Why do people finish Christmas feeling ill?
If it doesn’t affect yourself you’ll probably have one friend or relative who it does. As soon as Christmas Day or Boxing Day are over they come down with a bug – normally an awful cold or upset stomach. But why would that be?
One of the major reasons for this is the fact that we tend to be in much closer contact, and with more people. You might have guests staying, or be visiting someone else’s house, and a warm home can be welcoming environment for viruses too. And when we’re out, in shops or bars, we’re exposed to bigger crowds and jostled much more than normal.
It’s not just viruses and infections. Stomach problems can be down to badly prepared or cooked food (remember, medium rare isn’t a great choice for poultry). They can also be down to rapid and sizeable changes in diet. For instance too many dates, and the spike in sugar and fibre, can easily result in abdominal pain and bloating.
Finally, the more stressed we are the more cortisol our bodies produce. This lowers our resistance to infection and illness. Pre-Christmas can motivate us to carry on, and when this decreases we can give ourselves permission to feel ill. Coupled with the fact that it can take 72 hours for a cold or bug to make itself known, and you have the perfect circumstances to catch an illness while you’re stressed and it only show when the stress has abated.
What can people do to stop finishing Christmas feeling ill?
Taking sensible precautions is the key to making sure that you don’t end Christmas feeling ill.
- Make sure that food is properly stored, defrosted and cooked.
- Enjoy yourself, but don’t let your diet become distorted for days on end – make sure that you continue to eat healthily.
- If someone is coughing or sneezing don’t hug or kiss them.
- Make sure that you wash your hands when you’re anywhere where you could pick up bugs or germs – especially in shared public spaces.
- Consider having a flu vaccination, especially if you’re in an at-risk group.
- Try and manage your stress in the lead up to Christmas – aim for “Happy, not perfect” – and boost your immune system.