There’s lots to love about the holiday season. Preparing and eating large, elaborate meals and desserts, mingling with the holiday crowds, and spending time with friends and loved ones are just a few of the festivities that make the holidays so great. Of course, the same things that make the holidays so enjoyable can also get in the way of your health. Therefore, with the holiday season in full swing, let’s try our best to be in excellent health to enjoy the holiday with joy, cheer, and peace in this twindemic year. Apart from the lurking threat of the coronavirus, the flu virus becomes more stable in cold temperatures. That’s why the flu season is in the winter months and extends beyond the holiday season.
So how do you stay healthy during the holidays?
Whether it’s hearing the same Christmas song 12 times in a day, butting heads with family members, or burning Thanksgiving dinner, stress can take a toll on your health. Holiday stress can have an adverse effect on your immune system and weight. So, it’s essential to manage your emotions and stress at this time of the year. Some ways you can manage stress during the holidays are:
- Get adequate night sleep of 7-9 hours daily
- Make time to de-stress by connecting with loved ones
- Delegate your work, and don’t take it all upon yourself
- Have a dedicated ‘Me’ time for yourself where you do whatever makes you happy
- Practice mindfulness and adopt an attitude of gratitude
Keep a regular sleep schedule
Sleeping the recommended 7-9 hours a night goes a long way to keeping your immune system working and your adrenals healthy when faced with holiday stress. Try to avoid electronics or switch the settings to night mode right before bed. The blue light in electronic devices activates the pineal gland and prevents melatonin from being released, which is needed for restful sleep.
Make healthy food choices
Cook a healthy holiday menu, and fill your plate with healthy foods. Choose green beans instead of green bean casserole, and corn instead of candy corn. If you know that healthy dishes will be scarce at your family meal, bring a salad or a vegetable tray.
Did you know that holiday weight gain contributes to half of your annual weight gain? And what’s even more challenging is that most people don’t lose that holiday weight gained easily.
Change the ‘now or never’ mindset of the holidays. So, focus on having fun with your loved ones, instead of food. Practice eating food in moderation and limit your alcohol intake. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated during the winters. Eating various whole grains, nuts, seeds, colorful fruits, and vegetables is your best bet to strengthen your immune system.
Make your immunity a priority
The holiday season provides the perfect opportunity for the coronavirus and flu virus to spread as people travel more and are more in contact with other people during this time of the year.
The CDC recommends celebrating the holidays at home with the people you stay with or have a virtual meet with loved ones who live in other places. Travel increases the chances of the spread of COVID-19, and if you must travel, then get tested before you do so.
The holidays are a good time to focus on what’s really meaningful in our lives. Try to say thank you often and focus on all the things you are thankful for.
Safety is another crucial aspect to remaining healthy throughout the holiday season. Here are some safety tips that you can practice with your family:
- Hand washing: Wash hands thoroughly and frequently to avoid the spread of germs, especially before meals, and after restroom use, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Learn the right techniques for handwashing.
- Warm clothing: Wear warm clothing to protect yourself from the cold
- Prevent holiday accidents and injuries: Accidents and injuries while decorating for the holidays are common. Watch out when you climb up ladders and roofs, be careful while installing decorative lighting, and practice extra caution where children are concerned.
- Fire safety: Avoid smoking to prevent fire-related accidents and injuries. Have an emergency evacuation plan for fire accidents, just in case.
- Food safety: The CDC recommends food safety practices to stay healthy during the holidays: wash hands before preparing the food, wash surface and dishes, and ensure that food is adequately cooked and stored at the right temperatures to avoid food-related illnesses.
- Don’t drink and drive: Always assign the task of driving to someone who has not consumed alcohol.
Make time for exercise
It’s easy to neglect physical activity during the holiday season. It’s cold outside, you have decorating and party planning to do, or maybe you’re busy visiting with relatives. Still, daily exercise is crucial for good health. Prioritize physical activity, and make time to be active. Also, you can beat holiday weight gain by staying physically active during the season. During the holiday season, the already challenging endeavor of making time for fitness becomes even more difficult. You can reinvent your holiday workout by splitting your physical activity routine into smaller exercise routines.
Out of ideas? You can Consider taking up healthy holiday traditions. Go for a walk after Thanksgiving dinner. Plan an annual Black Friday hike. Throw a football in the back yard. Go for a group bike ride, or walk around the neighborhood and sing carols.
Get a flu and COVID-19 shots
The holiday season overlaps with flu season. Remember that we are also in a COVID-19 pandemic. People typically travel more, and spend more time around other people during this time of year. COVID-19 and Flu vaccinations are the most effective ways to prevent flu and COVID-19 outbreaks as well as masking up when in large group settings and observing social distancing. Get your shots today.
Balance is vital for maintaining good health during the holidays. Hobe Sound Primary Care has you covered on how to stay fit and healthy so you can have the most memorable and enjoyable holiday season with your loved ones.
The best way to stay healthy during the holidays is to schedule a health checkup and flu and COVID -19 shots appointment during this season. It’s the best time to visit your primary care physician to stay up-to-date on all health exams, vaccinations, and discuss your family health history.
Let’s stay healthy during the holidays. Book your appointment.
Gracia Pierre-Pierre, MD CAQSM