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Seeing Christmas decorations up in the shops, I thought I’d take the liberty of talking about looking after ourselves during the upcoming busy and social time of the year.

For some reason in New Zealand, there is a huge ‘cut off’ time at Christmas, as if it has come as a surprise to us and everything has to be done before it arrives. How often do we hear “Can you do this before Christmas?” I am not sure why each year there is such a stress on this when we all know that Christmas will arrive at the same time as it always does each and every year. But it happens. And that leads me on to not arriving at Christmas Day like a zombie.

To enjoy and maximise the best parts of the silly season we need to be aware of and manage our fatigue levels. Managing tiredness not only helps us to keep productive, but also safe – especially in high-risk industries. When we are exhausted from long working hours and equally long partying hours, the fuel we feed our body becomes even more important. Keeping ourselves alert (being the opposite of fatigued) involves some simple awareness and management of our eating, drinking and also sleeping habits.

So what simple areas can we focus on to ensure we all get to Christmas Day safely and energised?

Avoid processed carbohydrates – items such as chips, white bread, muffins and sweets will give you a short-lived spike in blood sugar and leave you wanting more, so it’s far easier to have no potato chips at all than to try to stop after the initial one.

Fruit and veggies  yes this means opting for the carrot sticks with hummus dip and not the samosas and mince savouries for the reason above.

Choose proteins  these will help you to feel full for longer so meat, chicken, eggs and nuts are good options too. Those chicken wings in moderation are a good protein option.

Watch the grog – many a career has been damaged by drinking too much at a work Christmas party and saying or doing something inappropriate. Remember it is a workparty. If the alcohol is flowing freely, a glass of water between each drink could be the difference between a promotion next year and scanning Seek for a new position. Don’t give yourself the added stress.

Avoid the sugary and energy drinks – water will be so much better, not to mention cheaper. Keeping that water bottle handy to keep yourself hydrated will be extremely useful in keeping you alert.

Another component of ensuring our alertness is getting enough good-quality sleep.

We have three sleep stages: REM (rapid eye movement), light and deep.

Our body goes through these three stages throughout the night. We tend to go through the REM part later in the night and it is important for our memory and moods. The light sleep is the most common stage and it promotes mental and physical restoration. The deep sleep is what makes us feel refreshed each day. All three parts are vital to our wellbeing.

Getting good-quality sleep can be difficult at the best of times but when we add in long work hours building up to Christmas, more snacking on processed foods, more alcohol as well as late nights attending parties, the lack of good-quality sleep can be a serious risk factor to our safety and to our health.

In your next staff briefing, it’s worth raising the ideas above so everyone within your team can benefit. And remember, if you need extra help, feel free to give me a call. Before Christmas of course.

Take care out there!

Janet Brothers

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