The holiday season sneaks up faster and faster each year, doesnt it? When time is flying and your to-do list is growing, dont forget to keep your physical and mental health and your familys a top priority – itll make the holiday season much more enjoyable.
Air travel is set to hit record highs this Thanksgiving, up 2.5 percent from last year. There are over 27 million people passing through domestic airports over the next two weeks, and countless more on the road. With so many people running around, passing through high traffic areas and preparing for the holidays, its worthwhile to take these extra steps to keep you and your family safe and healthy this season.
Here are seven holiday health tips to help get you through the festivities of the season:
Get a Flu Shot
Many health insurance providers provide preventative care benefits such as flu shots for free or for minimal fees. According to the CDC, getting an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. The CDC is also only recommending injectable flu shots this year, so opt for a shot instead of a nasal spray vaccine.
Wash Those Hands Often
Whether we like it or not, germs are lurking everywhere – especially in high traffic places like public restrooms and airports. Washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds and rinsing with clean running water is one of the easiest steps to avoid getting sick and reducing the spread of germs both at home and in public areas.
Cover Your Cough the Right Way
Using your hands to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze may have been acceptable when you were a kid, but dont get caught doing that now. For years, health experts have been recommending people cover their mouth or nose with a tissue, quickly dispose of it and vigorously wash their hands afterwards. If you dont have a tissue handy, the second best etiquette is to cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow instead of directly on your hands to avoid contagion.
Do Holiday Travel Safely
If youre hopping around to many merry holiday parties, be sure to let a designated driver take care of transportation. Never drink and drive. Always wear a seat belt when in a vehicle and make sure all child safety seats are properly installed. Did you know nearly half of all child car seats in the U.S. are installed improperly? Fortunately, many certified technicians can inspect if your child car seat is properly installed free of charge. You can search for a local inspector in your area using the safercar.gov website.
Avoid Accidents and Injuries
One of the most common accidents during the holidays are falls, usually from hanging decorations. If youre decorating your house, use a step stool instead of climbing on furniture, and have another adult spot you for safety. Also be careful to avoid accidental fires in and around your home. Keep candles away from children, curtains, trees, pets and walkways. Never leave candles, fireplaces or stoves unattended. Its also a good time to test and replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home.
Take the Focus Off Food
So much of the holiday season can seem to revolve around constant eating, but it doesnt have to be that way. Instead of spending hours in the kitchen baking cookies or gingerbread houses, plan plenty of activities that arent just about food. Take a walking tour with your friends and family to see festively decorated houses, play board games, collect gifts for a charitable toy drive, etc.
Keep Your Stress in Check
Fighting stress can be a challenge during the holidays. But there are many simple and easy steps you can take to clear you head and lift your mood. For example, try getting some extra sunlight, take a whiff of citrus, put down your electronic devices, listen to your favorite music and get in some exercise. Dont try and aim for perfection during the holidays. Focus on thinking positively, making healthy choices and celebrating with your loved ones.
- The 3 Hs – Happiness, Health and the Holidays
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 Lebeau, Phil, Get ready for a crowded Thanksgiving: Air travel to hit record highs, NBC News, November 2, 2016.
 CDC, Frequently asked flu questions 2016-2017 Influenza season, Centers for Disease Control, November 2016.
 Newman, Jennifer, Nearly half of kids car seats installed incorrectly, USA Today, July 9, 2015.
 Smith, Jacque Wilson, Ouch! Holiday health hazards abound, CNN, November 25, 2015.