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Healthy Habits to Start Before the Holidays

Healthy Habits to Start Before the Holidays

Ensuring a Healthy and Happy Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time for family, friends and celebrating. However, it also can be a time of stress, unhealthy eating and skipping workouts.  After the holidays, we're often remorseful for poor habits and may feel a sluggish start to the New Year ahead.

The good news? With some preparation and a change to your daily routine, you can go through the holidays feeling healthy and happy. The health experts at Southwest General Medical Group are here to kick off your holiday season with a few wellness tips you can start incorporating every day:

1. Keep up with regular movement.

From holiday movie marathons to snowy days—there’s nothing better this time of year than relaxing at home with loved ones. However, exercise is a great way to reduce stress and boost your energy levels. It also is vital to ward off illness and keep your joints lubricated.

Exercise doesn't have to mean intense movement—even a brisk walk around the block will do the trick. Here are some tips for starting a new workout routine:

  • Start small and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts
  • Overdoing it at the beginning will only make you more likely to give up later on
  • Find a workout partner or group to help keep you motivated
  • Set realistic goals for yourself, and celebrate each accomplishment along the way
  • Be patient, and don't get discouraged if you don't see results immediately
  • It takes time and consistency to improve your fitness level

2. Eat healthily.

Holiday festivities are full of tempting sugary, high-fat foods, but that doesn't mean you have to indulge in every temptation. Research has shown that cardiac death is almost five percent higher during the holidays than the rest of the year. This is in part due to the foods we're consuming. Fill up on healthy foods like fruits and vegetables first, then enjoy a few holiday treats in moderation.

Additionally, eating a balanced diet can help to boost your immune system, and drinking plenty of water can help prevent dehydration, especially in the cooler months when we may not feel as thirsty.

Food Safety Tips

As the holiday season approaches, people begin to think about all of the delicious food they will get to eat. However, along with all of the holiday cheer comes the risk of foodborne illness. Be sure to follow food safety guidance[1] , and learn the signs of food poisoning so you can seek medical care, if needed.

3. Consume alcohol in moderation.

Whether it’s your office holiday party or a family get together, alcohol consumption typically increases at this time of year. Additionally, many people who spend the holidays alone and struggle with addiction may turn to drinking as a way to cope with the feelings that come with this season. Not only does alcohol consumption lead to chronic health conditions such as heart disease but also it can lead to an increased risk of emergencies due to drinking and driving.

Here are a few ways to manage your alcohol intake this time of year:

  • Plan ahead, and set limits on how much you will drink before going to an event
  • Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Sip slowly and savor your drinks rather than gulping them down
  • Make sure to eat something before drinking alcohol

If you struggle with addiction, it's essential to reach out for help before the holidays. Many resources are available to you, and beginning treatment can help you get through this season sober and healthy.

4. Get enough sleep.

This joyous season also can leave you sleep-deprived between the holiday wrapping and shopping. Lack of sleep can make you more prone to stress and illness. Make sure you get at least seven hours of sleep each night to stay healthy during the busy holiday season.

5. Ramp up personal hygiene.

The holiday season is a great time to catch up with family and friends, but it's also when colds and flu viruses seem to circulate more. That's why it's vital to ramp up your hygiene habits before the holidays.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), December and January are peak months for flu activity in the United States. The CDC also reports that colds are most common during the fall and winter.

You can take some simple steps to help prevent the spread of these illnesses such as washing your hands often, avoiding going out if you feel sick and avoiding close contact with sick people.  Additionally, one of the best things you can do to stay healthy is to get a flu vaccine.

Hand Washing Tips

It's no secret that hand washing is essential for preventing the spread of illness. But just how effective is it? Studies show that hand washing can reduce the incidence of respiratory diseases like colds and the flu by up to 21 percent!

It's not just respiratory illnesses that hand washing can help prevent. Hand hygiene also has been shown to be effective in reducing the incidence of diarrheal diseases and skin infections. One study found that hand washing with soap and water was associated with a 53 percent reduction in diarrheal disease incidence.

With this in mind, be sure to keep up with hand washing advice to avoid being sick during one of the most festive times of the year.

Flu Vaccination Recommendations

The CDC recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a flu vaccine annually. Vaccination is crucial for people at high risk of severe flu complications such as young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions such as asthma and diabetes and people aged 65 years and older.

If you're unsure where to get a flu vaccine, you can check with your doctor or pharmacist. Many employers offer flu vaccines for their employees as well.

6. Take some time for yourself.

As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, many people find themselves feeling a bit down[2]. For some, this is just a “seasonal funk” that will pass after a few weeks. But for others, it may be seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

For others, the holidays can be hectic, and for some, it can be a period of longing or isolation. No matter how you’re spending the holidays this year, make sure you take some time to relax and recharge. Whether it's taking a bubble bath or reading your favorite book, do something that makes you happy and helps you unwind.

Read More: Keeping Your Mental Health Strong During The Holidays

Family Medicine in Middleburg Heights

Making these healthy habits part of your daily routine will help you stay on track during the busy holiday season. And, who knows, maybe you can even convince your friends and family to join you in your healthy lifestyle pursuit!

Southwest General Medical Group is here to work closely with you to ensure you are feeling your best all year. To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, visit our website.