The holiday season is a time of celebration, reflection, and fresh starts. This year is an especially important time to talk with your patients about COVID-19 and holiday safety and health.

Here are a few things It’s important to discuss with your patients this holiday season to help you maximize your their health and make a concerted effort at supporting your patients in taking care of their overall health.

1. Educate your patients on COVID-19 holiday safety

Fall and winter celebrations typically include large gatherings of families and friends, crowded parties, and travel that may put people at increased risk for COVID-19.

Some important reminders before celebrations:

  • Host outdoor activities rather than indoor activities as much as possible. If hosting an outdoor event is not possible, and you choose to host an indoor event, avoid crowded, poorly ventilated, or fully enclosed indoor spaces.
  • Host activities with only your circle and in your area as much as possible. If they are not in your circle, invite them to join virtually.
  • Provide updated information to your guests about any COVID-19 safety guidelines and steps in place to prevent the spread of the virus (ex. wear a mask, maintain social distancing, etc.)
  • If you are planning in-person holiday gatherings with people outside of your household, consider asking all guests to strictly avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.

Share CDC’s tips for COVID-19 and holiday safety at gatherings. It is important that patients understand their risks during COVID.

2. Talk with your patients about taking care of their mental health

Mental health is important for all of our patients, no matter their age. The holidays are an important time to remind our patients to take time and focus on themselves and their mental health.

This year has been difficult to say the least, so here are some important tips to share with patients:

To make it easier for physicians to screen patients, the CDC and the American Medical Association developed the Prevent Diabetes STAT toolkit. The toolkit encourages physicians to:

  • Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate
  • Try to eat balanced meals
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Avoid drug use and excessive alcohol use
  • Make time to unwind and do activities you enjoy
  • Talk with people you trust about how you are feeling

It is more important than ever to address mental health with your patients. The CDC offers great resources about mental health and mental health during COVID.

3. Discuss healthy eating and staying active with your patients

It is harder for all of us to maintain our healthy diets and regular exercise routines during the holiday season. Remind them to eat fruits and vegetables which pack nutrients and help lower the risk for certain diseases. Remind them to limit portion sizes and foods high in fat, salt, and sugar.

Patients should be active for 2½ hours a week. Discuss finding ways they can sneak in physical activity into their regular day. Some examples include:

  • Walking for 20 minutes during lunch breaks
  • Dancing in your house
  • Break up exercises into 10 minutes 3 times a day – morning, afternoon, and evening

Keeping patients on their regular healthy routines during the holidays means they will not have to worry about catching up after the season is over.

4. Make health (and COVID-19 holiday safety) a family affair

As you encourage and support your patients in having a healthier lifestyle, it’s also important that they have the support of loved ones as well. Encourage all family members to work together to get healthy.

Suggest that they prepare healthy meals together, do fun physical activities together and spend time connecting as a family unit. That added support system makes it more likely that they will be successful at navigating COVID-19 holiday safety, reinforces the importance of health for the rest of the family, and encourages healthy habits that will last throughout the year.