Sailing Through The Holiday Hustle: Tips For Keeping Safe, Happy, And Healthy This Holiday Season

Snowflake on white snowy background

For many people, the holiday season is a time for all the extras – extended family, overindulgence, parties and trips, and an unhealthy helping of stress.  In the middle of the chaos, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the wonderful moments while staying healthy and happy during the holiday season and all through the new year.

Mindful Wellness Strategies

Not everyone enjoys the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Packed stores, visiting family, and money woes add anxiety. Managing stress during the holidays is essential for maintaining good mental health. If stress becomes overwhelming, seek professional support from a mental health professional.  Here are three tips to help you navigate the holiday season with more ease.

  • Prioritize Self-Care: Take time for yourself amidst the holiday hustle and bustle. Schedule moments for self-care, whether it's reading a book, taking a walk, practicing mindfulness, or enjoying a warm bath. Make self-care a priority to recharge your mental and emotional well-being.
  • Stay Connected: While it's important to set boundaries, maintaining social connections is crucial for mental health. Spend time with loved ones, share your feelings, and seek support when needed. Connecting with others can provide a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation.
  • Practice Gratitude: Take a moment each day to reflect on the positive aspects of your life. Expressing gratitude can shift your focus away from stressors and foster a more positive mindset. Consider keeping a gratitude journal to document things you are thankful for, no matter how small.

Stay Heart Healthy

During the holiday season, particularly between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day, individuals with heart disease or those at high risk of heart-related issues experience a higher incidence of heart attacks compared to other times of the year. Promptly contact your doctor or call 911 and go to the emergency room if you experience any unusual signs or symptoms indicating a potential heart condition. Use these three tips to reduce stress on your heart this holiday season and throughout the year.

  • Scale Back:  Holiday traditions and family time can induce stress, impacting well-being and increasing heart disease risk. Manage stress by avoiding overcommitment, declining invitations when necessary, seeking help, and incorporating activities like short walks, deep breathing, yoga, or meditation for effective anxiety relief.
  • Everything In Moderation: Excessive alcohol harms heart health, causing irregular heartbeat. Moderation is crucial, as binge drinking disrupts cardiac rhythm, even in those without pre-existing conditions. "Holiday heart syndrome" refers to alcohol-induced atrial fibrillation, emphasizing the risk of irregular heart rhythm due to excessive alcohol intake.
  • Keep Moving: Exercise not only alleviates anxiety but also regulates appetite hormones, lowers blood pressure, increases 'good' cholesterol, and supports overall well-being. Aim for 30 minutes of brisk movement at least five days a week, breaking it into 10-minute chunks. Consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Fun With The Little Ones

When spending holidays with relatives, it's common to get caught up around the TV and kitchen. Consider these three tips to ensure your kids stay engaged, active, and well-behaved during the festivities.

  • Encourage Unstructured Outdoor Play: Allow your kids the freedom to explore and play in the outdoors without a rigid schedule. Unstructured playtime fosters creativity, imagination, and physical activity. Whether it's a simple game of tag, exploring nature, or building snowmen, this time outside helps them unwind and positively channel their holiday excitement.
  • Schedule Breaks for Walking or Running: Break up the indoor routine by incorporating short breaks for physical activities like walking or running. This not only provides a healthy outlet for energy but also contributes to their overall well-being. A brisk walk around the neighborhood or a short run in a nearby park can refresh their minds and keep them active, promoting a more balanced and enjoyable holiday experience.
  • Promote a Healthy Balance: While the allure of holiday treats and indoor activities is strong, it's essential to maintain a healthy balance. Encourage your kids to enjoy festive treats in moderation and balance indulgences with nutritious options. Establishing this balance not only supports their physical health but also helps prevent boredom, ensuring that they remain engaged and well-behaved when spending time indoors with relatives. Consider incorporating fun and healthy snacks into the holiday mix to make the balance enjoyable for everyone.

Holiday Health

Beyond the holidays, ‘tis the season for influenza, COVID, and RSV.  Get ahead of any booster shots and keep an eye on the news. Use these three tips this winter and all year to stay healthy.

  • Get Boosted And Immunized: Prioritize getting your immunization or booster shot well before the holidays to ensure optimal immune response. The protection gained typically lasts for at least two months, reducing the risk of flu, COVID, and RSV transmission.
  • Stay Informed and Mask Up When Necessary: Stay updated on local COVID levels and follow CDC recommendations, especially in high-risk areas. Wearing masks not only helps prevent COVID transmission but also safeguards against RSV and flu, particularly beneficial when hosting or attending events with immunocompromised or elderly individuals.
  • Prioritize Hand Washing: Reestablish the habit of regular handwashing to prevent the spread of infections. Despite improvements in the pandemic situation, thorough handwashing remains an effective measure against flu, COVID, and RSV during the holiday season. 

Stay Safe on The Roads

The holiday season is a peak time for drunk driving and related crashes. This danger extends to both buzzed and drugged (high) driving. Ensure your safety and that of your loved ones by making sure your driver stays sober. Try these three tips and stay safe on the roads.

  • Don’t Drink And Drive: New Year’s Eve holds the highest rate of alcohol-related traffic crash fatalities in the U.S., according to NHTSA’s Fatality and Injury Reporting System (FARS). Plan for a sober driver, call a cab, or use a rideshare to ensure a safe journey home before attending any event.
  • Stay Alert: Drowsy driving is as perilous as drunk or distracted driving. Before heading out start well-rested. If drowsiness sets in, take a break or share driving duties. If near your destination, park and use a cab, ride-share, or a friend for a safe pick-up.
  • Safe Kids: Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of child fatalities. Ensure children are securely buckled with age-appropriate car seats and boosters. In cold weather, avoid bulky clothing that hinders harness tightening. Buckle the child in first and then use a coat or blanket for warmth in the car.

Everyone’s experience during the holidays is unique, keep these suggestions in mind and tailor these tips to suit your individual needs.  Happy holidays!