Be The Life Of The Party

With party season looming it's time to prepare so you're in tip top shape to enjoy the fun without it taking a toll on your health. If you want to look the business and not succumb to P.S.F (Party Season Fatigue), read on.

Considering the economic climate, many of us will no doubt be trying to party our sorrows away this Christmas. Yet, while drinking and eating to excess might sound appealing, it won't be long before your body starts to rebel.

Tiredness, weight gain and headaches are nature's way of telling you to take it easy. But before you get desperate and begin wasting your Christmas present budget on exciting-sounding vitamin injections, read on.

:: PRE-PARTY PREPARATION


Health spokesperson Jacqui Jedrzejewski understands the toll of the party season. She suggests making a few adjustments to your routine, to see you through those late nights, and early mornings.

"Eating at regular intervals, not skipping breakfast, and getting enough sleep, are good ways to help you maintain your energy levels," she says.

"Choose foods that are digested slowly. Wholegrain rye bread, porridge, pasta, beans, lentils and noodles are good choices and contain slow-release energy which may help prevent you from feeling lethargic during the day.

Jacqui points out that the foods we turn to when we're hungover or have skipped meals can often make us feel the worst.

"Foods that are high in sugar, such as chocolate, cakes, biscuits and fizzy drinks, might give your body an instant energy rush when you eat and drink them. But, after the initial rush, your sugar levels will drop. And as they fall, so will your energy levels. As a result, you may find it more difficult to concentrate or you may feel irritable and tired. Likewise, drinking too much caffeine, found in tea, coffee, and cola drinks, can leave you feeling anxious, and restless."

None of which is good news for those planning to hit the office Christmas party with a bang. Jacqui explains that while mince pies might taste nice, they don't contain everything you need to look and feel great.

"There are essential nutrients that your body needs in order to work properly. Fruit and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals so you should eat at least five portions a every day. Fats and sugars contain more energy than any other food group and so should make up the smallest part of your diet. Save them for special occasions. That way you can enjoy some treats, without the side effects."

Finally, Jacqui suggests that exercise will not only burn off those extra party kilos, but keep you feeling festive.

"If you exercise regularly, you will benefit from the feel-good factor that you get afterwards. This is due to a release of a chemical called serotonin within your brain. Serotonin is your body's way of making you feel happier and less stressed."

:: 24-HOUR PARTY PEOPLE


Once you're in the party mood, don't let all your hard work slide as soon as you hit the pub. Heavy drinking plays havoc with our skin, liver and mental health, explains Jacqui.

"In terms of alcohol, drinking a moderate amount is unlikely to do you any physical or psychological harm," she says.

"However, for some people, social drinking can lead to heavier drinking, which can cause serious health problems. If you feel your social life revolves around alcohol or you're unable to stop drinking once you start, you may have a problem. So don't put your health at serious risk of conditions such as cirrhosis of the liver, high blood pressure and mental health problems."

Department of Health guidelines state that women can drink two units of alcohol per day without serious risk to health.

:: EASE THE POST-PARTY PAIN


Even if you manage to conscientiously supplement your alcoholic drinks with water at the office party, a heavy head is often inevitable. But, while water and time can usually alleviate the effects of too much booze, there can be other things to think about.

According to Rebecca Findlay, spokesperson for the Family Planning Association, very few of us expect to have a one night stand.

"We don't want people to worry about STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) and unplanned pregnancies over Christmas. But if you have sex with a new partner without a condom, it doesn't matter whether you're 30, 40 or 50, you're exposing yourself to infection. And for younger women, the risk of pregnancy."

Rebecca says that over Christmas family planning helplines go very quiet.

"We get lots of calls in January, because people have thought about what's happened to them, and started to panic," she says.

"But if you're worrying, go to a sexual health professional, get tested and get reassurance. The worst thing is to sit around and worry, and do nothing. On the whole, people don't go out expecting to have unprotected sex. It just happens."

Rebecca has one other top tip for Christmas.

"Remember that clinics and doctors surgeries aren't going to be open over Christmas, so make sure your contraceptive prescription is up to date or you've got plenty of condoms. You don't want to run out at the wrong time."

:: Visit www.sti.health.gov.au for more information about sexual health.

:: For general health advice go to www.health.gov.au
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