Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holiday Season

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • The holiday rush is about to start. Your life might be filled with parties, shopping, family, friends and exhaustion. During this time of year it is easy to overlook our health, to skip meals or opt for the quicker, easier fast food over the home-cooked meal. It is easy to put our life on fast-forward, knowing we can slow down and take a break come January. But all of the added activities and stress that goes along with the holiday season can take a toll on your health. Although not specifically related to sexual health, this week I wanted to share some tips on maintaining your's and your family's health during the holiday season.

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    Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule

     

    "If I only had a few more hours in each day." How many times have you said that to yourself, especially during this busy season. While it is tempting to add a few more hours to the day by cutting back on your sleep, it isn't a good idea. Without the proper amount of sleep your immune system doesn't work as optimally as it should, your stress levels increase and you are more susceptible to catching a cold or the flu.

     

    Choose the Right Foods

     

    Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season and most of us overeat, after all, that is what it is all about - the food. While one day of overeating isn't going to hurt you too much, don't let Thanksgiving be the first day of your "holiday eating." When heading out to a party, eat a few healthy foods first. Eating an apple with peanut butter and a large glass of water will help you feel full so you don't eat as much at the party. When facing a buffet of food, fill your plate with lots of veggies and take small portions of the high-calorie foods that look so good. Small portions will allow you to taste the food without adding on too many calories.

     

    Remember Proper Portions

     

    When choosing foods at a party, it is not only important to pick the healthy foods but is just as important to keep portions appropriate. A general guideline is that meat should be palm size, starches (rice, pasta, potatoes) should be about the size of your closed fist. Keep desserts and sweets to small portions.

     

    Exercise

     

    Who has time to keep up a rigorous exercise schedule during the holiday season? Even with a hectic schedule it is important to keep up a regular exercise schedule. This helps to reduce stress, keep extra weight off and keep you healthy.

     

    Keep Alcohol to a Minimum

     

    Don't forget about adding in calories for each drink you have. Before heading out to a party decide how many drinks you will have and then stick to it - you should limit your alcoholic consumption to no more than one drink per hour to avoid becoming intoxicated. For each alcoholic drink you have, you should drink between 8 and 12 ounces of water. In between alcoholic drinks, drink sparking water or fruit juices. Always remember to not drink and drive.

     

    Wash Your Hands Often

     

    Washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to help prevent the spread of germs and avoid getting sick. Use soap and water and allow the water to run for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use one of the alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

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    Dress Appropriately

     

    For much of the U.S., the holidays also signal cold weather, which can cause serious health problems. Dress in layers so you can add and remove layers to adjust to different temperatures.

     

    Manage Your Stress Levels

     

    Keeping physically healthy is important, but don't forget your mental health. Increased stress can leave you susceptible to illness. Make sure you don't over-commit yourself, if you are over-booked, turn down some invitations. Set aside one night a week to stay at home with your family. Find ways to relax. Spend time with people who make you feel good.

     

    Take Precautions When Traveling

     

    The holiday season is a busy travel season. Not only are airlines booked solid, roads are full of people visiting family and friends. Make sure you always wear your seatbelt and make sure everyone in your car buckles up - especially your children, don't drink and drive or allow someone who has been drinking drive, take frequent breaks when driving long distances. For those in cold-weather areas, watch for icy roads and stay off the roads in extreme weather or snowy conditions.

     

    References:

     

    "Health Today: Staying Healthy During the Holidays," 2010, Nov 22, Kathryn M. Schat, M.D., University of Louisville

     

    "Holiday Health and Safety Tips," Modified 201, Dec 8, Staff Writer, U.S. Centers for Disease Control

     

    "Staying Healthy During the Holiday Season," Updated 2010, Dec. 21, Staff Writer, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

     

     

Published On: November 08, 2011