Holiday wellness: Tips to stay safe this season 

The winter holidays are a time for family, friends and cheer, but for many of us the season also delivers added emotional stress and holiday hazards. Whether you cherish this time or merely endure the countless parties until the New Year begins, Island Health has some tips that can help you make the most of the season while taking care of your mental and physical health. 

“People who consciously slow down during this busy season are going to be happier, safer and healthier,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Chief Medical Health Officer, Island Health. “If you're in a constant bustle or overconsuming alcohol or drugs, you're not going to enjoy yourself, and you're also going to be at greater risk of injury and illness.”

  1. Take precautions to stay healthy and avoid seasonal bugs. In addition to getting the flu shot and staying up-to-date on your immunizations, you can take steps to protect yourself and others, such as regular hand-washing, coughing or sneezing into your sleeve and staying home when you are sick. 
  2. Pace yourself if you plan to use alcohol or cannabis. Arrange a safe ride home and stick to Canadian alcohol guidelines – no more than 2 drinks a day (10 per week) for women, 3 drinks a day (15 per week) for men. Canadian guidelines suggest safer ways to consume cannabis – avoid inhaling smoke deeply or holding your breath and go slow with edibles. For help with substance use, call the 24-hour BC Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service toll-free at 1-800-663-1441. 
  3. Make a strategy for choosing healthy foods at holiday parties. Plan to fill up most of your plate with fruits and vegetables and don’t arrive hungry. Most importantly, slow down, savour the food and enjoy the company. 
  4. Stay active during the holidays. Take some time during the holidays to be active. Enjoying a walk or other physical activities can also help to maintain wellness during the holidays. Being active with friends or family can be a great way to spend time together.
  5. Safety-proof your holiday décor. Make sure you have a working smoke detector to prevent household fires. Try battery-operated flameless candles instead of burning wax ones. If you bring trees and boughs into your home, keep them away from heat sources and open flames, and water trees regularly.

If you lost someone close recently, or experienced a physical or mental illness, the holidays may be difficult for you. Take care of yourself and remember that you are not alone. If you experience a crisis, call the Vancouver Island Crisis Line 24/7 at 1-888-494-3888 or the KUU-US Crisis Line for Indigenous people at 1-800-588-8717.

Check out Island Health magazine for more tips on handling the holidays.

Central/North Island media inquiries:
Dominic Abassi

Cowichan/South Island media inquiries:
Cheryl Bloxham