WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

Tips for a healthy and safe holiday season

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The holidays are a favorite time of the year for many. From sparkling decorations and festive gatherings to scrumptious holiday food and savored time with family, December is often full of joy and celebration.

But amid the hustle and bustle of the season, it can be easy to forget to take care of ourselves. The busyness and stress that often accompany the fun and frivolity make it all the more important that we stay focused on maintaining our health and safety.

This holiday season, Wilson Medical Center wants to help make sure that everyone in our community has a safe, healthy and happy holiday. Here are just a few simple ways to help keep your season merry and bright.

Be Safe

Many common holiday-related injuries can be prevented by thinking smart and being aware of your surroundings.

• At home. Exercise caution when hanging lights and decorations, and place your tree and other flammable decorations away from heaters, fireplaces and candles. Always turn off your decorative lights when leaving the house or going to bed at night, and never leave fireplaces, candles or portable heaters unattended.

• On the go. Always buckle up on the road no matter what, and slow down on roads made slick by rain and winter weather. If you are planning on indulging in a spirited beverage or two, assign a designated driver ahead of time.

BE HEALTHY

There are few things as tempting as a holiday spread at a party. With so many opportunities to indulge, mindful eating is key to maintaining your health. But being mindful doesn’t mean you need to deprive yourself entirely. In fact, healthy holiday eating is easily achievable when you follow these tips:

• Aim for smaller portions of festive treats to help keep you on the right track and guilt-free.

• Plan and prepare healthy snacks and meals ahead of time. If you know you’re going to be partaking in a holiday treat later in the day, prepare a healthy salad with protein for lunch.

• Pay attention to what you’re eating, rather than the “mindless” eating and grazing many of us are guilty of when at a party or at home watching our favorite holiday programs.

• Cook smart. Think of ways to give your favorite holiday dishes and treats a heart-healthy spin, like using olive oil and herbs and spices instead of unhealthy oils and salt. And try substituting Stevia or natural honey for refined white sugar in your holiday baking.

BE HAPPY

The holidays can be a very difficult time for many. The death of a loved one or the pressure to do everything and be everywhere can cause a great deal of stress — not to mention mental and emotional fatigue. If you are experiencing any of these things, consider reducing any added pressures on your schedule. Don’t feel obligated to “do it all.” Instead, try to focus on taking part in meaningful traditions that emphasize the holidays’ spirit of togetherness.

Most importantly, it’s OK to ask for help. You are not alone. If you are experiencing severe stress and depression, consider reaching out to a local support group, or a mental health professional. If you don’t have one, call 800-424-DOCS (3627), and we’ll be happy to connect you to the right care to help you cope with the stresses of the season.

At Wilson Medical Center, we care about your health and well-being during the holidays and throughout the year. We’re thankful to be your neighbor and privileged to help make our community healthier by providing quality care close to home.

We wish each and every one of you a safe, healthy and happy holiday season. Be well.

Laura Lowe is the chief nursing officer at Wilson Medical Center.

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