ADULT & FAMILIESCommunity ServicesHealth Tips   

Stay healthy this holiday season and beyond

We wish you a healthy and happy holiday season, but realize that’s often easier said than done. During this busy and potentially stressful time, we’re surrounded by people, many of whom are coughing and sneezing. Is it possible to ring in the New Year feeling physically and mentally strong? Here are some of our favorite tips:

Wash your hands: Use soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.

Use your sleeve: Growing up, you probably heard this reminder more times than you can count: cover your mouth when you cough (or sneeze.) But if you use your hand to cover your mouth, you’re sending germs onto your hands, which quickly spread to anything (and anyone) you touch. Instead, cough into your elbow, which blocks the germs from spreading in the air, and is less likely to come into contact with other surfaces.

Dress warmly: Layer your clothes to trap warmth near your body. Also, remember to cover your head and hands, and to choose appropriate footwear. In extreme temperatures, frostnip and frostbite can affect bare skin within just a few minutes.

Manage stress: Easier said than done during the busy holiday season. Remember to say no when necessary, to over-committing, overspending and anything else that causes you tension.

Travel safely: A lot of tips in this category: Pay attention to the road. Set down your cell phone. Don't drink and drive. Rest up before a long trip. Pack an emergency travel kit in case of vehicle problems. Buckle up and make sure your children are buckled into properly installed car seats. Take the extra moment to clear snow or frost from your windows before operating your vehicle.

Stop smoking and avoid second-hand smoke: There are a variety of resources to help smokers quit this deadly habit. For non-smokers, it's important to avoid second-hand smoke. Children especially are at risk. Ask smokers to please not smoke around you, especially not in your car or home. If you are near someone who is smoking, open a window.

Get a flu shot: A flu shot helps protect against the flu virus, a respiratory infection that can lead to serious complications, and is blamed for thousands of deaths every year. Young children, pregnant women and older adults are especially at risk for flu complications. It’s recommended that everyone ages six months and older get vaccinated.

Get up to date on check-ups and health screenings: Stay healthy by catching small problems before they become big problems. Well-child visits for kids and blood pressure screenings for adults are important. So are pap smears, mammograms, and screenings for cholesterol, colon cancer and bone density as we get older.

Eat healthy and stay active: This is an important message year ‘round, but some important tips for the holiday season include: at parties, eat and drink in moderation. If you're the host, offer fresh fruits, veggies and other healthy food options; and make sure to practice safe food cooking habits to prevent food-related illness.

Safety check your home: Have you changed the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors recently? Will you be hosting guests for the holidays? If so, look for potential hazards where people who aren't familiar with your home may trip and fall. And if those guests include small children, put away small items that are easily breakable or could be a choking hazard. Use a step ladder and ask for help when hanging holiday decorations in hard to reach places. 

Get some sleep: Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. (And kids need even more!) Yet, at least one third of us aren’t getting enough sleep.  Lack of sleep affects one’s ability to concentrate and remember things. Drowsy driving is blamed for 40,000 injuries and more than 1,500 deaths in accidents each year. Sleep deprivation also has been linked to obesity, and a recent study suggests it also could be linked to mental decline as we age.