You may have heard that more people die over the holidays and assumed that winter traveling and traffic accidents are to blame, or you may have figured that these statistics are fabricated to scare people into driving safely. In fact, there’s more truth and reasoning behind this strange fact than you may realize. Here is why death rates skyrocket over the holidays and how to keep you and your family safe.
Research of death certificates in the United States has shown that you’re more likely to die from Dec. 25 through New Year’s Day than at any other time of the year. Extensive studies have been undertaken to prove these results, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and have proven that this fact is true for all adults, regardless of age.
So what causes an increase in death?
Though it is hard to pinpoint the exact reason behind this holiday death spike, many researchers conclude that the increased mortality rate is, in fact, tied to the weather…just not necessarily related to impaired driving conditions.
Professionals have posited theories that suggest cold weather could be to blame. For instance, the colder it is outside, the harder is it for your body to recover from something like a heart attack, or flu. Plus, frigid temperatures put you more at risk for complications from cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems, and even cancer.
This seems like natural reasoning and should be a satisfactory conclusion to the question of high death rates and the holidays. However, Josh Knight, a researcher at the University of Melbourne, found different results. He and his team looked at 25 years of mortality data from New Zealand. Of course, in New Zealand, Christmas and New Year’s occur during the summer season, taking cold weather out of the equation entirely. They found that even when Christmas is in the summer, the death rates still increased over the holidays by around 4% compared to the rest of the year, which means that colder temperatures and health complications related to winter weather may have nothing to do with it.
Though it is hard to find an exact cause and effect, it is easy to see a few other factors that can contribute to more people dying. The holidays can be an incredibly stressful time due to financial strain, family relationships, social pressures, and other burdens. If this stress is compounded upon an already stressed out arendal system, it can cause severe issues in the body such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
It is also important to note that the holidays are a time of indulgence for many people. Whether you are sneaking in extra cookies, gorging yourself on a rich Christmas dinner, or partaking of a little too much festive alcohol, you may experience adverse effects. Especially if you already have existing risk factors and are unhealthy, to begin with.
How to stay alive
Staying safe and healthy during the holidays is usually just as simple as staying safe and healthy during the rest of the year. Eat right, exercise, keep your stress levels down and prioritize, and listen to what your body needs. However, there are a few holiday-specific things that could get you through this season alive:
While it isn’t necessarily the cause of the uptick of death rates in the United States over Christmas, holidays do increase your chances of encountering a drunk driver on the road. Plus, winter weather is a factor in many accidents. Be a defensive driver, drink responsibly, avoid driving when intoxicated, and always check the weather before you leave.
Eat and drink in moderation
Go ahead and enjoy that holiday egg nog, but stop after one glass instead of three. Enjoy a single cookie instead of a dozen and practice smart portion control during sumptuous holiday meals. It will be much easier to get back on track if you don’t entirely scrap your healthy way of eating during the Christmas season. Your body won’t experience as much of a shock if you still strive to fill it with good fuel to keep it running well.
Eliminate stress whenever possible
Stress is a silent killer, and keeping tabs on your anxiety and cortisol levels is a critical form of self-care. If you notice that something is causing you undue amounts of stress and if it’s possible to remove yourself from the situation, then it is crucial to do so. It could mean the difference between life and death.
-The Alternative Daily