Peter Reisner, M.D.
Family Medicine, Primary Care
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The holidays are a wonderful time for family, friends and celebrations. But winter can take a toll on your physical and mental health, even during the festivities.
So what can you do to stay healthy this winter?
Winter may be a good time for hot cocoa and cider, but always make water your drink of choice. While hot beverages can be great for warmth, remember to keep it balanced with at least 8 cups of water per day. A glass of water with and between each meal can keep you hydrated, healthy and ready to fight off any germs winter may bring.
Over-the-top holiday excursions can be stressful, which isn't how you should feel in this joyful season. Focus on your holiday traditions — don't worry about the rest. Make time for friends, family and good cheer, and embrace relaxation when you can.
Don't neglect the value of sleep. Do all that you can to stick to your typical sleep schedule, even around all the celebrations and traveling. Avoid or limit caffeine, alcohol, daytime napping and large meals before bed. These factors can interfere with a good night's rest.
Remember headwear that fully covers your ears, wear mittens rather than gloves and pull on well-insulated socks when dressing for the weather. Instead of wearing one big coat, dress in several layers of loose, warm clothing. This will better protect you against wind, snow and rain. If your clothes become wet, change them as soon as possible.
Limit time in the cold.
Pay attention to weather forecasts and windchill readings. Dress accordingly, but also watch for signs of frostbite, such as red or pale skin, prickling and numbness. Seek emergency help right away if you experience any signs of hypothermia, including intense shivering, slurred speech, loss of coordination or fatigue. You can avoid these cold-weather hazards if you take measures to protect yourself against the cold, such as packing an emergency supply kit and warm clothing while traveling.
Cold air sometimes can discourage you from keeping up with your fitness routines. It's easy to let these habits slide for the season, but remember that regular activity can keep you healthy, both mentally and physically. Choose an indoor exercise if the temperature is below zero or the windchill is extreme. Workout apps or online exercise programs are great tools to get you moving in the comfort of your home. If you prefer to exercise outside, dress appropriately. Too many layers can make your overheat, so choose layers you can easily remove.
Keep the germs away.
Three words: Wash your hands. This is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading common winter illnesses, such as colds. Germs accumulate through nearly everything you do or touch, so wash your hands frequently. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, scrubbing all surfaces and rinsing well. Also, get flu and COVID-19 vaccines to avoid being sick during the coldest time of year.
Following these tips can ensure you have a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.