Health Tips for the Busy Holiday Season

Holiday energy and colder weather are kicking in at places throughout the country, leaving people more vulnerable to colds and flus. Planners who miss a day or more of work often find their progress on events and other projects is derailed, but they can avoid this problem by taking a few basic steps.

Many medical experts say that a cold or flu can be contagious 24 hours before people start to feel its symptoms. Although a flu shot can reduce the chance of getting the flu and limit its severity, people can still get sick if they have an unhealthy lifestyle, triggering a cold—and no cold vaccine exists.

Here are some easy tips to prevent getting sick this winter.

Flu Shot or Nasal Spray?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved a flu shot and nasal spray (FluMist) this year; however, the nasal spray has many health restrictions. It’s best to talk to a doctor to see if you are eligible for the spray. The flu shot takes about 14 days to take effect, and is less restrictive. Most medical clinics have a flu shot area. Target, CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens and Safeway offer a shot free with most insurance providers.

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Strengthen Your Defenses with This Routine

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds. If this isn’t possible, use hand sanitizer.
  • Cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm, or into a tissue. Throw away the tissue afterward.
  • Get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
  • Practice strength or resistance training twice a week.
  • Sleep at least seven to eight hours each day.
  • Reduce your stress.
  • Eat healthy and drink water.

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Obstacles to Health

Although the holiday season presents challenges to these everyday tips, there are solutions. A few of the tips can be combined or facilitated.

Cold weather and a busy schedule can take time away from exercise. The CDC recommends starting slow and incorporating exercise into the day. Parking farther away than usual or walking on a treadmill count toward the goal. The CDC provides many exercise ideas for those with busy schedules and many winter activities.

Sleeping seven to eight hours might not be for everyone. Having a bedtime routine helps people find the ideal amount of sleep needed. Schedules may be altered due to travel, but preparing for time zone changes helps reduce stress.

Disinfect Often

When going to the next event, don’t forget to sanitize your cellphone. If traveling by plane, Sanitize seats, armrests and the seat tray with disinfectant wipes.

Don’t touch your eyes, nose or lips. UCI Health discovered that the eyes, nose and mouth are where bacterial infections—including the cold, flu, pneumonia, and strep throat—enter.

Staying Healthy During Events

People eat plenty of food—including sweets—during the winter. Germs can spread when people eat foods such as chips, candy, nuts and pretzels out of bowls.

Consumer Reports consulted a registered dietitian and doctor for its story, “Don’t Get the Flu at a Superbowl Party,” and the same guidelines provided in the story apply to the winter season, in general. For example, some gatherings—including end-of-year celebrations and holiday parties—that you attend will offer communal foods or be potlucks. Jeffrey Pellegrino, professor and program director of health sciences at Aultman College in Canton Ohio, stated in the story that people shouldn’t be afraid to avoid a food, or ask for a utensil if none is available.

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