The holidays are often accompanied by a cornucopia of potential health woes, from the cold and flu to stress and anxiety. As we roast the turkey, hang the stockings and trim the tree, it is important to be mindful of things you can do to stay healthy, and merry, as you shop, travel and celebrate.
Sleep. The holidays are a buffet of to dos. We often run, plan and schedule to the point of exhaustion. Those who do not get adequate rest are at a higher risk of catching a cold. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who slept at least eight hours nightly were about three times less likely to catch a cold than those who snoozed for less than seven.
Relax. Holidays can feel like one long roller coaster ride. When feeling overwhelmed, take five minutes to breathe deeply. Close your eyes and breathe in through your nose to a count of four, hold your breath for a count of two, breath out through your mouth for a count of four; repeat.
Exercise. Incorporate exercise into daily trips by taking the stairs or parking a little further away from the store entrance. Remember, a moderate and daily increase in exercise can help partially offset increased holiday eating and subsequent weight gain. A 10-15 minute brisk walk twice a day may just be the perfect tonic for the stress and anxiety we all experience during this season.
Snack Wisely. Eat sweets and carbs in moderation and beware of liquid calories like soda, fruit drinks, and caloric mixers. If having a drink, alternative between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and always drink in moderation. Stay well-hydrated, it is important to keep the mucus membranes moist so they can help ward off illness.
Give a Wipe. When traveling, visiting or shopping, be sure and clean armrests, shopping cart handles and anything you might touch that could transmit germs. The germs that get on our hands are the single biggest threat to your health any time of year.
Beware of Stress. While most of us recognize the need to maintain emotional, physical and mental health, it is often far more difficult to preserve them during the holiday season. Occasionally, despite the best efforts to prevent stress and depression, you or a loved one may experience persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, irritability or hopelessness. Those feelings may be accompanied by physical complaints, sleep difficulties or an inability to cope with daily chores or routines. If symptoms of depression last for more than a few days or if substance abuse is a primary coping strategy, contact your primary care provider or mental health professional.
Portneuf Primary Care’s knowledgeable staff would like to wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season. We are here if you need us.