It’s that time of year again!
The leaves are changing colors, and there is a chill in the air, signaling the arrival of fall and the beginning of the holiday season.
This time of year is filled with celebrations, traditions and gatherings with loved ones. Maintaining healthy habits during this time can be difficult because of changes in schedules, harsh weather, traveling and indulging in special foods or treats. For example, in my family, Thanksgiving is not complete without my sister’s pumpkin pie and Christmas is not complete without my mom’s tamales. I don’t deprive myself of those foods, but I try to balance those choices with healthy choices.
Here are some tips that can help keep you healthy and happy this holiday season:
- Avoid colds and flu. Protect yourself and your loved ones by getting your annual flu shot or nasal flu vaccine. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. Cover your cough, and sneeze with your elbow or a tissue. When traveling, wipe down airplane, train or bus seat armrests, tray tables, seatbelt buckles and air vents with disinfecting wipes.
- Eat healthy and be active. Balance and moderation can be difficult during this time of year. Make healthier choices such as drinking water instead of soda. Fill half of your plate with vegetables. Choose fresh fruit instead of candy. Take a walk or a hike with your loved ones, or dance to holiday music. Stay hydrated. Avoid overeating by chewing gum or eating a mint in between servings.
- Manage stress. Traveling, spending money, family and work commitments can make the holiday season stressful. Get enough rest to recharge (seven to eight hours for adults; nine to 10 hours for teens; 10 to 12 hours for young children). Watch for warning signs of too much stress, including anxiety, sadness, tension, anger or loss of appetite. You can manage stress by seeking support from loved ones, staying active, getting enough rest, limiting or avoiding alcohol, getting a massage, praying or meditating and eating a healthy diet.
- Handle and prepare food safely. Keep your guests, family and loved ones safe from food-related illnesses. Wash your hands and surfaces often. Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meats away from other prepared foods. Cook foods, especially poultry, to the proper, safe temperatures (internal temperature for turkey should be 165° F). Don’t leave prepared foods out longer than two hours; refrigerate leftovers promptly.
- Prevent injuries. There is a high risk of injury during the holiday season. Use sturdy step stools or ladders rather than furniture to put up decorations. Don’t leave fireplaces or candles unattended. Test the working condition of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Wear appropriate clothing and shoes for the weather to avoid falls and to stay dry and warm.
Enjoy spending quality time with loved ones, reflect on the things that matter most to you, be thankful for your blessings and appreciate the gift of health. Be happy, healthy, safe and blessed during this holiday season – and beyond!
Grand Canyon University’s College of Nursing and Health Care Professions offers academic degree programs that help future health care professionals learn about wellness and healthy living. Learn more about these programs by requesting more information.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Family Health. (2014). Holiday Health and Safety Tips. Retrieved from cdc.gov/family/holiday
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.