Research has shown, over and over, that having people around you is good for your health. All sorts of issues can lead to poorer health in people who are flying solo, especially when they have a chronic condition. People on their own may be more likely to:
- Not eat regularly or get enough physical activity
- Have to face stressful situations without others who can help or listen
- Have trouble remembering when to take medications
- Have difficulty getting to medical appointments when they’re not feeling well
The holidays can be especially challenging if you’re on your own and dealing with health problems. Your doctor’s office may not be open at the usual hours. Getting to the pharmacy may be difficult due to extra traffic from shoppers. Being lonely at a festive time of year can leave you feeling sad or depressed.
That’s why it’s extra-important to safeguard your physical and mental health this time of year. If you have a chronic health problem, now’s the time to:
- Be ready. Make sure you have enough medication in your home to get you through the holidays, in case your doctor’s office or pharmacy is closed or you’d like to avoid having to fight holiday traffic to get a refill.
- Make a plan. If you need regular medical care, talk to your doctor about signs and symptoms that could suggest a problem. Also discuss what you should do if you think you’re having a flare-up of a health condition. When will the doctor’s office be closed? Will a backup doctor be taking calls? Staying informed and ready can prevent an expensive (and unnecessary) trip to the ER.
- Get out. Staying socially active can help you enjoy more holiday cheer. Making more friends and acquaintances also adds to your list of people who might help you if you need a hand. Explore social opportunities with support groups in your area that bring together people with your health issue. Look into volunteer groups; many of these organizations want and need people to share their time and abilities, especially at this time of year. And check to see if your place of worship is offering special activities.
While you’re meeting new people, see if anyone else is also feeling lonely over the holidays. You may find an abundance of company for December – and the coming year!
For even more tips on how to get better health and need the health care system less, check out: The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System by Dr. Cynthia D. Haines, M.D. (Dr. Cindy Haines) and Eric Metcalf, M.P.H.
Published On: November 21, 2012