(StatePoint) The holiday season is a joyous time to reconnect with family and loved ones, but it also brings unique health and safety risks, according to doctors, who recommend a bit of extra vigilance to protect yourself and those close to you.
“During the hectic holiday season, it can be hard to carve out time to focus on your wellness. Awareness, along with the adoption of a few healthy habits, can help you and your family enjoy this special time of year in the best of health,” says American Medical Association (AMA) president, Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., M.P.H.
For a healthy, happy season, follow these tips and recommendations from the AMA:
- Vaccination is the best protection against a number of serious respiratory viruses circulating this fall and winter. To protect yourself and your family, get up to date on your vaccines, including the annual flu shot, as well as the updated COVID-19 vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. Vaccines are also available to protect older adults from severe RSV. New tools to protect infants during RSV season include maternal vaccination as well as the monoclonal antibody immunization.
- If you have questions, speak with your physician and review trusted resources, including getvaccineanswers.org.
- Watch what you eat this holiday season. Pay particular attention to labels and avoid processed foods as much as you can, especially those with added sodium and sugar. Drink water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages, and eat nutritious, whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables alongside richer holiday fare.
- If you’re consuming alcohol, drink only in moderation. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines that as up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, and only by adults of legal drinking age.
- Make time to exercise during this busy time of year. A good rule of thumb for adults is at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity. Brisk walks, or even a family trip to the gym, can provide easy and fun ways to get off the couch and elevate your heart rate over the holiday season. If you’re traveling, don’t forget to pack your sneakers!
- Factors like holiday spending and navigating time with extended family can bring on extra seasonal stress. Invest in your mental health and manage stress by getting sufficient sleep, exercising and seeking help from a mental health professional when you need it.
- Make smart choices and plan ahead if you’re driving. In December 2021 alone, 1,013 Americans died in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. Do not under any circumstances drive if you intend to drink. And if you are the designated driver, make a 100% commitment to sobriety.
- Get your New Year’s resolutions started early. Speak with your doctor or health care professional about quitting tobacco and nicotine use, and declare your home and car smoke-free to eliminate secondhand smoke exposure.
“Amid the holiday cheer, don’t neglect your health and safety. By eating well, exercising, and taking necessary steps to stop the spread of respiratory viruses, you can help protect yourself against common seasonal health risks,” say Dr. Ehrenfeld.