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How do you stay healthy at Christmas?

Lifestyle — Posted 10/12/13

Tips for taking care of ourselves and others while spreading the holiday cheer.

The festive season is all about celebrating the good times of the past year and spending time with family and friends – but often the holiday cheer comes with a few health challenges.

New research* from the Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line highlights a few of the top health concerns for Australians over the Christmas period – with weight gain and symptoms of food poisoning at the top of the list.

“Common problems at this time of the year can include sunstroke and sunburn as well as injuries from new presents, stings and bites and stress,” says Dr Kate McConnon, National Medical Director of Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line.

“Mental health can also be a significantly concern for some people, both for those trying to juggle busy family arrangements and relationships, to the other end of the scale of those feeling dislocated or lonely.”

We took to the streets of Melbourne’s CBD to find out how people spread good cheer at Christmas, how they stay healthy and how they use the holiday period to unwind. The responses give some great suggestions for small ways we can be healthier and take care of ourselves this Christmas.

Whether it’s trying not to indulge in too many of the delicious treats around or remembering to put on sunscreen and drink water when you’re out being active in the sunshine, it’s always important to put your health first and be kind to your mind and body.

Here are five more tips from the Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line nurses on how to stay healthy during the silly season…

1. Keep your belly happy. Gastro issues are common around Christmas, so it’s important to be vigilant about food preparation. Always remember to cook things thoroughly and be careful not to leave things out in the heat of the sun. If symptoms become severe, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice. It is also not uncommon to eat too much at Christmas and it can often cause discomfort and indigestion. Try to avoid overeating and mixing too many rich foods.

2. Be careful with new Christmas presents. There is an increase in kids’ (and big kids’!) play-related injuries at this time of year. Remember to take care and wear safety gear such as bike helmets where appropriate.

3. Reduce stress. Organising Christmas with lots of people, extended family and increased drinking can often lead to undue pressure and tensions. Try to relax where possible and enjoy the day. Many other people may also be alone this Christmas and call for emotional support, so if you know of anyone who’s lonely, maybe pay a visit and say hello.

4. Be sun smart .Always wear high SPF sunscreen and cover up in the midday sun. Even if it is cloudy, strong UV can still get through. It’s also important to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Sunburn or sunstroke cannot only ruin a holiday, but can cause long-term health risks.

5. Banish stings, bites and allergies. With an increase in outside activities such as playing in the garden or swimming in the sea, there’s a greater risk of stings and bites during the holidays. Keep antiseptic cream handy and seek immediate medical advice for any serious instances. Remain aware of any allergies and be sure to take medication on Christmas trips.

If you are experiencing any significant health issues during this time of year, it’s important to reach out to a medical professional for advice. Medibank members with hospital cover can call qualified nurses on the Health Advice Line at any time of the day or night - 1800 644 325

*Research conducted by Galaxy Research for the Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line on 19-24 April 2013 on a sample of 1,061 Australians across the country.

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