8 Ways for your Patients to Stay Healthy for the Holidays — and Beyond!

During this hustle-bustle season it’s important to remind your patients to stay focused on their health. First, they want to be able to enjoy family, friends, and festivities throughout the holidays. Second, they’ll want to be at their best for whatever the new year brings, like a big vacation or a family wedding. And last, their annual “be healthier” new year’s resolution is already on their mind. The truth is your patients can start fulfilling their resolution to be healthier right now — there’s no need to wait until January!

To help you help your patients, we’ve created a list of 8 great ways to stay healthy for the holidays — and beyond. We’ve written the tips so you can share them with your patients. And guess what? They all apply to you, too!

Wash Your Hands

The top way to stay healthier all the time is simple: Wash your hands! With colds, flu, RSV, and COVID-19 making the rounds right now, frequent hand washing will get rid of most germs that can make you sick. Plus, it prevents germs from being transferred to other surfaces — and to other people. For the best results, use soap and warm water, and dry with a clean towel. When you’re out and about, or if soap and water isn’t available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is a great Plan B.

Get Moving

Exercise at every age is good for your heart, brain, mood, and bones. If you’re not already regularly exercising, start with small changes like taking the stairs or choosing a parking spot farther from the door. Walking is also a terrific entry to exercise. If you’re already exercising, take it up a notch with extra cardio or adding something new to your routine. Remember: Before starting any exercise, it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor.

Get Your Zzzs

Most adults need 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Teens need 8 to 10, and school-aged kids need 9 to 11. Are you and your family getting enough? Sleep impacts everything from mood and concentration to your blood pressure and your heart. Go to bed earlier, keep your bedroom cool, and click off electronics — including your phone and TV — to get a better, more restful sleep.

Focus on Heart Health

Keep your heart healthy at every age! Reducing your risk for heart disease starts with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and managing health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. Eating fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help you lower your triglyceride level and reduce plaque in your arteries, reducing your overall risk for heart disease. Choose lower-fat dairy products like milk and yogurt. Prioritize fish, lean meats, and skinless poultry, or even try eating meatless occasionally.

Power Up Your Food

Eat your superfoods! Superfoods are loaded with vitamins and minerals plus antioxidants that protect your body against cell damage and disease. Superfoods don’t have to be fancy, expensive, or even complicated. The simple blueberry is a superfood VIP packed with fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidant disease-fighters — eat them plain or put them on your oatmeal. Other superfoods to add to your be-healthier menu include: Brussels sprouts, apples, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, chia seeds, and salmon.

Say Yes to Calcium

You know calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth, but it’s also important for your muscles, nerves, hormones, and blood flow. It’s the most abundant mineral in your body, making good calcium intake fundamental for good health. Though milk is a fantastic source of calcium, it’s not the only one that gets an A+ for calcium. A cup of yogurt has at least as much calcium as an 8-ounce cup of milk, and a 1-ounce piece of Swiss cheese rates close behind. Pack even more calcium into soups and sides with dark leafy greens like kale and collards. Yes, vegetables have calcium, too!

Stay Hydrated

Drink your water! Why water? It’s good for everything from organ health and preventing infections to sleep quality and mood regulation. Don’t wait to drink water until you’re thirsty, because that means you’ve waited too long. Funny enough, thirst can also mask itself as hunger. So especially if you’re watching what you eat, try a glass of water before you reach for a snack. Need more pizzazz in your glass? Flavor your water with lemons, oranges, berries, or cucumbers.

Make Time For You

When your to-do list is jam-packed, it’s too easy to push your own needs to the bottom of the list. To stay happy and healthy you need to make time for yourself. Self-care helps you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, stay focused, and increase your energy levels. Make time to do things that make you happy. Try meditation. Reconnect with an old friend. Go for a walk. Take a timeout to read a book or cuddle a pet. The important thing is to focus on you.

Here’s to happy, healthy holidays and a great start to a healthier new year!

Harry L. Gewanter, MD, FAAP, MACR
MSV President

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and does not constitute health care advice.