid-December in many households every room in the house suddenly contains a bowl of something, be it nuts, crisps, Quality Street or a decanter of port. Keep these foods out of arms reach, and you are less likely to overindulge!
EAT BEFORE YOU DRINK
Never, ever attend festive drinks without eating first (and don’t rely on the canapés as they are often few and far between). Most alcohol absorption takes place in the stomach and in the upper part of the digestive tract. When you eat, the combined alcohol and food stays in the stomach longer than just booze alone, which means the alcohol isn’t released into the bloodstream as quickly. Ideally choose something to eat that contains fat (fish, meat, cheese, olives, nuts and avocado are all good options) as this further slows the rate at which the alcohol is absorbed, giving your body more time to process it. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water too – your head will thank you for it the next morning.
LOOK AFTER YOUR LIVER
Chances are your body’s main detoxifying organ is going to have to work a little harder than usual over the festive period, so rather than swear to give it a rest in January, support it now. Think of your liver like a car, if you treat it with care and keep it well maintained – it won’t need a complete overhaul come MOT time! In amongst the festive feasting, try to pack in plenty of liver supportive foods such as lemon, turmeric, garlic, kale, beetroot, and avocado.
There is nothing like a long, crisp winter walk to get you feeling back on track after a bit of indulgence. Great to aid the digestion and clear the mind!
With all that useful information – What is your goal for 2023?