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8 Not-So-Jolly Health Risks of the Holiday Season

Tag: holidays

8 Not-So-Jolly Health Risks of the Holiday Season

It’s that time again! The holiday spirit is upon us, and you know what that means…more food, more family, more friends, more trips, and (hopefully) less stress.

While all of this sounds great, it also creates the perfect storm for some subtle yet chronic health risks to creep into our lives.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that sicknesses are rampant this time of year. Don’t be another statistic, and try to watch out for these eight not-so-jolly health risks that come with the holidays.


1. Foodborne illness

While we all know that foodborne illness is a risk year-round, it’s especially dangerous and prevalent during the holidays. This is because more people are around, and more food is being served at parties, dinners, and other events.

Preparing food to suit the whole family and a few friends and relatives can be risky if your kitchen is not designed to cook for a lot of people. Plus, guests often bring food to share. Non-perishable items like cakes aren’t the problem, but foods like desserts and casseroles that need careful preparation and storage.

Prevention tips:

  • Make sure to keep food at regulated temperatures.
  • Wash your hands often when preparing food.
  • Wash your cutting boards, knives, and utensils in between preparing different foods to avoid cross-contamination.


2. Slips and falls

During the Christmas season, you may be running around to get everything done or have extra people in your home. This can increase the risk of someone slipping and falling. As the weather gets colder, people are also more likely to walk on icy surfaces or wet patches.

Prevention tips:

  • Wear appropriate footwear like boots or sneakers when walking outside in winter weather conditions.
  • Make sure your home has adequate lighting in all rooms and hallways.
  • Put away any decorations that are likely to catch your feet or make you trip.


3. Winter blues

You know that feeling when you’re trying to get into the holiday spirit, but you just can’t? It could be winter blues. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter blues, is a form of depression triggered by the changing seasons—and is most commonly experienced in fall and winter.

During the holidays, the combination of seasonal depression, stress from gift shopping and family gatherings, and a lack of sunlight can make us feel sad, anxious, or just plain blue—making us more at risk.

Prevention tips:

  • Get as much sunlight as possible.
  • Stay in touch with family and friends.
  • Keep yourself warm.


4. Travel mishaps

With all the traveling that people do, it’s easy to make mistakes or get stuck in a jam. And it’s not just because of the crowds—it’s also because of the weather. Cold weather and snow can cause accidents, delays, and other problems that can throw off your holiday travel plans.

Prevention tips:

  • Make sure your car is in good shape before leaving.
  • Do your research and know where exactly you’re going and what time you need to be there.
  • Bring a travel buddy.


5. Heart attacks

Research found that deaths from heart attacks increase by up to 4.2% during the Christmas period. This is primarily due to the high-stress levels that people experience during this time of year, which makes them more prone to panic attacks and anxiety. Not to mention the delay in medical care services during the month. Of course, there’s also that extra glass of wine or mince pie or whatever you’re enjoying over Christmas!

Prevention tips:

  • Try not to stress too much.
  • Set aside time each day for exercise.
  • Don’t overindulge, but also make sure to eat meals.


6. Decorating hazards

Decorating your home for Christmas is such a fun tradition! It’s always exciting to see what you can come up with to make your house feel festive. But there are some hazards that you should be aware of when it comes to decorating your home, especially if you have children or pets.

Prevention tips:

  • Avoid using light strings with bare wires, and keep them away from pets or small children.
  • If you’re hanging lights outside, ensure they’re weatherproof and won’t cause any damage if they fall off the house or tree.
  • Be careful when using ladders or other equipment to hang decorations.


7. Cold or flu

It’s not uncommon to get sick during the holiday season. In fact, it’s common enough that the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) even has a name for it: “holiday sickness.” But have you ever wondered why we get sick during the holidays?

The answer is simple: our bodies are working overtime trying to keep up with all the hustle and bustle of the season—the parties, the gifts, the travel—and they get exhausted. Then when we’re sleeping less than usual (or drinking more!), our immune systems are more vulnerable to illness. Combine that with spending time around lots of other people who may be sick, and it’s easy for us to catch something ourselves!

In addition, winter weather can make people more susceptible to illness because of dry air, which dries out your nose and throat and makes it easier for germs to spread.

Prevention tips:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Don’t share utensils (use separate spoons and forks).
  • Use hand sanitizer often, especially after using public restrooms.


8. Choking

Choking is something that happens all too often during the holidays. Why? Well, it could be because so many people are eating and drinking at once or because they’re overdoing it with sweets. But whatever the reason, we don’t want anyone to go home from Christmas dinner with a sore throat—or worse.

Prevention tips:

  • Chew your food thoroughly before swallowing.
  • Cut up all fruit and vegetables before serving them to children.
  • Minimize distractions while eating.




The holiday season is indeed the most wonderful time of the year. But it can also be a minefield of health risks.

In the end, try to put your health first without missing all the fun of the season. Be aware of the risks and take simple steps to minimize them. If you find yourself overwhelmed, it may be time to take a step back for some downtime.

Explore our website for more health tips, or contact us today for a merrier and healthier month of December.

At Hearty Health, we serve high-quality meals all year round.