The festive period can take its toll on your health. Here’s how to be prepared, from head to toe

Champagne cork

Did you know a cork in the eye is a Christmas health hazard? ©iStock

Your Eyes

  • Champagne corks are the most likely cause of seasonal eye injuries, so make sure bubbly is properly chilled, as warm bottle corks are more likely to pop unexpectedly. And point the bottle away from you – and others – at a 45-degree angle.
  • Drink lots of water. ‘Alcohol dehydrates and slows our blink rate, causing dry eyes,’ warns Julian Stevens, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital. ‘Drinking too much can also mean we sleep with our eyes slightly open, causing dry, red and sore eyes.’
  • Running late for a party? Don’t apply make-up in the car. Scratching the eye with a mascara wand is the most common make-up injury and can lead to eye infections.
  • Try an eye workout to help reduce goggle-box strain. Imagine a giant figure of eight about 10 feet away. Now turn the eight on its side and trace its shape with your eyes, slowly. Do it one way for two minutes, then the other, for two more.

Your Mouth

  • Use a lip balm. In harsh winter weathers, the chances of cracked, sore lips increases.
  • Be careful who you kiss under the mistletoe – it’s the most common way of passing on cold sores. If you’re prone to them, Liquorice & Melissa Lip Gel (£7.95, can prevent them developing.
  • Christmas ulcer? Iglü Rapid Relief Gel (£6.35, Boots) ‘sticks’ over the ulcer to protect it from further irritation and speed up the healing process.
  • Ease bad breath with odour-neutralising gum, such as CB12 Boost (£4.99, Boots).

Your Nose

  • Christmas cold? Try this remedy to relieve sinus pressure. Alternate pushing your tongue against the roof of your mouth, then pressing between your eyebrows with one finger. This causes the vomer bone, which runs through the nasal passages to the mouth, to rock back and forth, loosening congestion.

Your Brain

  • To get over a hangover, take painkillers with flat lemonade or non-fizzy isotonic drinks to replace lost salts and sugars.
  • Get up at the same time every day, advises Dr Guy Meadows, founder of The Sleep School. ‘This prevents your body clock being delayed, promoting better sleep the next night.’

Your Hands

  • Wear gloves outside to avoid Raynaud’s, a painful condition that makes fingers go white in cold weather.
  • Use oven gloves – not a tea towel – to take the turkey out of the oven. This is a major cause of festive burns, warns The Royal Society For The Prevention of Accidents.

Your Legs & Feet

  • Ditch painful footwear. A third of women buy shoes they know don’t fit and 80% have foot problems. Go shoe shopping in the afternoon for the best fit. Feet swell by as much as a size during the day. Save heels for the actual party and travel there and back in flats.
  • Aching party feet? Try these simple exercises from Michael Ratcliffe, podiatrist at Carnation Footcare. ‘Splay your toes out as far as you can five times. Then, grip a pencil with your toes and lift it off the floor five times. Now, stand and gently raise up on tiptoes (to the count of four), and lower back down (to the count of four). Repeat 10 times. Finally, sit on the ground with your legs stretched out in front of you, pull your feet back towards you until you feel a stretch, hold for 15 seconds and release. Repeat five times.

Your Liver

  • Research has found that the average British family will have their first alcoholic drink on Christmas Day at 9.05am!
  • Choose drinks wisely. ‘Dark drinks contain more chemical by-products called congeners, which make you more likely to get a hangover,’ says Rob Hobson, Head of Nutrition at Healthspan. ‘Try to drink water in between, or alongside, alcoholic drinks.’
  • Try organic wine, advises nutritionist Patrick Holford. Many wines contain residues of pesticides and although they may not be considered ‘toxic’ in small amounts, your liver still has to metabolise them. Try for a great selection of organic wines.

Your Skin

  • Moisturise. Creams are heavier than lotions and work better in colder months to hydrate skin. Apply after a shower or bath, while skin is damp, to lock in moisture.
  • No matter how tired you are, don’t go to sleep in your make-up. It’ll block pores – causing spots – and irritate the skin, says Dr Nick Lowe, Consultant Dermatologist at Cranley Clinic, London.
  • Beware of costume jewellery containing nickel – it’s the number-one cause of contact dermatitis, which leaves skin red and itchy.
  • Also spray perfume on to clothes to prevent skin irritation.

Your Immune System

  • Typically, coughs and colds peak the week following Christmas. Try Vicks First Defence (£6.49, Boots) at the first sign of a sniffle. It changes the PH in the nose, making it a more hostile environment for cold viruses and, if taken early enough, can prevent a full-blown cold developing.
  • In a recent study, those taking A Vogel Echinaforce Echinacea Tablets (£4.75 for 42, Boots) experienced a 63% reduction in cold and flu symptoms, compared to 29% in the placebo group.
  • Enjoy mulled wine. Those who drank a daily glass of red wine had a 40% lower risk of getting a cold than teetotallers, found scientists. It’s thought the flavonoids (antioxidants) work against nasal viruses.

Your Back

  • When Christmas shopping, distribute the weight of bags evenly between both hands and make a few off-loading trips back to the car, advises Tim Hutchful of the British Chiropractic Association.
  • Online shopping can also harm your back if you spend hours hunched over a computer, he adds. Avoid sitting on the sofa with a laptop or tablet and take regular breaks so you can move around.

Your Stomach

  • Avoid tummy troubles by eating slowly and chewing carefully, advises nutritional therapist, Natalie Lamb. And taking a probiotic supplement such as Bio-Kult (£9.49 for 30 capsules, Boots) can help your gut produce digestive enzymes that aid the final stages of your food being broken down.
  • Don’t wear tight clothing if you’re prone to indigestion.
  • ‘Risk of food poisoning rises over Christmas because people cook food that they don’t usually – and for larger numbers,’ says Rob Hobson. ‘Always put raw meat at the bottom of the fridge so the juices can’t drip down, contaminating cooked food.’
  • Allow time to defrost your turkey – large ones can take a couple of days. Make sure it’s cooked through and throw away leftovers after two days unless you decide to freeze them.
Christmas party shoes

We reveal how to keep your body in check for Christmas ©iStock