Christmas is not, traditionally, the healthiest time of year. It’s become a time of feasting and rest – and while neither of those are, in and of themselves, bad things, too much of anything is, by definition, bad for you.
Today we’re taking a look at the impact of Christmas on your health, and what you can do to rebalance the scales.
The Christmas holidays can interfere with your exercise – and while a rest is no bad thing, if your mental or physical health rests significantly on regular exercise then it’s worth thinking about how you can compensate. If you spend Christmas away from home, with family or friends, then you may not have everything you normally use for your exercise, be it clothing or equipment or simply privacy!
Think about how you can adapt over a short period. Taking yourself for a daily walk may not be the same as your usual long runs or weight lifting but it can still raise your heart rate healthily, and perhaps more importantly gets you outside, taking in the natural world and away from the pressure cooker atmosphere that can build in even the most serene family home over the holidays.
One thing Christmas encourages like nothing else is overindulging at the dinner table. Even after the excesses of Christmas lunch are cleared away, cheese, chocolate, cake and pudding all haunt the afternoon and the following week. None of these are a problem necessarily, but they can lead to indigestion and stomach upsets if you’re unlucky!
Being ready for such eventualities can help to lessen their effects and the time you’re afflicted by symptoms. Stockpiling antacids means you won’t find yourself in desperate need on Christmas Day, but you need to think a little beyond that. Many symptoms of upset stomach (or other forms of Christmas overindulgence) can cause or are in turn caused by dehydration. From the blinding headache that characterises a hangover to the shakiness if you’ve been suffering diarrhea, loss of your body’s fluid reserves and the electrolytes contained within. A rehydration product like ORS tablets or isotonic sports drinks will help.
For many reasons, Christmas can be an intense time. It’s full of reminders of previous joys and heartbreaks, pressure to get on with difficult family members or awkward conversations and confrontations. It can be lonely or over-social.
There’s no single cure for the mental pressures of Christmas, but it can help to plan ahead. Identify what you think the major stresses will be for you, and look for calming things you can do – getting out of the house for a solitary walk under the guise of picking up groceries, work that you need to ‘check in on’ to get you out of difficult conversations or friends you can call for support can all help keep you balanced and happy over the intensity of the festive season.