The last one can be a bit unpredictable, with cold and damp weather, the start of flu season and the stress of trying to achieve the perfect holiday.
But there are steps you can take to ward off illness and to feel your best.
Both National Influenza Vaccination Week and National Handwashing Awareness Week ended Saturday, but the message remains the same: Your best bet to avoid flu is to get vaccinated. Good handwashing with warm water and soap, and other tips such as avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, are also key. If you still haven’t gotten a flu vaccination, you can make an appointment to get one at Monongalia County Health Department by calling 304-598-5119.
And, of course, there are other ways to keep yourself in check so you can avoid getting sick. These tips are good year-round, and we especially want to make sure to observe them now.
First up is get enough sleep. Of course, this isn’t always easy for everyone. To help get enough z’s, be consistent in your bed time, including on weekends. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing and at a comfortable temperature. Also, avoid watching TV or reading on your tablet, laptop or smartphone in bed. Avoid large meals, caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
Another tip for good sleep is also good advice in general. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night. This is also good for dealing with the darker winter days and the extra food we tend to eat during the holiday season.
Speaking of food… of course holidays are a time that many of us indulge. Try not to overdo. Attending a holiday party? Don’t arrive starving. Have a healthy snack before heading out. Do you work in an office where cookies and other treats pop up, especially this time of year? Don’t feel the need to sample each kind. It might taste good but you might not feel so great later.
New Year’s is right around the corner and maybe you are thinking of resolving to lose weight then, but you can still try to avoid packing on pounds in the weeks leading up to 2019.
Alcohol is another area where it’s good to exercise moderation. Of course, too much alcohol over a period of time can damage your health. It also adds a lot of unnecessary calories to your diet. And if you are attending a holiday party or event, don’t drink and drive. If you do plan to have a cocktail or two, make sure you have a designated driver. Or call a taxi or Uber to get home safely.
Taking care of mental health is also important, whether it’s stress from running around trying to get everything done to have a “perfect” holiday, or loneliness from feeling left out of festivities or missing loved ones who are no longer with us.
Avoid setting unrealistic expectations. Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect holiday. Overspending increases anxiety. Planning is also useful: Consider setting aside funds each month to buy presents.
And if you are lonely or struggling, seek help. Sometimes social activity—joining a group or volunteering—might be the answer. Other problems might require counseling. If things get really bad, there is a hotline that provides guidance: The National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Of course, holidays are a time to think about friends and family. But taking care of yourself first is another way to help ensure that it’s a wonderful time of the year.