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Stay healthy to achieve joy & good cheer

Stay healthy to achieve joy & good cheer

Dec. 4, 2023

What do you want this holiday season? Peace and goodwill? Time with family and friends? To give and receive gifts? Good health?
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.
This week, it’s time to observe both National Influenza Vaccination Week and National Handwashing Awareness Week.
The messages are pretty simple: 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 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 bedtime, 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.
Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night. This should be a goal year-round, but it also helps when dealing with 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 2024.
Alcohol is another area where it’s good to exercise moderation. It adds 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 or loneliness from feeling left out of festivities or missing loved ones who are no longer with us.
Avoid setting unrealistic expectations. 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 might be the answer. Other problems might require counseling. If things get really bad, the National Suicide Hotline is only three digits away: 988.
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.

Mary Wade Burnside is the public information officer at Monongalia County Health Department.





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