Manage Your Health to Enjoy the Holidays
No matter how or where you celebrate it, the holiday season often brings a lot of tension. Read on for our tips to enjoy the season and start next year on a positive note.
David Brown, MD, a Summit Health primary care doctor, says that while the holidays reconnect us with loved ones, they’re also fraught with complex friends and family dynamics, money worries, and the endless preparation of food. “Remember to make time for yourself,” he recommends. “It’s okay to say no to things you don’t want or don’t have time to do. Decide what matters most and do things that truly bring you joy.”
Dr. Brown also feels that self-care is important. He says “Plan ahead and set boundaries for your time. Do what you can ahead of time like shopping in bulk, meal prepping, and freezing meals which can save time, save money, and limit unhealthy meal choices.”
This time of year triggers depression for a variety of reasons. “Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help—talk to your doctor about counseling and other options to help treat depression,” says Dr. Brown. “Reach out to those who are without family and friends during this time of the year. Holidays are especially difficult for those who are alone.”
If you haven’t received your flu vaccine yet, it’s not too late, says Dr. Brown. “While the CDC recommends getting a flu shot by the end of October, most of the flu cases I see are in December, January, and February,” he emphasizes. “So go to your local pharmacy or doctor for your flu shot, which is free or very low cost.”
Also, book a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot as well if you haven’t already. This is also a good opportunity to review any other vaccinations that may be due.
Manage Your Hands
Good hand hygiene is even more imperative than usual during the winter months when colds and flu abound. It’s a tried-and-true method to prevent the spread and risk of viral and bacterial illness.
“Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing, when caring for the sick, after using the toilet, before eating, after touching common surfaces such as doorknobs or handles, and after you come home from visiting a public space,” suggests Dr. Brown. “Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you can’t use soap and water.”
Schedule your annual physical to address any health concerns you have and take preventative action. Millions of Americans suffer from diseases like diabetes and hypertension without knowing it. To that end, Dr. Brown says that physicians like to “ensure you are up to date with your mammogram and colonoscopy, check basic routine blood work, check your cholesterol, and measure your blood pressure. Early detection of underlying disease can often result in a better prognosis and better outcome.”
Dr. Brown adds that it’s also an important time to review and update personal and family history, especially if you see a number of providers.
Manage Your Wellness Routine
Don’t give up on your diet and workout plans, especially if you already have chronic health conditions.
“Have a healthy snack before holiday meals so you don’t overindulge on sweets,” Dr. Brown advises. “Keep a regular sleep, meal, and exercise schedule. Limit alcohol intake or make sure to have a designated driver, taxi, or ride-sharing service to take you home.”
Dr. Brown also recommends keeping hydrated, staying warm or dressing in layers, and eating a well-balanced diet.
Reduce the possibility of becoming a holiday statistic. The most common injuries seen in urgent care during the cold winter months are slip-and-falls, resulting in broken wrists and ankles. Be sure to wear proper clothing and shoes and be extra careful on snow and ice.
When you’re shoveling snow Dr. Brown says that “proper lifting technique (i.e. bending the hips and knees to squat down as opposed to lifting by bending forward) can help prevent injuries such as back strain and spasm.”
Decorating your home? “Always check your ladder for broken hinges or loose screws,” Dr. Brown advises. “Wear proper footwear and make sure shoelaces are tied securely.”
Dr. Brown also cautions against trying to do things too quickly in the kitchen. “It’s common to see in clinic lacerations from people slicing frozen bagels, de-pitting avocados, and using mandolin slicers.”
And finally, Dr. Brown adds, beware of anything hot or heavy. “To avoid burns, make sure to have plenty of oven mitts nearby and avoid carrying heavy trays or platters without assistance.”