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Christmas calamities

It’s that time of year again: chestnuts are roasting on an open fire, halls are decked with boughs of holly, and everyone’s rockin’ around the Christmas tree….

As idyllic as this sounds, sometimes the holiday season just doesn’t live up to its expectations of joy, peace, and goodwill. According to the UK’s NHS, over 80,000 people a year need hospital treatment during the festive period. Pause 12 days of Christmas – here are seven Christmas health calamities to be aware of.

1) Stress
The pressure to impress has the potential to send your otherwise calm self into a sherry-fueled frenzy. Money troubles, family feuds, gift idea woes – all contribute to the lack of an ideal steady state for all physiological processes. The result can be stress, the state we find ourselves in when this ideal is threatened. Symptoms can include palpitations, irritability, difficulty sleeping and concentrating, and fear of losing control.

2) Nightmares on Oxford Street
Over-crowded shops, over-crowded streets, over or under-stacked shelves, Black Friday… It might not only be the prices of presents that are being slashed. Keep your distance from savage shoppers to prevent bruising.

3) Electrical shocks
Putting up fairy lights? Implement safe practice when testing these pretty additions to your tree to avoid common injuries including burns and negative effects on your heart and muscles.

Incandescent by Steve Jurvetson. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

4) Lack of sleep
All of your shopping and decorating is done, and now it’s time to sit back and wait for the jolly old man in the red suit to drop by. Tradition says you should be asleep when he visits. Easier said than done. The excitement can be too much, and that teamed with the stress of festive preparations can mean you have difficulty falling asleep. “If mentally, emotionally, or physically arousing activities take place near our expected sleeping time, then the time to fall asleep will be longer than usual” – according to Dr Sue Wilson and Professor David J. Nutt. Not to mention that glass or two of port you’ve had after dinner: Sleep processes are controlled by a wide range of neurotransmitters and brain receptors, so any drug that affects these transmitters and receptors can alter your sleep pattern.

5) Alcohol misuse
Alcohol can do more than just affect our sleep. Alcohol misuse comprises a substantial amount of the accident and emergency department cases in the western world. Being aware of the limits and mindful of symptoms of alcohol abuse can ensure a merry, A&E-free Christmas.

6) Over-eating
It can be hard not to over-indulge – and although we might feel like we have a distinct lack of willpower as we reach for our fifth minced pie – there is actually a science behind our cravings. Some researchers argue that environmental factors including colours, food packaging, smells, and socializing can influence and determine our eating behaviours more so than basic hunger cues. Why? Because such environmental factors help us to suggest alternative reasons for consuming food. So don’t feel too bad about that second helping of Christmas pudding.

7) Choking
Beware of that turkey wishbone, and know how to respond to this emergency.

Above all, enjoy a happy and healthy holiday period.

Featured image credit: Christmas Market by Gellinger. CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay.

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