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Your Christmas survival kit

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Christmas can be beautiful. It can also be stressful, boozy, exhausting and fattening. So Virtual Medical Centre is here to help. By collating medical studies and professional advice, we can arm you with all the tips and tools it takes to get through the silly season. By reading for just several minutes, we can help you with nearly everything – except maybe the in-laws…

Christmas’ forgotten friend: Exercise

We have so much to remember in December, like presents, functions, families and friends, but the first casualty of Christmas is often exercise.

It is proven that regular exercise is essential for health and happiness, so do yourself a favour and make time. You can even schedule it in your diary right now and then it will be impossible to forget.

Unfortunately, raising a beer to your mouth does not qualify as sufficient exercise or even a decent bicep curl. However, no one is saying you have to run marathons on your well-earned holidays.

So mix it up. Go down to the beach on a glorious summer day for a swim and a walk. Include the guests staying at your house or even family and friends, so it isn’t such a chore. A bit of beach cricket is perfect for the kids as well, so you can still have your love ones around you. Or whatever happened to putting on the sprinklers and letting the little ones run through? … Well, on your rostered day, perhaps.

For those who might want some time out from all the noise, though, pilates and yoga can "kill two birds with one stone", by being both exercise and a great way to reduce stress.

The Grinch that stole Christmas: Stress

Speaking of stress, exercise is a great way to combat the grumpies. There is no doubt that exercise has fantastic psychological effects. That is why is it is often referred to as "a cheaper non-pharmacotherapeutic treatment".

If you are on medication for any condition, there are some easy tricks to ensure you don’t forget to take it, like setting reminders on your phone, putting up sticky notes on the front door or putting the meds somewhere visible.

It is not just situational stress that can lead to depression at this time of the year. Unfortunately, for those people who have lost loved ones or are going through difficult times, Christmas can remind us of painful memories. In these cases, it is even more important to ensure we maintain good habits so as not to start a cycle that can lead to a more severe depression.

Sometimes, even just swapping a beer for a brisk walk can snap us out of a mood, as well as being better for the waistline.

Even though there seems to be more reasons to stress out at Christmas, whether it be because we have arguments with family members, joint custody difficulties and financial concerns, there is always someone to talk to. This is really important, so whether it be a mate or a professional, don’t be scared to have a good chat or, if necessary, a good ol’ fashion whinge. It’s amazing how much better we can feel afterwards.

Stress gremlins affect everybody at this time, so remember, when you’re on the roads or in the shops, try to be extra patient. After all, it is Christmas.

Can I return this present? Weight gain

Even though you may have to wear Aunty Meg’s crazy, purple t-shirt when she visits at Christmas, you don’t have to wear around the extra kilos.

Of course, it’s much easier to not pick them up in the first place. It has been well documented that most people overindulge during the festive season, and therefore experience weight gain. Some studies show we can gain nearly five times more weight each week than we would at any other time of the year.

If you’ve got holidays from work, then it is the perfect time to ‘get your 30’. Just half an hour of medium exercise can prevent the unwanted present of the extra few kilos.

If you do wake up on Boxing Day with a new wobbly visitor around your waist, all is not lost. Just make sure you get back into a healthier routine as soon as possible and your wobbly guest will disappear.

The phrases "Merry Christmas Coronary" and "Happy New Year Heart Attack" were coined because researchers found there is, in fact, a rise in cardiac events during the Christmas and New Year period. So eating healthy is not just about looking good in your cozzies but also about saving your life.

As we have covered, reducing stress, weight gain and continuing even small amounts of exercise over the silly season will guard against becoming a Christmas Coronary statistic.

Avoid the booze blues

Phyllis Diller once said, "What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day." Don’t go overboard! You could regret it…

As Aussies, we know how to have a great time. According to statistics, we also know how to have too good a time.

Binge drinking and over indulging in alcohol can not only ruin your job but your health. It increases the risk of so many conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and, of course, liver disorders.

That’s not all; while we can have some laughs over a few of beers, no one is laughing if you then get behind the wheel. You may get caught – and that’s if you’re lucky, considering the statistics available on drink driving related fatalities.

So if you’re driving, stick to one drink per hour and don’t forget that a standard drink is not always equivalent to a serving of alcohol.

Find out more about alcohol equivalency servings here.

Even if you’re not drinking, sticking to four standard drinks in any one sitting at the most is recommended.

Your Christmas present

Give yourself moderation and relaxation as presents this year. Even if you only get socks from everyone else, you’ll still have good health and a clear head.

Festive health For more information on health during the festive season, including sleep, diet, exercise and stress, see Festive Health.
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Dates

Posted On: 21 December, 2009
Modified On: 28 August, 2014


Created by: myVMC