Habits for a healthy winter

Ahh, winter and the holiday season – the most wonderful time of the year; and concurrently, one of the most stressful, and accident and illness prone. At the same time we’re celebrating another year in the books, enjoying family, good food and gift-giving, many of us deal with over-packed schedules and overindulgence with a sprinkle of heartache for missed loved ones or financial stress. 

As the joy and sadness ebb and flow this season, remember to take it all in stride and don’t let your health and wellness take a back seat. Focus on keeping on track physically and mentally as much as possible and use the following tips as a guideline:
    1. Wash hands often to help prevent the spread of germs. It’s flu season. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds. And by the way, did we mention it’s flu season? If you haven’t gotten your vaccination yet, consider this easy preventative measure for good health.
    2. Bundle up to stay dry and warm. Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: light, warm layers, gloves, hats, scarves, and waterproof boots.   
    3. Manage stress. Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and out of control. Some of the best ways to manage stress are to find support, connect socially, and get plenty of sleep. Good sleep habits (sometimes referred to as “sleep hygiene”) can help you get a good night’s sleep. Some habits that can improve your sleep health: 
          a. Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends. 
          b. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature. Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom. 
          c. Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime. 
          d. Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
    4. Imbibe in moderation and don’t drink and drive or let others drink and drive.
Health experts recommend no more than one drink per occasion for women and no more than two for men. And if you’ve consumed alcohol, don’t get behind the wheel. Whenever anyone drives drunk, they put everyone on the road in danger. Choose not to drink and drive and help others do the same.
    5. Be smoke-free. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Smokers have greater health risks because of their tobacco use, but nonsmokers also are at risk when exposed to tobacco smoke. Need help quitting? You're not alone. Find resources here.
    6. Fasten seat belts while driving or riding in a motor vehicle.
Always buckle your children in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt according to their height, weight, and age. Buckle up every time, no matter how short the trip and encourage passengers to do the same.
    7. Practice fire safety. Most residential fires occur during the winter months, so don’t leave fireplaces, space heaters, food cooking on stoves, or candles unattended. Have an emergency plan and practice it regularly.
    8. Prepare food safely. Remember these simple steps: Wash hands and surfaces often, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to proper temperatures and refrigerate foods promptly.
    9. Eat healthy, stay active. It can be easy to go into hibernation mode as the temperatures plummet, but remain committed to staying active. Even as little as 2½ hours of physical activity a week can help maintain or improve your overall health. Help kids and teens be active for at least one hour a day.
    When it comes to your diet, eat as many fruits and vegetables, which pack nutrients and help lower the risk for certain diseases, as possible. Enjoy and apple before your holiday work party to curb your appetite and indulgence of unhealthy choices. If you’re hosting a party, offer your guests plenty of healthy, whole food options along with those sweat treats. Get more healthy lifestyle tips here.
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