The Zimbabwe Independent

Stay safe, healthy during the festive season


AS the holiday season is fast approachin­g, it is important to make your health and safety a priority by taking the necessary steps to keep you and your family safe and healthy while you enjoy the festivitie­s.

Some people view the holiday season as an open invitation to do whatever they please. Instead, this year which has been a tough one for many not only in Zimbabwe but across the world, consider it an invitation to be good to your mental and physical health.

Although food is an integral part of the holidays, you can also consider focusing on family, friends and laughter.

e Covid-19 pandemic is still with us. Be careful not to let your Christmas festivitie­s become Covid-19 super-spreader events by forgetting to take the recommende­d precaution­s.

In many countries there are fears that, as families get together over Christmas, they could be bringing the dreaded virus into their homes. Remember that most people carrying the virus show no symptoms of ill health but can pass the virus onto others who may not be so fortunate and may become seriously ill and even die from the virus.

You can minimise the risk of catching the virus by maintainin­g social distancing, avoiding handshakin­g or hugging, washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and running water and having as much of your festivitie­s as possible outside rather than indoors, the weather permitting.

Wearing masks has been shown to offer mutual protection and minimise the risk of the virus spreading. It may not be practical to wear a mask in your own home with members of your own family, even though it might be wise to do so if you are entertaini­ng family members who are not members of your household or going to another family member’s home.

Social distancing should be practised neverthele­ss, keeping as far as possible two metres between you and the next person.

Every Christmas holiday there are numerous road accidents and deaths on the road. Zimbabwe has recently witnessed several fatal alcohol related road accidents that could have been avoided.

Choose not to drink and drive and help others do the same. If you go to a party or any event with alcohol, have a designated driver who will not be imbibing. Whenever anyone drives under the influence of alcohol or drunk, they put everyone on the road in danger. Wear your seatbelt while driving or even if you are a passenger in the vehicle. Make it a point to wear your seatbelt no matter how short the journey may be and insist on your passengers doing the same. Always buckle your children in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat or seatbelt according to their height, weight and age.

Christmas time falls during the rainy season in Zimbabwe so make sure you wear the appropriat­e clothing for rainy weather. Make sure the kids are dressed appropriat­ely too.

Something that is often ignored is stress. Manage your stress levels. Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out, overwhelme­d, and unable to cope. Some of the best ways to manage stress are to find support, connect socially and get plenty of rest and sleep. Make sure you have a good amount of rest, especially if you are going to be travelling.

Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Smokers have greater health risks because of their tobacco use. Non-smokers are also at risk when exposed to tobacco smoke. Monitor your children and any young ones around you. Keep potentiall­y dangerous toys, food, drinks, household items and other objects out of children’s reach.

Make sure that the toys they play with are age appropriat­e as well. Protect them from drowning, burns, falls and any other potential accidents.

Prepare food safely. Wash your hands frequently especially before and after preparing food. Wash surfaces frequently. Avoid any chances of cross-contaminat­ion. Cook all your food well and refrigerat­e foods as soon as they are no longer needed.

Eat healthily and stay active. Eat fruits and vegetables which pack nutrients and help lower the risk for certain diseases. Limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

You do not need to deprive yourself of the food you like or take your treats with a guilty conscience. Instead, by moderating how much you eat you can come through the holidays without seriously altering your diet.

Avoid eating everything at meals and parties. Many have run out of space on their plate when dishing for themselves especially at a buffet. Try to be choosy and spend calories sensibly on the foods you love.

Take a 10-minute break before going for seconds. It takes a few minutes for your stomach to send a signal to your brain that it is becoming full. Make conversati­on, drink some water then recheck your appetite. You might realise you are full or want only a small portion of seconds.

Do not go out on an empty stomach. Eat something before setting out for a party so you do not reach the venue feeling hungry. Likewise, avoid going shopping when you are hungry. Eat before you go shopping so the scent of food does not tempt you to buy unnecessar­y junk food.

Practise healthy cooking. Use recipes that require less oil, butter, cream, and other ingredient­s rich in saturated fats. Cook more white meat such as chicken, turkey, or fish instead of red meat.

Make room for vegetables with every meal. Fruits and vegetables make great snacks and, in some cases, even better sides or main dishes.

Wear your walking shoes whenever you go out. Walking and dancing are great ways to work off some holiday calories. If you are at a family gathering, suggest a walk.

Make sure you are active for at least two and a half hours a week and make an effort to help your children and teenagers be active for at least an hour every day.

Enjoy your Christmas, while taking the necessary precaution­s to remain safe and healthy.

e informatio­n in this article is provided as a public service by the Cimas iGo Wellness programme, which is designed to promote good health. It is provided for general informatio­n only and should not be construed as medical advice. Readers should consult their doctor or clinic on any matter related to their health or the treatment of any health problem. — or WhatsApp 0772 161 829 or phone 024-2773 0663.

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