The festive season is a time filled with Christmas cheer, abundant food and drink and a seemingly endless stream of social engagements and Christmas parties. Amidst the festivities, we are often left feeling fatigued and ready to escape to a tropical island for some rest and relaxation.
This is a time when it becomes even more important to take some time out to look after yourself and your nearest and dearest, and to be aware of the often-overlooked dangers of the festive season. ‘Dangers?’ you may ask. ‘What dangers?’ Here are some that we have come up with:
From the office Christmas party to the family lunch, the festive season is a time when food is often over-abundant, and we tell ourselves that abandoning our usual healthy(ish) eating patterns is entirely acceptable. While food is certainly a big part of social engagement, there are some simple ways to curb your excesses. It can be as simple as eating more slowly, skipping dessert occasionally, removing the skin from your portion of the Christmas turkey, or choosing the grilled chicken breast and salad rather than the burger-with-the-lot. Everything in moderation!
We all know that too much alcohol will leave us with a sore head and potentially some regrets the next day, but aside from its effects on our liver, head and mood, alcohol-related harms can have wide-ranging impacts on others. Alcohol-related assaults and drink-driving offences increase over the Christmas and New Year period, so remind yourself and your friends to have that extra glass of water between alcoholic drinks, and please leave the car at home.
3. Water safety and risk-taking
Days at the beach are one of the things which we most look forward to as the weather warms up. Protect yourself and your family by always swimming between the red-and-yellow flags, never leaving your children or your belongings unattended at the beach, obeying beach signs and lifeguards’ instructions, and avoiding risky activities like jumping off rocks and swimming under the influence of alcohol.
While Christmas is often seen as a time to connect with friends and loved ones, for many people it can feel the opposite. Many of us can feel isolated from our social and family networks during this time, whether it’s because of conflict, distance or loss. If you are feeling lonely, take some time to engage in some self-care, whether that means taking yourself out to see a film, to do some exercise or to do something simply for the sake of enjoying yourself; for example, having a massage or taking yourself out for lunch.
Don’t be afraid to reach out- often you’ll find that those around you are all too happy to lend an ear, or some time. Similarly, if you think that someone around you might be left on their lonesome this Christmas, reach out! Your offer will almost always be very much appreciated.
While our European counterparts are more concerned about slipping on icy footpaths, in Australia the Christmas period is often the hottest of the year. While we’re out enjoying ourselves, the dangers of sunburn, dehydration and heat stroke are often the last things on our minds.
You can protect yourself and your family by keeping plenty of drinking water on hand, applying sunscreen half an hour before going out in the sun and re-applying every two hours, following the principles of ‘Slip on a shirt, Slop on some sunscreen, Slap on a shirt, Wrap on some sunglasses and Seek shade.’
While gift-giving is exciting and the joy your children experience when opening their Christmas presents is palpable and wonderful, it’s important to remember that little mouths, curious minds and small toy parts don’t mix. Be sure to avoid leaving your children unattended with sharp or dangerous toys or household objects, and to keep a very close eye on them if and when they are playing with toys comprised of small parts which might be easily swallowed or inhaled; for example lego, build-your-own kits and small-part play equipment.