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Why Do I Get Ill Every Christmas -Twelve Signs You Should Not Ignore?

December 15, 2020

Do you know the common reasons people fall ill every Christmas? These are some health problems that happen more commonly around the festivities – and which could dim otherwise happy festivity. Well, read on and see which you agree with…

Updated August 2023

#1 – Coronavirus Infection

Yes, of course – It’s Covid-19. 

The good news is that years after the pandemic outbreak, there are several vaccines for use.

Regardless, public health measures are still essential, my friends:

  • limiting your interactions if you or those close to you are unwell (use a face mask if you have a respiratory illness)
  • wash hands frequently.

If you are not sure whether or not you have Covid symptoms, use our symptom checker to learn whether you do and what to do next.

#2 – Overeating

Overeating is nearly always guaranteed at this time of the year, with so many goodies to choose from and is one of the common reasons to be ill every Christmas.

 A combination of food types that you don’t eat often and in large quantities you are unused to leads to problems after overeating, like heartburn, bloating, indigestion, and stomach cramps.

In addition to all this, overeating can make you feel short of breath, affect your insulin levels, make you retain fats and sugar and trigger heart problems. 

Tips to help with Overeating:

  • Take a walk after eating a meal.
  • Eat slowly during the meal.
  • Spread out meal times – avoid overeating on one occasion.
  • Get in extra exercise over the festive period – 30mins on a treadmill, jogging or workout can help balance out excess calories.

#3 – Feeling Low, Sad or Anxious

For some of us, during the season of good cheer, we may not feel there is much to cheer about. 

This could be for several reasons personal, business or work; it could be from things in your past or just from recent events. We all have different ways of dealing with difficult situations, but Xmas seems a particularly stressful time besides.

There is the tradition that Christmas is all about joy, family and togetherness, which makes you feel like an outsider if you are on your own.

Powerful coping methods to use are:

  • Pace yourself – when you realise this can be a difficult time for you, choose what you want to do.
  • Practice gratitude/ Meditate/Journal your thoughts – sometimes, taking the time to do this can help you approach a situation a different way and give some insight into solving it.
  • Consider enlisting a buddy – someone you can speak to when you feel like it – may be a close friend or family, or it may be a group like the Samaritans (UK) and Mentally Aware NG (Nigeria).

#4 – Relationship Issues

Another thing Christmas does is stir up a lot of emotions in your love life.

 Some people break up over Christmas, and some get together over Christmas. As one of the common reasons to be ill every Christmas, breakups at this time can be particularly challenging and memorable. 

Key tips that can help:

  • Look after yourself – intentionally treat or spoil yourself.
  • A little space in a relationship can help evaluate and decide what you want and whether you are happy in the relationship or just excited to be in a relationship.
  • Speak to a friend if you are struggling with your emotions.

#5 – Household Accidents

Lots of cooking, activities and excitement in the air all make up for a good time but also – accidents and getting ill every Christmas.

These could be from the kitchen – cuts, burns or fires, or while kids are playing.

The Key Points are to be prepared and use sensible tips:

  • Have someone keep an eye on very young children if you are going to be busy or engaged elsewhere.
  • Check the house is kid-safe: designate their play areas.
  • Keep a First Aid box or tool kit to hand
  • Have some common over-the-counter remedies to deal with minor ailments: bandages/plasters/ child and adult paracetamol/Piriton etc

#6 – Too Much Alcohol

Another festive indulgence is taking alcohol to celebrate and mark the season – sadly, a lot of people don’t know when to stop.

Of course, with Covid restrictions in a lot of places, there may be less risk of boozing on a night out; but excess drinking when alone or in small groups still happens.

So what Tips could help?

#7 – Road Traffic and Vehicle Accidents

Around the world, and for different reasons, road and vehicle accidents seem to happen more (with serious ill) every Christmas.

 Some may be weather-related, others from careless or speedy driving, or influenced by drugs and alcohol.

Some Tips:

  • Remember to drive only when you think it’s safe on the road.
  • Don’t drive if you’ve been drinking or using drugs, have medicine side effects, or are extremely emotional.

#8 – Physical/Sexual Assaults and Domestic Violence

Another unpleasant underbelly of the festive season is the higher possibility of physical and sexual assaults. In this period where the global pandemic has created movement restrictions, domestic violence can flare up when people remain in close confines.

Excess alcohol or drug use during the season can trigger violent outbursts that lead to physical and sexual assaults.

Our health services need to be prepared for these types of assaults. Whether it’s the festive season or pandemic, services for sexual assault are open in many places, and you can reach them through the police or local health services.

Link to some Sexual Assault Referral Centres in Nigeria.

#9 – Heart Attack

In a heart attack, the muscles in a part of the heart die.

The death of the muscle usually happens from a blockage of the blood supply of that part. 

It is common in older people with problems like high blood pressure; or people who have diabetes, smoke, are overweight or have pre-existing heart disease.

It could happen at any time, but over the festivities, there could be a greater risk from the increase of a heart attack in activities and excitement over time – which is why we feel this is a reason for being ill every Christmas.

Tips for handling this:

  • Be aware if you or a relative have conditions that could make a heart attack likely.
  • Watch activities and food/alcohol consumption over the period.
  • Take your prescription medicines; don’t forget to get refills over the holidays.
  • One of the common symptoms of a heart attack can be chest tightness, pain or indigestion that could look like heartburn and indigestion in the middle of celebrations. For people who have this symptom and also feel breathless and very ill, seek urgent medical care.

#10 – Food Poisoning

What about Food Poisoning makes it on our list of the twelve pains of Christmas?

Well, given the big celebrations around the season, there is often a greater risk of food poisoning from poor hygiene when preparing meals and while doing so in large groups.

Food poisoning happens when germs contaminate food and drinks that we consume. When we share food or leave them unattended for long periods, as may happen during a small (or large) gathering, their risks of getting contaminated are higher. This is especially so if don’t take the right safety precautions.

Some tips to remember:

  • Store foods at the right temperature,
  • Wash hands and utensils properly before cooking
  • Reheat foods thoroughly
  • Discard any suspicious foods

If you do get food poisoning and suffer from stomach upsets or diarrhoea, watch here for tips to get better quickly and safely at home.

#11 – Overspending?!

What, Doctor – that’s not a medical condition“, I can hear you say!

Well, you could consider it so in some circumstances! 

Overspending can be a sign of a mental health condition known as mania that can happen in bipolar disorder.

But then, we all mostly go slightly manic over Christmas, don’t we??

So it’s the effects of overspending that we should pay attention to as a cause of being ill every Christmas – or afterwards. 

Spending so much money on gifts or other perks at Christmas that you go into debt after the holidays is not a good idea.

You could be paying the price for the ‘generosity’ for months afterwards – with a significant impact on your mental health and other plans.

You made it this far, and it is well worth the wait:

#12 – Unrealistic Expectations and New Year Resolutions

It’s easy to be carried away by the tons of information coming at you from social media, what your friends and peers are doing – and what everyone says you should be doing.


Yes, it’s an excellent time to plan and resolve to do something good, but be realistic and make simple but SMART goals.

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

  • Please split one of your big dreams or visions into small, manageable daily or weekly goals and targets.
  • Tick them off as you get them done.
  • Stick to your plan, focus and don’t get distracted.
  • It’s the consistent bird that catches the giant worms.

Which of these twelve pains of Christmas rings a bell for you from past Christmases?

Let me know in the comments below your recent most memorable Christmas health pains and how you got on.

If you’d like to get regular health information like this, make sure you subscribe to our newsletters.

More Reading:


Editing by AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on a wide range of healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality healthcare. 

The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified healthcare practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly

Image Credits: Canva

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