The holidays are a joyful time of year. Filled with gift giving, family time, and social gatherings, they can also be stressful and overwhelming. A few simple adjustments, though, can keep you and your loved ones safe, happy, and healthy.
With the “12 Days of Christmas” in mind, I wanted to share 12 steps to help you enjoy a healthier holiday season.
- Wash your hands.
Sure, it sounds simple, but this small effort goes a long way, especially during flu season. Use soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds. If you’re feeling festive, sing “Jingle Bells” to time yourself!
- Dress appropriately.
When the cold weather blows in, be sure to bundle up! Wear light, warm layers, gloves, hats, scarves, and waterproof boots.
- Stay up-to-date with your annual exams, screenings, and vaccinations.
Check-in with your primary care physician and specialty doctors to ensure that you’ve completed all your necessary appointments for the year. If you haven’t already, make an appointment for your flu shot and/or COVID booster too.
- Practice fire safety.
Did you know that most residential fires occur during the winter months? Don’t leave fireplaces, space heaters, food cooking on stoves, or candles unattended. Be especially careful if you have pets and/or kids at home.
- Pack your diet with nutrients and healthy portions.
If you struggle with your eating at holiday gatherings, know that you’re not alone! It can be hard to make healthy choices when you’re surrounded by pies, cookies, and cakes. Fortunately, small efforts can add up to big results. To start, don’t skip breakfast or dinner to “save up” for a big meal or holiday party! Instead, be aware of your serving size and include fruits and vegetables with every meal.
- Stay active!
During the winter, it can be tempting to stay snuggled up on the couch and forgo your neighborhood walk. Try to move for two-and-a-half hours each week. Encourage children and teens to be active for at least one hour every day. Stuck inside due to bad weather? Turn the Christmas music on and have a family dance party!
- Practice stress management.
It’s easy to feel stretched too thin during the holidays. Recognize when you need a break or even just a deep breath. Make time to fill your own cup, whether that means reading a favorite book, connecting with a friend, or ending your day with a bubble bath. Need some more tips? Check out my recent blog post to help you mentally refresh after a stressful day!
- Don’t drink and drive.
If you’re attending a holiday party, make sure you have driving arrangements figured out in advance.
- Steer clear of smokers.
Smokers often have health problems due to their tobacco use, but even non-smokers increase their own risks when exposed to secondhand smoke. If you have smokers in your family, encourage them to use cigarettes far away from holiday gatherings.
- Always buckle up!
No matter how short the trip, always wear a seat belt. Encourage your passengers to do the same. Be sure children are using a proper car seat or booster seat as well.
- Get plenty of sleep.
You may be strapped for time as your calendar overflows with holiday events, but that means sufficient sleep should be an even higher priority than usual. Not only does tiredness make you more prone to crave high-sugar foods, but it also makes you more irritable and disrupts our immunity, leaving you more likely to get sick.
- Stay hydrated.
We often think about the importance of hydration during the summer months, but it’s critical to your overall health year-round! Aim to drink a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal for the most benefits: It will help you feel full and allow you to make better decisions about what you eat.
Reach out to Dr. Asha Tota-Maharaj, MD at Platinum Primary Care with all your healthcare needs. Come visit us at 2071 Dundee Drive in Winter Park.