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(un)Healthy Holidays

Well folks, it’s that time of year again – the season to celebrate gift-giving, family time, and for Christians, the birth of eternal salvation. And for many, it’s also the opportune time for reflection on the year concluding and a chance to renew the many self-improvement goals for the year to come. And as I write this article in the sky somewhere between Manila and Guam, on my way home for a break from academic life, I can only imagine in eager anticipation the host of feasts and gatherings that are on the near horizon.

I’m smiling and it’s all great and all (and I don’t want sound like I’m out to ruin the spirit of the holidays) but… then I also think about all the unhealthy habits that I will most likely, um... Ok fine. I will DEFINITELY be exercising over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Yup, I think you know what I’m alluding to – the annual trinity of occasions that feature table-long spreads of food; free refills on alcohol; embarrassing snaps and pics posted on the gram from employees’ end-of-year parties; followed by the other annual tradition – the infamous CIS (call-in-sick) on the morning after.

Yes, we’re all imperfect and guilty of unhealthiness over the holidays and that’s fine. But I guess what I’m saying is that we also need to use holidays to rejuvenate ourselves and try to improve the healthy habits that we already routinely perform, as well as regenerating the ones that only last a couple of days before expiring on the second week of January. It’s the time to put down our many electronic gadgets and screens and try to make time to engage in physical face time with our children, grannies, friends and colleagues. It’s a time to renew our efforts to curb unhealthy habits such as drinking and driving, chewing, smoking, drinking and eating too much, and well, you know the rest.

Now I don’t want to sound like I’m preaching nor am I not including myself with what I’ve said, but it’s just something that I think we often disregard, ignore but should instead be mindful of – even when we’re enjoying ourselves. Our health and safety as well as of those around us is of prime importance. After all, we and the relationships we have, are the reasons why we celebrate, right? So yeah, nothing is worse than regretting later what we could have prevented today. Things like the onset of diabetes or hypertension and chronic acid.

For those around us, occurring all too often, and especially in small communities such as ours during the holiday season, we see too many horrible tragedies, mostly vehicular crashes that could have been prevented had we only stopped to remind ourselves of ourselves and others. Notice how I used vehicular crashes rather than accidents – simply because truly they aren’t accidents – they are preventable. And all it takes is one person to bravely go against the tide, against the peer pressure (and yes, we adults are also guilty of peer pressure) to do the right thing and take the keys from those intoxicated.

And so as we sit back and put our feet up, as we give ourselves a pat on the back for another year concluding; as we scurry to find the perfect gifts for everyone; as we plan the menus and venues for our end of year celebrations, let’s also think about our health keep in mind our safety and that of others over the holidays. Let’s be the designated driver for once, the one who ensures that we all enjoy responsibly and make it home safely. Happy holidays everyone. Stay fly, stay blessed, be safe and think healthy!

Gaafar Uherbelau is a social marketer for the Palau Ministry of Health and is currently studying Social Sciences for Public Health at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Send feedback to

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