Every year has its ups and downs for everyone.
And whether we realise it or not, there's always something that changes us ever so slightly during the year.
Probably more so in 2017, considering the fact that people have dubbed it 2016's sequel.
So it's completely understandable that at the end of the year all we want to do is to kick off our shoes, let down our hair and just live life daily like we're at one of Diddy's Miami parties.
December is always a long-awaited month and once we fully embrace it, it feels like Friday every day.
Bonang Matheba really hit the nail on the head when she coined the phrase, "December isn't a month. It's a lifestyle."
But just because ke Dezemba Boss, Big Days or Silly Season, it doesn't mean all responsible and considerate behaviour should suddenly fly out the window.
Every lifestyle has its limits.
I'm sure we've all seen an increase in traffic heading towards liquor stores, hangout spots in town are now full before 8pm, the dress you told yourself you're going to come back for over the weekend is sold out, ice and coal are literally running out at convenience stores and there's suddenly an influx of "hey, stranger" texts.
All very festive. All very exciting yet overwhelming in the same breath.
However, let's not forget that this month also comes with the highest rate of road accident fatalities and arrests for DUI (driving under the influence).
Last December Wheels24 reported that there had been a 17% increase in road deaths since the month began, predicting that these numbers could worsen in the next few years.
We're only two weekends in and the stats aren't in yet for 2017, but I'm sure we've already had to remind a friend not to take their car out to the streets on an evening out.
Some of which may have dangerously responded with "I really focus once I get behind the wheel after a couple of drinks."
So here are a few extremely important ways to ensure that you (and those around you) remain safe this holiday season:
Ditch the car keys
December soirées often escalate into big nights even when they weren't intended to be.
This is because people are more carefree and have less responsibilities during this time.
So if you find that after lunch, someone suggests heading somewhere a little more boozy, please go park your car at home, a friend's place, or rather leave it in a secure parking lot (mall close by) and take an Uber or Taxify to the new spot.
Paying R100 for parking is far cheaper than paying bail for your DUI arrest or even paying with your life just for a few hours of turn-up.
And please have a serious word with drivers who think they are more focused/careful when driving under the influence. We all know what happened to Jordan's (Leo DiCaprio's character) car when he thought he drove "perfectly" after taking quaaludes in The Wolf of Wall Street.
Unlike Jordan, not everyone makes it out alive. Again, Wheels24 has all the receipts.
And yes, sometimes you may be the careful driver who hasn't even had one drink, but the streets are also filled with drivers who haven't taken the same precautions you have, as seen in the clip above.
So please leave the driving to the sober pros.
Now is not the time to be a lone ranger
I'm not talking about being single or doing things like shopping or dining by yourself. That's 100% encouraged.
I'm talking about driving or filling up at night alone, going to bathrooms in public spaces without a friend or using the ATM in isolated spaces unaccompanied.
Criminal activity thrives during the festive season and the last thing you need is to be a hustler's next unsuspecting victim.
Go to music concerts and the like with a group of people you trust. Before you head to the loo, announce it (yes, seriously) and ask a friend to accompany you.
Use ATMs at the mall or at the bank, where security is always present.
If you're Ubering alone, share your trip status with someone so they can keep track you until you reach your destination.
Stay charged up
Always make sure you have a full battery and data or airtime before you go anywhere over the next few weeks.
And take a power bank with you because we all know iPhone battery life can't be trusted. Any smartphone that does any better?
This isn't just so you can post all your snaps and stories in real time but in case of emergencies.
We're all adults but we also have parents or family members who live far from us and may try to call when we're not at home - reaching your voicemail may cause some panic given the festive climate.
Another reason for ensuring that your phone stays charged is so that you may be able to request an Uber or Taxify when you have to go home.
Eat, sleep, hydrate
Making sure that your phone's battery is full is just as important as recharging your body as well.
Once you have achieved your summer body (if that's what you want), you may forget to look after it during December. In this context the perfect summer body isn't even about being a perfect size 32 (or insert your own body goals) but about taking care of yourself.
There is a lot of traveling, dining and celebrating to get through - all of which can be very time consuming and physically draining.
Firstly, you don't have to RSVP 'yes' to everything.
You're allowed to take a personal weekend off for some home-cooked meals, afternoon naps, and watch movies or series just to recuperate.
Unless of course it's a family member's or close friend's wedding or birthday then don't be a d***.
Secondly, if your social calendar is packed and you're all about that lifestyle, then please remember to always eat something before you leave the house. And to drink a full bottle of water when you get home.
Practise safe sex
It's important to stay safe both on the streets and in the sheets.
If you're single and willing to mingle, don't be afraid to carry your own condoms in your handbag.
Health24 recently alerted us to the fact that STD stats are now at an all-time high and what's even scarier is that this number is probably much higher due to the fact that people may be unaware of their infections.
Because a lot of STDs are actually not symptomatic. In the article a statement from a sex reseracher is quoted as follows; "Sexually transmitted infections [STIs] are often called a ‘silent epidemic’ for the very reason that they don’t typically have outward signs."
Gonorrhoea, chlamydia, HPV, and herpes are listed as the four most common 'sneaky' STDs.
Which brings us to the next safety measure...
Keep the doors of communication open
If you're engaging in a casual sexual relationship, remain as transparent as possible. Communicate with your partner and don't put their health at risk by entertaining other people behind their back.
If you are, let them know so they can opt out if they're not up for that kind of arrangement.
Respect shouldn't just be reserved for exclusive romantic relationships only - you're still dealing with real human feelings in casual situationships too.
If you are in a relationship, please don't let the month put strain on it.
No one wants to be stressing over what their partner might be getting up to in their absence when they should be unwinding like everybody else.
It takes only 30 seconds to text "Spending the afternoon with the squad at (insert location). I'lll call or text when I get home. Hope you're having a good day."
Alternatively, if you know the December bug bites you harder than some, then perhaps it's best not to enter a relationship while you're still trying to navigate monogamy.
Watch your pockets
Yep, those 13th cheques have come in for some people, allowing for more liberal spending habits.
However, January sends her love.
Buy those gifts, eat more lavishly, fork out a little extra for that trip but do so in a financially savvy manner.
Fine dining on a budget?
Keep your eyes and your tummy peeled for restaurants which offer specials on certain days. Sushi Sundays, Steak Mondays, Pasta Tuesdays, Cocktail Thursdays... it's all out there for you to enjoy.
The intention is not to be a Debby Downer with all these safety measures but to instill a sense of responsibility within all of us.
While for some this is a gleeful period, it's also a trigger for some families - so let's limit those triggers even in the midst of iBig Days.
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