A holiday is not always unmixed good. It is sometimes the very reverse.
Many people feel more tired out at the end of a holiday, less fit to resume their labour, than they were at the beginning. They are the worse, and not the better, for their period of rest from work and devotion to recreation. In most cases, this is due to the fact that people take no cognisance of the dangers of holidays, that they run risks they would never dream of doing in their usual daily routine. Excessive Energy
The dangers of overstrain, over-fatigue, and too much rushing about, were considered in an earlier article on holidays (page 2060), So that it need only be said at this point that excess of fatigue and strain comprise a holiday danger which those who are wise guard against.
This especially applies to the Continental holiday, which entails a good deal of travelling, irregular meals, and the tension of catching trains and securing accommodation in a strange country when one is not very familiar with either the language or the customs of the people.
Whilst the holiday which provides change and variety is exceedingly desirable from many points of view, the nerve strain of travelling from place to place, the physical fatigue of constant movement, the mental tension which the assimilation of new impressions entails, are distinct holiday dangers. This does not mean that the Continental holiday cannot be both profitable and enjoyable. The great thing is to guard against doing too much, and trying to cover more ground than one can comfortably manage.
Another holiday danger which applies both to this country and the Continent is connected with the food. Many people are apt to be careless about diet on a holiday, though they are the very reverse at home. They eat meals at all sorts of irregular times, and sacrifice their digestions whenever they find that care about diet interferes with desirable excursions or pleasurable entertainment. They imagine that the fresh air and change of scene they are enjoying will make up for carelessness in the matter of diet. This is the greatest mistake. If one is not careful to get meals of proper quality and quantity at regular times, more than half the benefit of a holiday is lost altogether. To go for many hours without food until one is exhausted is paying too heavily for any excursion. To take sandwiches instead of a good square meal is tampering with the health to a dangerous extent if it is repeated too often on holiday.
Mothers should be specially careful about the children's food, as many serious illnesses are contracted at the seaside from eating mussels and other shellfish in doubtful condition. Cheap sweets are another source of sickness on holiday, whilst green fruit will cause an illness from which it will take weeks to recover.
The water supply is a common source of danger at holiday time. Unless one is absolutely certain of the purity and freshness of the drinking water it should invariably be boiled before use. The sanitary arrangements at seaside resorts are often defective, and although the natives become more or less immune to contaminated water, the visitors, fresh to the place, will far more readily succumb. It is worth knowing that whilst water often appears per fectly fresh, it may contain dangerous germs. Filtering is not a perfect safeguard, as disease germs will pass readily through most filtering apparatus. The only safeguard is to boil the water, and it is a good plan to make a point of doing this as a matter of routine, wherever there are children especially. Most people who travel know that drinking water is best avoided altogether in foreign countries.
The milk supply should also receive due attention. The best safeguard is to boil the milk, as well as the water, in order to destroy the disease germs.
Summer chills may not appear a very common holiday danger for some people, but the risk of overheating after exercise and subsequent chill is a very real one. Whilst the uncertain weather of the British climate makes a wetting a fairly common cause of chills and colds in summer, people are too apt to go off on excursions inadequately protected from rain, and many a chill is contracted on the beach through wading, until the vitality is lowered to such an extent that colds are readily "caught."
Summer sore throat may arise both from chill and from the irritation of dust when cycling, walking, or motoring on country roads. Every breath taken in a dusty atmosphere draws thousands of invisible particles of dust, laden with microbes, through the respiratory passages into the lungs.
Tonsilitis is, therefore, a common summer ailment amongst people whose throats are their weak points. Dust is emphatically a holiday danger, in that it seems worse in country districts, away from the paved streets of the town, where the watering cart keeps it in check.
The only way to counteract this danger is to breathe invariably by the nose, which filters to some extent the dust-laden air. Occasional gargling of the throat, perhaps night and morning, with simple cold water in which a little borax powder is dissolved will allay irritation and often prevent attacks of sore throat. The hair requires careful brushing, and the face should be steamed at night over a bowl of boiling water, and then gently massaged with cream.
The irritation of dust is a serious one where the eyes are concerned. The girl who cycles or walks at this season knows only too well that smarting eyes and inflamed lids will probably follow upon a dusty ride. Dark glasses, in many instances, will protect the eyes both from dust and the glare of the sun, and the holiday danger of inflamed eyes is thus prevented.
The glare of the sun is another danger. Heat fag, too, very readily follows upon exposure to high temperature, even when the sun's rays are not intensely bright. It is a form of exhaustion which can be avoided by resting during the hottest part of the day, and taking exercise out of doors in the cool of the evening, or in the early morning hours. As a precaution against sunstroke, a shady hat should be worn, whilst the parasol is from the point of view of health and beauty, a useful possession. The best type of parasol is green, as this colour rests
Those who are playing games out of doors will find the protection of a handkerchief folded into a pad and laid under the coat on the nape of the neck extremely useful. When the sun's rays are allowed to beat down on the upper part of the spine, a great deal of harm may result. The same thing is true if the direct sunlight falls upon the eyes. Hence the utility of the hat with a wide brim before and behind.
The danger of iced drinks and long drinks of cold water and lemonade or other beverage requires to be mentioned. In the very hot weather a mild erythema, or slight inflammation, of the mouth and throat often makes thirst almost unendurable. In such cases copious drinks are of less use in allaying thirst than sips of cold water or China tea. An excessive amount of cold water or iced fluid retards digestion, and helps to set up attacks of dyspepsia and liver, which are fairly common in hot weather.
The risk of insufficient sleep is another holiday danger. Those who are on holiday naturally desire to be out of doors as much as possible, and get such amusement into the twenty-four hours as they can. The long, light evenings and the short nights are a real temptation to many people to curtail their hours of sleep at both ends. They go to bed late, and get up earlier than they do at home, and may not feel the ill effects of this curtailment of their sleep for some time. Those who are wise try to get more sleep during a holiday than usual, in order to build up energy for the future, and the benefit of a holiday will be increased considerably if the rule of a 10.30 bedtime is adhered to. A short midday rest of even half an hour will make the latter part of the day less fatiguing and more enjoyable.
Now let us consider briefly a few rules to sum up "Holiday Dangers."
1. Map out the day so wisely that you get the maximum of pleasure with the minimum of strain.
2. Avoid exercise during the hot part of the day in the blazing sun.
3. Take food regularly, and give up heavy diet, which is not necessary in hot weather, when the body heat is easily maintained. So take good fruit, salads, egg-and-milk dishes in preference to butcher's meat, rich food, and thick soups.
4. Try to avoid rapid cooling after exercise, and remember to change the clothing when perspiration is excessive, and thus avoid a chill.
5. Never on any account eat food that is tainted. Meat and fish spoil rapidly in hot weather, and headaches and sickness are the penalties for those who eat them.
6. If, after a week's holiday, you do not feel better than at the beginning, ask yourself the reason why. Investigate carefully your diet. Find out if your bedroom is properly ventilated, and ask yourself if you are getting enough sleep. Plan your day so that you have sufficient moderate exercise, and yet enough rest to give your system a chance of recuperation after the strain and work of the last six months.
7. Give your eyes as much rest as possible, unless your sight is undeniably good and reading novels is one of the recreations you love. Main-people suffer from eye-strain during holiday time from the combined glare of the sun and the excessive use of the eyes. Also, at the beginning of a holiday the eyes are generally overstrained and fagged by the lowered vitality of the whole system. When it can be achieved, it is much the wisest possible measure for the brainworker to give the eyes a complete rest.
8. Wear clothing as light in texture and colour as possible, as heavy clothes increase the tendency to heat exhaustion. Light clothes also are more suitable to the holiday spirit, and prevent a great deal of the excessive heat and discomfort of which so many people complain.