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Health Topic of the Month

December: Twelve Healthy Holiday Tips

For some people, the months of December and early January are busier than usual. There are more gatherings, special events, and parties. Some people travel more and others spend more time indoors, shielded from the cold weather. Whatever your activities, US Family Health Plan wants you and your loved ones to have a healthy holiday season. Take a few minutes to read through our healthy holiday tips below:

  1. Wash your hands. Don't underestimate the power of hand washing! Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important things you can do to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Some researchers estimate that up to 80% of all infections are transmitter by hands! While using soap and water is the best way to clean your hands, hand sanitizer can also be used if needed.
  2. Get your flu shot (if you haven't already). Flu season is upon us, but that doesn't mean it's too late for a flu shot. The flu vaccine protects against several strains of seasonal influenza - talk to your health care provider about getting a flu shot.
  3. Sleep soundly. Getting enough sleep (usually between 7.5 and 8.5 hours per night) has many benefits including boosting the immune system, improving memory, and increasing energy. Practicing good sleep hygiene will help ensure that you feel well rested while additionally helping to prevent future sleep problems such as insomnia.
  4. Move (even) more. Staying active helps you sleep better, can help to control weight, and can be a great stress reliever. It's also a surefire way to increase your engergy and brighten your mood. Aim to get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity) and do muscle-strengthening activities 2 or more days a week. And remember, 10 minutes at a time is fine!
  5. Plan active get-togethers. This tip goes with number four above. Incorporate exercise into holiday happenings. This saves time and can be a lot of fun! Why not go for a power walk with your friends instead of meeting for lunch? Try adding a morning hike to your family's holiday tradition.
  6. Manage stress. The research is pretty clear that regular physical activity, having a strong social support, and getting proper nutrition can all help a person successfully manage stress. How do you relieve stress? Do you meditate, exercise, or listen to music? Does a massage make you feel better? Perhaps reading does the trick. Whatever it may be, think about what relieves stress for you and make sure to save time for these activities.
  7. Seek help if you need it. Some people get the blues during the winter months. If you feel down or not like yourself, there's no shame in seeking help.
  8. Feast on fruits and vegetables. There are lots of reasons to eat fruits and vegetables, but during the winter months it can be more difficult to do. This meal planning and shopping tips are helpful. If cost is an issue, check out these tips on eating fruits and vegetables on a budget.
  9. Hydrate. When it's cold outside, we often forget to drink enough water. This, combined with less humidity in the winter months, can lead to dehydration, dry skin, and an itchy throat. Keep hydrated and/or consider using a humidifier - your body will thank you.
  10. Stay warm. Winter months can bring extreme cold. Take precautions (especially if you're travelling) to protect yourself for the cold winter weather.
  11. Travel safely. Whether near or far, by plan or by train, take precautions when you travel. Always have a designated driver if you choose to drink. Avoid distracted driving and only drive when you are well rested and alert. Wear your seatbelt, and properly secure children into car seats or booster seats according to his or her body weight, height, and age.
  12. Remember what the holidays mean to you. Lastly, but most certainly not least important. This time of year means different things to different people. Explore what priorities you have during the holidays and try to focus on those. Many of us would say this is a time for family, friends, and/or service to others. However, it's easy to get caught up in shopping, eating, and running around. Instead, focus on the people and experiences that you value.