Boost Your Health This Holiday Season

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Photo by Terri Oda

By: Desiree Thomas, RN, MSN, CCRN, trauma educator and disaster surge coordinator, Long Beach Memorial

For many families the holiday season truly is “the most wonderful time of the year.” School is out, parents take time off of work and families gather to celebrate special traditions. The holidays are a great time of year, but with all the busy schedules, social functions and last minute shopping the holidays can bring on stress. Tis the season to beat sickness by following these five tips to boost your body’s defenses.

• Fend off germs. Family gatherings, airports, travel stops and shopping malls are all places that have a lot of germs. Protect yourself by getting a flu vaccine and wash your hands frequently. Many people have colds or other illnesses during the winter months, so don’t share utensils that you eat or drink with. People can be contagious before they know they’re sick, so even just a sip from someone’s drink puts his or her germs in your body.

• Eat healthy. Holiday foods can be high in calories and low on nutrition. Make it a priority to eat five or more fruits and vegetables a day (choose the whole fruit instead of juice so you feel full longer and avoid added sugar). Carry an apple or a bag of baby carrots so you always have a healthy snack available. Just because you’re on holiday, doesn’t mean your exercise routine should be. Exercise gives you energy in addition to burning calories.

• Relax. Even things we look forward to, like parties or gifts, can come with worries attached. “Can I afford this shopping?” “Will my family like it?” If you feel stressed out, stop what you’re doing for just a moment. Take five deep breaths and concentrate on each breath as you inhale and exhale. Then go back to what you were doing. Take what happens in stride and keep a positive outlook – it could leave you with some great stories to tell.

• Beat the blues. Holiday depression is real for many people. For some, it’s seasonal, brought on by shorter days, longer nights and colder weather. Other people may be going through difficult life events and the holidays add to the stressful reminder. If you feel down, go outside, sunlight and exercise are great mood lifters. Try a seasonal activity to put you in the holiday spirit, like ice skating or neighborhood caroling. And don’t hesitate to talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling.

• Get some sleep. Getting 8½ to 9 hours of sleep a night during the holidays can help strengthen your immune system, give you more energy, and make you less vulnerable to stress.

One of the top things to do for your health is to get out and have fun. Forget about the tough stuff for a while. Laugh and enjoy yourself (but always keep your safety in mind) – The holidays only come once a year.

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