’Tis the Season - How to avoid getting sick during the holidays

Tessa Stroehl, RN

The Christmas season has arrived and we are looking forward to spending quality time with loved ones and reflect on what is important. It’s also a time to appreciate the gift of health. But how do we stay healthy during this holiday season? According to the CDC, there are a few tips to follow to support your efforts to stay healthy.

Wash your hands often. Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important steps to take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs. You want to make sure you wash your hands, including underneath your fingernails, with soap and warm water, and rub them together for at least 20 seconds. When needing to cough or sneeze, use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose instead of your hands. If a tissue is not available, use your upper sleeve or elbow.

Stay warm. Cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially in infants and older adults. You want to make sure you stay dry, and dress in several layers.

Manage stress. The holiday season can take a toll on your health and pocketbook. Keep your spending and commitments in check. Balance work, home, and play. Make sure to get support from your family and friends and try to stay relaxed and keep a positive outlook. Take time for yourself and find ways to unwind to avoid getting sick. You also want to make sure you get proper sleep.

Travel safely. It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling across town or halfway around the world, you want to make sure your trip is safe. Make sure you wear your seat belt every time you get into a motor vehicle. Always make sure your child is buckled using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt appropriate for his/her height, weight, and age. Do not drink and drive. There are many options out there for sober rides.

Handle and prepare food safely. When preparing your holiday meal, keep your family and yourself safe from food-related illnesses. Avoid cross contamination by keeping raw meats and juices away from ready to eat foods and eating surfaces. Wash fruits and vegetables before cooking or eating. Wash hands and surfaces often. You will want to make sure your food is cooked to the proper temperatures and do not leave perishables out for more than two hours.

Eat healthy and be active. Enjoy the holiday season the healthy way. Pick fresh fruits over the sweets and candy. You do not need to ban yourself from all of the Christmas goodies, but be cautious to not overindulge and limit yourself to just one or two. Find fun ways to stay active. Incorporate dancing or playing holiday games to keep your body moving. Be active for at least 150 minutes per week with moderate-intensity activity. Help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day.

Have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful, healthy holiday season!

Tessa Stroehl, RN, is the director of Home Health at Benedictine Living Community of Wahpeton.

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