Ask Jill
12.19.2017

How Can I Be Healthier During the Holidays?

As we find ourselves in the middle of the holiday season, it can be easy to be distracted from healthy habits and health choices.  For many of us, that means adding on extra pounds and not getting enough sleep and even getting sick.  Fortunately, there are many tips which can help us continue to make healthy choices so we can enjoy the holidays more thoroughly, feel better throughout, and enter the new year on a positive note.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) shares a variety of tips for better health at the holidays on their website (https://www.cdc.gov/features/healthytips/index.html), including:

  • “Eat healthy, stay active. Eat fruits and vegetables which pack nutrients and help lower the risk for certain diseases. Limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat, salt, and sugar. Also, be active for at least 2½ hours a week and help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day.” Healthier food choices will keep you feeling better year round and it is easy to get distracted from that during the holidays and a bit of fun physical activity for all ages will keep the holidays light and enjoyable.  Get outside and enjoy – take a walk, build a snow fort, go skating or snowshoeing, make snow angels!
  • “Wash hands often to help prevent the spread of germs. It’s flu season. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds.” This is one we may not immediately associate with the holidays, but it is fundamental to good health and particularly important with all the interpersonal interactions during the holidays.
  • “Bundle up to stay dry and warm. Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: light, warm layers, gloves, hats, scarves, and waterproof boots.” Now that winter is upon us and the snow has started to fall, make sure that you and your family are dressed for the weather!
  • “Manage stress. Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and out of control. Some of the best ways to manage stress are to find support, connect socially, and get plenty of sleep.” The holidays often bring an even greater than normal level of stress for many reasons, so be good to yourself and find ways to let that stress go.
  • “Don’t drink and drive or let others drink and drive.” This should go without saying, but it is worth repeating given all of the holiday parties on the calendar.
  • “Be smoke-free. Smokers have greater health risks because of their tobacco use, but nonsmokers also are at risk when exposed to tobacco smoke.” What better gift could you give yourself and your family this year? Quitting tobacco use is one of the most positive steps towards better health you can take, and we can help.  Visit 802quits.org for more information on free resources, including local help based here at NMC.
  • “Fasten seat belts while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Always buckle your children in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt according to their height, weight, and age..” With so many more people on the roads at the holidays and with the distraction we all face this time of year, buckling up is the only way to go.
  • “Don’t leave fireplaces, space heaters, food cooking on stoves, or candles unattended.” While ‘chestnuts roasting on an open fire’ or candles twinkling in the windows may lend traditional holiday ambiance, they also carry an increased level of risk for a fire in your home.  Please take extra caution this time of year.
  • “Prepare food safely. Remember these simple steps: Wash hands and surfaces often, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to proper temperatures and refrigerate foods promptly.” There can be such joy in preparing meals together at the holidays as long as you keep food safety in mind.

Enjoying good health can make the holidays so much better, as no one wants to miss the fun due to illness.  I hope sharing these tips helps remind you to keep your health in mind during the busy holiday season.  You are worth it.  Check out www.RiseVT.com where the calendar for the free winter show up events is now available and includes everything from yoga to dancing to skating to snow shoeing to nerf games! As a gift to yourself and your family, join in on the fun with all of us in our community on our journey to a healthier future through simple healthier choices and habits. Doing so will make the holidays more enjoyable and help you start the new year on a healthy note!

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer