Health at Christmas

Self care during the festive season – knowing your limits

The festive season is a great time to have some fun with friends and family, but it can be easy to go overboard. They say that everything should come in moderation, and looking after your health at Christmas is especially important to ensure a happy holiday. Here’s a guide on how to stay safe during the festive season.

Alcohol and health at Christmas


Most people like to have a drink around Christmas, and with work parties as well as multiple social events on the horizon – it’s easy to let your alcohol consumption spike over the festive season. Though you might not think so, this can have a serious impact on your health, and it’s important that you take precautions and get to know your legal limits.

The legal alcohol limit for drivers is:

80 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of blood in your body
35 micrograms of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of breath
107 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of urine

It can be difficult to work out how much you’re able to drink to stay within the safe limit. It can vary depending on your gender, your age and your weight. Most advice says you should avoid drinking altogether if you’re not sure, and you should check the unit value of alcohol before you order at the bar.

Drink driving not only puts you at risk of an accident but others too. By choosing to leave your car at home or being the designated sober driver, you can avoid putting yourself and others at danger during the festive period.

Calories in alcohol

Driving isn’t the only concern you need to have when it comes to alcohol and Christmas. The calories in alcohol can be higher than you might think, contributing to Christmas weight gain and leading to further health problems. Drink Aware have a great alcohol calculator that can tell you how many calories are in a unit to help you limit your intake and keep the weight off. Instead of drinking in rounds and purchasing multiple drinks, try alternating your drink with a soft drink or some water to limit your calorie intake.

Alcohol and warmth

There’s a common belief that alcohol ‘warms you up,’ but this can be deceptive. Alcohol allows blood and heat to flow to your blood vessels, but what this is actually doing is drawing heat away from your body’s core – which is where your organs are. So even though your skin feels warm, you could end up putting yourself at risk of hypothermia and other dangers by venturing into the cold without the right clothing.

Avoid the dangers by dressing appropriately for the weather (even if you feel warm), planning your route home in advance and making sure that you travel with others to help you stay safe.

Looking after your health at Christmas

It’s important that you look after your health during the festive period, as nobody wants to suffer from illness and poor health at Christmas. There are many things you can do to take care of yourself over Christmas and into January too, including:

  • Adopting a good sleeping pattern. While it may be difficult in winter, you should aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even when the mornings are dark. Getting outside during daylight will help keep you energised and combat any feelings of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
  • Keep exercising. Exercise is important for keeping you healthy, but it will also help you combat the Christmas bloat. Keep walking as much as possible and stick to your recommended exercise guidelines to help you stay in shape this winter.
  • Eat more fruit and vegetables. More than ever your body needs the vitamins and nutrients contained in fruit and veg, so try increasing your daily intake. Soups and stews are a good way to make sure you consume enough vegetables, while morning smoothies or adding fruit to porridge and cereal can help you get a morning fix.
  • Keep warm. It’s important that you stay warm during the winter period. Wear multiple layers, use your home’s heating and if you care for elderly relatives, check that their homes are heated appropriately too.

By taking the right precautions and using some common sense, you can look forward to a safe and healthy Christmas period. Take extra care of your health at Christmas and remember that our out of hours services in East Berkshire are available throughout the festive period if you need to see a doctor when your usual surgery is closed.