Tips for a healthy festive season

18 Dec 2014

 Health experts from Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) share their tips for staying healthy this holiday period.

Mental Health Message

Keeping the festive season affordable and family-friendly will help make it stress-free, said director of WSLHD Mental Health Services, Dr Senthil Muthuswamy.

“Sometimes the financial and emotional pressures experienced by families during the holiday period cause stress, depression and anxiety,” he said.

“There are several ways to minimise costs including using a debit card instead of credit, being creative and making gifts, or organising a Kris Kringle with your friends and family so you only have to buy a present for one person,” Dr Muthuswamy said.

“You could do some charity or volunteer work and give something back to the community.”

Dr Muthuswamy’s tips to reduce stress and worry during the festive season include:

  • Budget your expenses so you don’t have a big debt to repay in 2015
  • Prepare and share the cooking, or ask each family member to bring a plate
  • Make sure you get eight hours sleep
  • Drink in moderation
  • Don’t leave your shopping until the last minute as this can increase stress
  • Have fun, relax and enjoy quality time with family and friends

For assistance or information about depression, talk to your GP or contact beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or email

Eat, drink and be merry! 

WSLHD’s director of Population Health Dr Stephen Corbett said the holiday period brings opportunities to eat, drink and have fun with your family and friends but it’s important to remember moderation and good hygiene remain essential to preventing sickness.

“Some of the common festive season hazards include food poisoning, alcohol abuse, high stress levels, falls, motor vehicle accidents and heat exhaustion,” he said.

To help you have a stress-free holiday I encourage everyone to consider the following:

Nutrition and food safety:

  • Be vigilant with food handling by making sure food is not left out in the heat and to keep left overs for a few days only.
  • Minimise salty or high-fat party foods including chips or fried savouries as this will do your waist-line and heart a favour
  • Choose low-fat and low-salt snacks, and ensure salads or vegetables accompany lean meats or non-fried fish as a main
  • Don’t thaw frozen food on the bench – use a clean refrigerator or microwave
  • Do not overstock your fridge as good airflow around food is essential

General safety and falls prevention:

  • The festive season can often be a high-risk period for falls. Most occur in and around the home and many are preventable.
  • Ensure you tidy up after playtime and avoid leaving small toys and other items lying around that can result in slips and falls
  • Purchase the accompanying safety equipment such as helmets and joint padding when buying children bicycles, scooters and skateboards
  • Keep a watchful eye on children, particularly around water

Alcohol safety:

Don’t drink excessively; choose water or a non-alcoholic beverage to stay hydrated. Don’t let your friends or family drive drunk and don’t drink on an empty stomach.

Travel safe:

  • Ensure you are up-to-date with your vaccinations (including measles, hepatitis A and typhoid)
  • If traveling long distances, drive carefully, take breaks at least every two hours

For more information about vaccinations, visit

Water activities:

  • Don’t swim if you have diarrhoea or have suffered from diarrhoea within the past week
  • Don’t swallow pool water, try not to let water into your mouth, and don’t allow pets in the pool
  • Take children on regular bathroom breaks and ensure toddlers wear tight-fitting waterproof pants

Beat the heat:

  • Slip, slop, slap … and sip plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty, to avoid dehydration
  • Limit the time spent outdoors when air pollution is poor or humidity is high.

Fight the bite:

Mosquitoes are more than a nuisance; they are a major threat to public health. Wear a mosquito repellent that contains diethyltoluamide (such as DEET) or picaridin, or avoid areas where mosquitoes are common.