The Christmas Holidays are positioned as fun, happy and a time for family, friends and relaxing.
However, the holiday period can conjure up a few concerns for health and wellbeing.
Exposure to the harsh Aussie sun, overindulging and mental health triggers are some common ones. They can all be made much worse with excessive alcohol consumption, something that often creeps up at this time of year.
We list top tips to ensure your holiday period is happy and healthy so you don’t return to work in January more tired than at the end of December.
Leave some time for yourself
The holidays can be very busy for many of us, despite being off work. Make sure to leave some time for the things you like.
We’re talking about healthy things here.
A walk with friends or even alone, time for your favourite hobbies or perhaps taking on a project you’ve been thinking about over the last year.
Fixing/repairing something, gardening, DIY around the house or taking up a sport are some examples.
The holidays are a great opportunity to kick off a NewYear’s Resolution you might have, so leave some time for yourself to make it happen.
It’s easy to overeat during the holidays, especially on Christmas Day surrounded by temptations.
Here are some tips to help you manage your calorie intake:
- Select mindfully by ensuring you add greens, salads and healthy food to your meals.
- Control portions by starting with smaller portions and going back for seconds if necessary to avoid piling your plate with large quantities of food.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, this is especially important if you consume alcohol too.
- Limit high-calorie and sugary foods.
- Opt for grilled, baked or steamed dishes rather than fried or heavily sauced ones.
- Be selective about dessert options, pick one or two favourites rather than trying everything.
- Set expectations beforehand by telling yourself what you will and won’t eat and drink.
- Listen to your body by paying attention to fullness. Stop eating when you feel satisfied, not overly full.
Beware of the sun
Well all know that the UV rays are dangerous and intensify over the summer months. Make sun protection part of your routine these holidays.
Remember to apply SPF50+ sunscreen, the highest protection rating available in Australia, and wear a hat, sunglasses and long sleeves.
Additionally, don’t forget that being in the shade doesn’t always mean you’re protected. UV rays can reflect off surfaces like sand and concrete and penetrate clouds.
🌞 If it’s been a while since your last skin check, now is a great time to ensure you skin isn’t hiding anything.
Book a skin check today and know how your skin health stacks up before time in the sun.
Don’t make it all about alcohol
Excessive alcohol consumption and binge drinking come with an increased risk of health problems. That’s in addition to the increased risk of personal injury and damage to your bank account.
Don’t let your holidays be about alcohol.
This can be difficult if you find yourself pressured by friends and family members, something quite common around Christmas.
Instead, set a few expectations beforehand, perhaps informing them (and yourself) that you won’t be drinking too much, aka ‘only having a few’.
Also, try to aim for drinks with a lower alcohol content, these are often cheaper too.
Respect your mental health
Did you know that the Christmas holidays are a busy time of the year for health professionals in regards to mental health concerns?
There are a few reasons why:
Increased family tensions. Families often get together at Christmas which can sometimes strain relationships, especially if members may not get along well.
Isolation. Some people can feel extra lonely over the holiday period, especially if they don’t have friends and family around.
Financial pressure. The Christmas period can put a lot of strain on budgets and bank accounts as people travel, entertain family and friends and spend more than they would at other times of the year.
These pressures can all be exacerbated by excessive alcohol consumption, so consider your plans and prepare mentally to minimise any stress.
There are ways to reduce risks to your mental wellbeing:
Set boundaries and communicate
Talk openly with family and friends about your needs and boundaries and let them know if you need some alone time or if certain activities/events are causing stress.
It’s okay to say “no” to commitments or events if you feel overwhelmed. Some people find that social events in small doses, meaning leaving early or only attending a few, works well.
If you know, or even have a feeling that a certain event might cause you stress over the holidays, think about how you can minimise it and prepare mentally.
For example, you might avoid a certain person, come up with sensible ways to deal with things or replace expensive activities with cheaper ones if financial pressure gets to you.
Reflect and plan
With the year ending and the next one beginning, it’s a great time to reflect on what went well and why, and what you could improve on.
You’ll no doubt have had a few wins over the last 12 months, so be proud of your accomplishments.
Set a New Year’s Resolution with realistic and achievable goals. It can be a big lift to have some solid plans in place.
Health and the holidays in summary
The Christmas holidays are meant to be happy and joyful, and luckily, they usually are.
However, there are a number of risks that can increase over the silly season, so it’s best to do what you can to minimise them.
To recap some standouts:
- Overindulging and overeating
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Sun exposure, and
- Mental wellbeing
Consider what you’ve got planned over the break. There might be a few ways to add in something healthier.
Coming back to work in January feeling refreshed is a gift you can give yourself.