The festive season is here. It is time to be jolly while reminiscing on how the year has unfolded. Past records show that this is also the time when you are likely to get hurt in an accident, fall sick or sink into depression unless you take the necessary precautions.
Mercy Adhiambo spoke to experts from different fields and lists some of the tips they gave that can help us make it to 2020 in good health.
Return to the basics of staying healthy:
If you are going to travel to malaria endemic areas such as Western, Nyanza and Coast, make sure you take antimalarial drugs.
Dr Thomas Mutie of Kenyatta National Hospital advises that one should not forget the basics like sleeping under mosquito nets.
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“It is easy to ignore if it is something you do not do every day. The consequences of ignoring the basics of health are serious and can lead to death,” he says.
He adds that the festive season is also the time that doctors record increased cases of food poisoning.
Dr Mutie attributes this to mass preparation of food and poor handling and advises people to interrogate the source of food before eating.
Doctors also advise people to use protection when engaging in sex.
Resist temptation to chronicle your activities on social media:
It might be tempting to broadcast your every move on social media and let the whole world know that you are having fun away from home.
The “You Only Live Once, (YOLO)” philosophy drives many people to share live videos of what is happening in their lives.
This can however put your life in danger when rogue people track your moves and waylay you. If you want to immortalise your fun moments, you can set up a private account and adjust your settings so only family and close friends can view your activities.
Go slow on the spending:
Your colleagues at work could be talking about the elaborate “mbuzi choma” plans that they are organising, or it could be the many offers and fliers about reduced prices that seem too good to pass.
Personal Finance advisor Wahome Ngari who is CEO at Personal Finance Academy advices that before spending during the festive season, you should first ensure that all your essential bills such as rent and school fees are paid and avoid any other obligations that might push you into debt.
“This is the time when people are likely to be influenced by peer pressure and then get stressed when the reality of January hits,” he says.
He says getting into debt can lead to depression and destabilise personal plans as people try to get out of the debt hole.
Observe traffic rules:
Whether you are a driver or passenger, you should strive to reach your destination in one piece. The National Transport and Safety Authority Act lays down all the rules for road users.
The Traffic Act cap 403 provides all the information on road safety. Things like using footbridges and giving right of way go a long way in averting accidents.
If you are intoxicated, always have a designated driver.
“Road users must be cognizant of the fact that after a heavy downpour across the country, the buildup of dirt and debris pose a danger to motorists,” read a statement released by Inspector General Hillary Mutyembai and NTSA Director General George Njao.
Do not swim without floaters:
Unless you are a professional or trained swimmer, do not attempt to swim in rivers, oceans, and lakes no matter how alluring they are.
Farouk Abdi, a swimming coach in Diani says he has encountered people who have never set foot in a large mass of water get enticed into activities like snorkeling and kayaking, and jumping in to water without wearing floaters.
“There are cases where people get overwhelmed by the waves and they die because they wanted to have fun,” he says.
He advises people who want to swim to go for swimming classes at the beginning of the year.
Do not drink excessively:
This may sound like an obvious warning, but National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) CEO Victor Okioma warns that young people are likely to get initiated into drinking alcohol during the festive season.
“A lot of alcohol will be flowing. Parents will be drinking in front of children. That is when the children taste it and get hooked,” he says.
He says intoxicated children are likely to get into risky behaviour, including stealing family cars and getting involved in road accidents.
Recently, a son of a former Cabinet Minister narrated how he got hooked to alcohol from watching his father and friends enjoy hearty laughter while consuming it.
Adults are also likely to engage in reckless behavior such as irresponsible sexual acts that could lead to lifelong regrets.
Remember it is okay to say no to children:
Dr Susan Gitau, a counseling psychologist and lecturer at African Nazarene University says the pressure that children put on parents during the festive season can be extremely stressful.
“They will see Christmas trees and other things that the neighbours have and they will want them. You may feel like a failure when you start telling them you cannot afford it,” she says.
She advises that it is okay to acknowledge when children make demands, but tell them in a voice that bears no blame that you are not in a position to buy the things they want.
Do not stir old conflicts:
The festive season is the time for families to have reunion and reminisce on past events.
Sadly, it can also be the time that past grudges come to the fore, and unresolved issues start simmering.
Gracie Maina, a trained mediator on family conflicts advises that families should consider involving a third party to help in finding solutions.
“There have been cases when family members kill one another because of issues, like fighting over land that took too long to resolve. Reunions can be par ticularly bad,” she says.
Everything in moderation:
In everything you do over the holidays, do them in moderation.
There is always a “golden mean” for any act, be it eating meat, taking alcohol, dancing, driving, and hiking.
The mild forms of these activities may not bring the excitement you will be looking for, but the extreme could be dangerous and at times fatal.
Over the holidays, people choke, drown, crash and injure themselves. Pursue moderation.