Festive tips to stay healthy, safe and sane at Christmas!

Date 18.12.2017

Last year the Adult Nursing team, all qualified nurses, offered their top tips to keep in mind and ensure you enjoy the festivities without a trip to A&E.

This year, Mental Health Nursing and Sport Science add their own suggestions into the mix.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sport Science

Tips for ‘taking charge’ of your health behaviour.

  • Just because a trip to the cinema can include nachos, coke, and a hot dog, this is not some kind of ‘package’ deal, where the calories do not count! Even excess calories eaten in the dark will find their way to the hips and waistline
  • Breaking a biscuit before eating it does not cause ‘calorie leakage’. A broken biscuit has as many calories as a whole one. Consume in moderation
  • Foods of the same colour do not ‘cancel each other out’. So, although sprouts might be good for you, eating pistachio ice-cream at the same time will only make the sprouts less vile. The calories still count!
  • ‘It’s OK; it’s Christmas!’ We often invent stories to ease our conscience. The thing is, the effects of our health behaviour are in no way mitigated by the festive season. So, whilst it good to indulge once in a while, it’s also important to keep track of your health habits. Habits that are harmful to our health goals are harder to break than they are to start
  • ‘Exercise is no good for weight loss’. Actually, it is! Keeping track is one of the best ways to manage your health. The reason why exercise is thought not to aid weight loss is because of ‘compensatory’ behaviour, i.e. we become overly optimistic about how much activity we’ve done, so we overeat. Keeping food and activity diaries are a simple and effective way of maintaining focus on goals and managing periods of over-consumption and under-activity.

Want to help others stay fit and healthy? Find out more about our Sport Science course and other Sport and Exercise courses.

Mental Health Nursing

Top 10 wellbeing tips for the holiday period.

  • Be Genuine – sometimes you can feel under pressure to attend a variety of festive activities, do what you want to do and don’t feel obliged to please everyone
  • Be Kind – the holiday period is not a positive time for everyone, take the time to be kind to others
  • Be Mindful – take time to stop and notice. We can get carried away with the pressures of daily life and not notice the little things around us
  • Be Balanced – it’s important to be aware of a balance of food and drink as it can be tempting to over indulge.  This can then have a negative impact on our wellbeing
  • Be Active – we can get so busy over the holiday period we can neglect exercise – it’s important to keep active even if it’s just taking the stairs rather than the lift
  • Be Reflective – it’s important to stop and reflect on what really matters to you; family and friends
  • Be in touch – it’s important to reach out to others, we can forget those around us and need to take the time to reconnect
  • Be Spontaneous –  we spend most of our time having to work to deadlines – find something new you want to do and do it
  • Be Rested- it’s important to ensure you maintain good sleep, it can be easy to burn the candle at both ends so take time to rest
  • Remember the holiday period may not always be as  you want it to be – if it doesn’t go to plan, don’t worry, tomorrows another day.

Want to join our MH Nursing team, too? Find out more about the course.

Adult Nursing

Think before you act! 

It is important to keep active and not become a well-rooted couch potato…

Racing around at Christmas, getting the house ready for the festivities, carrying large bags of shopping, moving furniture and all those other tasks we line up can all put a strain on your back and cause it to hurt or even cause a long term injury. Think twice before you lift a heavy load or move that heavy object. Maintain proper back posture, use your legs and bend them when lifting …and wait until someone else is there to help you move that table or lift that turkey! Don’t rush into hurting your back.

‘Tis the season to be jolly and many people look forward to well-earned rest and relaxation over the festive season. However, ’tis also important to keep active and not become a well-rooted couch potato. Getting out and about is important and not just to the nearest commercial centre to battle over bargains. Get out in the local parks or country side, breathe the air, stretch the joints and expand the lungs. Keeping active will improve a sense of well-being and why not start the New Year with a new resolution to improve fitness and exercise levels through 2018!

Try to get outside over the festive period, fresh air and exercise is good for both your physical and mental well-being. If you’re starting a new exercise regime, don’t overdo it. Slowly build the amount of exercise you do. If you can’t manage 30 minutes in one go, break it up into 10-minute chunks. If rain or ice is making exercise dangerous, do it another day. The weather might be better tomorrow, but an injury could take weeks to heal. How about a New Year’s resolution to keep this up?

Hugs without bugs

The cold virus loves company…

Christmas is a great time for being together with family and friends but also a great time for coughs colds and sneezes to spread. The cold virus loves company. Protect yourself and others by covering your nose and mouth and if you use a disposable tissue then throw away properly.  Around 80% of infectious diseases are spread by touch so washing your hands regularly, always after using the loo and before preparing or eating food will help you stay well. Wash your hands using soap and dry thoroughly.

Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water (warm or cold) and drying them before handling food, after handling raw food – including meat, fish, eggs and vegetables – and after touching the bin, going to the toilet, blowing your nose or touching animals (including pets) is the best way to avoid being unwell over the Christmas period.

Reach out at Christmas 

Look out for neighbours, elderly or otherwise…

Although it only lasts for a few days, Christmas can seem a long and lonely time for those who don’t have family or friends around them and unfortunately many elderly people spend Christmas day alone. Look out for neighbours, elderly or otherwise who might be isolated or vulnerable; perhaps you are able to pop in, or give them a lift to spend the day with a friend- or perhaps there is a space for one more at your Christmas table!

image photo adult nursing team

Part of the Adult Nursing subject team at University of Northampton: Patricia Jeremiah, Cindy O’Dell and Julia Nicholls.

Cindy O’Dell, Senior Lecturer in Nursing at the University of Northampton, summed up what she has learned about enjoying Christmas from her time on the wards: As a cardiac nurse Christmas was often one of the busiest times of the year. Preparing food buying presents and being with or without family can be very challenging for all of us but if you have had a heart condition then it can bring extra pressures. So make sure you have enough of your prescribed medication. Eat and drink healthily, enjoy the company of others and if you have to spend time with people who irritate you try and see the positive side to their personalities.

Donna Bray, Subject Lead for Nursing at University of Northampton, added: Please remember that your physical and emotional health are linked so:

  • Sing it out
  • Hug it out
  • Share your highs and lows

There is no shame in loneliness, it’s not always about being alone it’s about feeling alone. Christmas can be a tough time so sharing and forgiveness can help keep us and those around us well.

Find out more about the Adult Nursing course at University of Northampton on our website.