Home and healthy for the holidays
So much has happened that has reshaped our world, from the pandemic and inflation to job layoffs and widespread violence around the globe — all of which can take a toll on how we feel physically and emotionally. As we gather with our loved ones at home or travel for the holiday season, it’s important to be mindful of our physical health as well as our mental health and overall well-being.
To help you navigate, here are some ways to prepare for the holiday season and stay healthy while enjoying the most wonderful time of the year.
Catch up on checkups
Often, we tend to think of specific months for important health screenings, such as the month of October for breast cancer or lung cancer awareness month, which is highlighted in November. But now – or anytime at all – is a good time to see your healthcare provider for a checkup so that you know your health status and can get a sense of your overall physical well-being.
Get checked out to ensure that you are healthy or identify ways to possibly prevent particular diseases based on your family history and your current health status. Additionally, with viral diseases such as the flu and COVID-19 still prevalent this season, visiting your healthcare provider can ensure that you are current with vaccinations to help prevent severe illness and possibly missing time and festivities with family and friends.
Being healthy for the holidays also encompasses mental health. It’s important to acknowledge the stressors happening in our lives and find resources available to help address them in a sustainable, healthy way. When experiencing stressful moments, acknowledge how you feel and find something that sings to you (i.e. helps you cope) in a healthy manner for your mind and body. Whether it’s eating one healthy meal a day, taking a break from social media, listening to an audiobook or participating in an activity that you enjoy, these things can be instrumental in keeping yourself healthy and fulfilling your needs.
Should you experience a serious mental health crisis – which can happen at any point in a person’s life – know that you are not alone. There is hope and mental health support available. In fact, Nevada recently joined the nation with the launch of a robust, inclusive mental health crisis line, 988, to help and respond compassionately to those in need.
If you are traveling back home or to another destination to celebrate, research where the nearest urgent care or ER is located. It’s not something we like to think about, yet is important to know ahead of a trip. Should something happen, having this information will help you and your family find care quickly.
Additionally, as mentioned in previous articles, pack plenty of hand sanitizer and sanitizing towel wipes. Clean surfaces around you at the airport, on the plane and in the hotel, wiping down all high-touch areas. I also recommend purchasing a few COVID-19 home test kits. Testing kits can easily be packed in your suitcase or glove compartment for a road trip.
Connecting with our loved ones is definitely one of the best reasons for the season. To ensure that gatherings are as safe and comfortable as possible, communicate with guests ahead of time the expectations when visiting your home, including COVID-19 testing and wearing masks.
For those who are concerned about socializing again, communicate this to event hosts to try to create a mutual solution that will allow all to enjoy. If you feel unsure or uncomfortable about the status of the attendees or will be gathering with someone who is immunocompromised, wear a face mask.
Whether you are enjoying festivities at home or at an event, don’t forget to wash your hands often –– which has always been important. Frequent and proper hand-washing helps ward off germs, stop the spread of disease and prevent illness.
Think of others
Lastly, this holiday season, continue to check in on your loved ones and your neighbors. This time of year can mean different things to different people. Sadly, some might not be able to experience the holidays because of hardships, illnesses or other circumstances.
Let us all continue to be mindful and thoughtful of the overall well-being and health not only of ourselves, but also of members of our broader community as we celebrate the holidays at home.
Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell, M.D., M.S., is a board-certified, family medicine physician practicing urgent care physician based in Reno, where she serves as medical director for community engagement and health equity for Carbon Health and medical director for Saint Mary’s Medical Group. Dr. Curry-Winchell is also a member of the Reno mayor’s task force and Governor’s Medical Advisory Team on COVID-19.