OHS Tips for a Healthy, Happy Holiday and New Year

By Megan Schlesinger, CRTA intern, and Mia Bjelogrlic, nurse I, Occupational Health Services
A man does a pushup as part of an exercise class.

The holiday season is finally here, bringing joy, spirit, and an exciting 2019 New Year. During these fun (and perhaps stressful) times, it’s important to remember some simple habits that can keep you and your family healthy.

Being surrounded by friends and family is one of the most important and memorable parts of the holiday season. Unfortunately, giving and receiving is not limited to gifts—it also includes an array of bacterial and viral infections.

Some, like the influenza virus, are more serious than others. The elderly, the very young, and those who are immunocompromised are most vulnerable. Flu symptoms include fever, chills, sore throat, runny nose, and fatigue. Those with the flu are most contagious in the first three or four days after symptoms present themselves.

The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year. The flu vaccine takes two weeks to kick in, so take that into consideration when scheduling your vaccination. If you haven’t been vaccinated, you can still get the shot at your doctor’s office, local clinic, pharmacy, or even in some schools.

Also, don’t forget to wash your hands! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studies have shown that handwashing can prevent one in five respiratory infections, such as the common cold or flu.

Small Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle

The start of the new year is a great time to set goals for improving overall wellness while also learning to adopt some preventative measures. A more active lifestyle can improve energy levels, mood, and heart health and can even aid in weight loss. Fitness and nutrition goals are also important. However, overly ambitious goals are unnecessary and can end in failure. Try taking small steps and forming a habit instead.

If you’d like to increase your activity level, start by setting aside 10 minutes at least three times each week for an activity that interests you, such as walking or weight lifting. Soon you’ll form a habit that serves as a foundation for a healthy and active lifestyle. Nutritional changes can be handled the same way—start small and build your way up.

A small nutritional change could be drinking one less soda each day or replacing your afternoon vending machine snack with a healthy yogurt. Introducing more nutrient-dense foods to your diet will keep you feeling full for longer while providing the vitamins and minerals that the body needs to perform efficiently.

Finally, creating goals for sleep and bedtime routines can make you happier and more energized. Exposure to blue light (such as the light from your phone) before bed can interfere with melatonin production, which interrupts the healthy sleep cycle. Put down your phone, turn off your television, and pick up a book instead.

OHS wishes you a happy and healthy holiday season!