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Published on December 28, 2018

Healthy Holidays: Safety, Fitness and Post-Holiday Blues

Healthy Holidays: Mindfulness, Family History and Leftovers

In this Fox 8 House Call series, Cone Health experts explore staying healthy around the holidays, including:

Safety and Injury Prevention Tips

A lot of accidents happen during the holidays because we get distracted or are too excited to act intentionally and carefully. Small children especially can get lost in the hustle and bustle of a family gathering and hurt themselves. Luckily, many of these injuries can be prevented with some planning, preparation and a little extra caution.

Common injuries seen around the holiday season include:

  • Burns – Candles, fireplaces and stove tops are the most common culprits. Keep a close eye on children near hot surfaces and don’t leave any flame unattended.
  • Cuts – Be careful when using scissors or a sharp object to open gifts and packaging. Have a broom and dust pan handy to sweep up broken glass.
  • Choking hazards – Small decorations and toys can be a choking hazard for kids. Keep toys with small parts away from young children.
  • Falls – Make sure any cords are tucked away and don’t create a tripping hazard. Try to keep the pathway clear of toys and gift packaging that may cause a fall.
  • Food safety – Wash hands before handling food. Refrigerate and store food within 2 hours of serving to prevent foodborne illness. Stored leftovers are generally only good for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

While not as common as other injuries, electric shock can cause serious harm. Be careful handling Christmas light cords and replace any that are damaged. If someone does sustain a minor cut or burn, don’t panic. Clean the area and apply pressure to the cut or ice to the burn until the pain subsides. A cut should stop bleeding after half an hour of pressure.

We all have an idea of what our perfect holiday looks like, but sometimes the unexpected happens and changes our plans. If a minor injury does occur, don’t let it ruin your celebration. Prepare for the unexpected as much as you can, learn to laugh off things that don’t go according to plan and enjoy time you get to spend with loved ones. If you are experiencing a nonlife-threatening illness or injury and do not suspect the need to be admitted to a hospital, visit an urgent care center. If a serious injury does occur, call 911 and visit the nearest emergency department.

Kurt Lauenstein, MD, is a family medicine specialist at Cone Health Urgent Care Center at Greensboro and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. He completed medical school at the University of Vermont and his residency at The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital.

Get Back on Track with Exercise

Following a fitness routine can be beneficial to your overall well-being because physical activity can help prevent disease, build self-esteem and serves as a great method for stress management. One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is getting healthy and exercising regularly, but why wait until the new year to get started? Everyone can benefit from regular exercise, but getting started can be one of the hardest parts.

The health and fitness specialists at Cone Health recommend making SMART (Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely) goals when beginning an exercise program. Understand where you are and create goals based on what works in your schedule and for your body. Set short-term goals, like first training for a 5K event, which will help support and build momentum toward your long-term goal of running a half marathon. Other, practical ways that can help you create a habit of exercising include:

  • Do something fun – Finding physical activities that you enjoy will help you stay motivated and committed. Whether it’s Zumba, yoga or running, find what you like to do and do it!
  • Plan for it – Set time in your schedule for it.
  • Pick a time – Do you prefer working out in the morning or after work?
  • Prepare – Lay out the clothing you plan to wear and have everything you take to the gym ready to go so you can get moving.
  • Find accountability – It can be a friend or a personal trainer, but having someone who will encourage and motivate you can keep you on track.

Today’s biggest barrier to exercise is often time limitations. Luckily, when it comes to exercise, every little bit counts. When you don’t have time to spend an hour in a class or at the gym, find a 10-minute routine you can do at home. There are a variety of exercises that require little to no equipment, like wall sits, wall push-ups, standing crunches and jumping jacks. If you aren’t sure where to begin or would like more guidance on your workouts, contact a personal trainer. They can help you get started and make sure you’re practicing proper form to avoid injury.

Joni Garrett is a health fitness specialist with Cone Health. She received her Bachelor of Science in exercise sports science from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is also an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer.

Be Aware of Post-Holiday Blues

Every person has an idea of what the perfect holiday season looks like for them, but too often we push ourselves to reach this ideal and are disappointed when we fall short. The feeling of sadness, loneliness, anxiety or depression in and around the holiday season is known as “the holiday blues.” The stress of achieving perfection, even if it’s for good reason, can wear us out even before the holidays are over and last until the new year.

There are many potential stressors during the holiday season that can make it less than ideal, but if we accept that nothing will be perfect and plan for how to manage our expectations, it can still be a positive experience. To help prevent the holiday blues this year, consider the following tips:

  • Practice self-care – Schedule time for yourself during the season. Give yourself time to relax, reflect or celebrate the season in whatever way you want. Make yourself a priority.
  • Be realistic – Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by expecting the holidays to be perfect. Life isn’t perfect. A good-enough celebration can still be full of what you love. If you need a break this year, a good plan may be to spend more time alone and taking care of yourself.
  • Make room for feelings – If you’ve lost someone this year or if the holiday season is difficult, allow yourself to grieve and feel. Don’t feel pressured to feel only happiness during this time when you may have conflicting feelings.

Many parents put pressure on themselves to make the holidays magical for their children. Kids may have expectations for the kinds of gifts they want, but they are more likely to remember the moments you spent together and the holiday traditions you enjoy as a family more than anything else. The holiday blues aren’t as common in kids because they don’t feel the same burden of making things perfect. Instead, children may start to get bored and anxious to get back to school and their everyday schedule.

If you do get the holiday blues, getting back into your daily routine normally helps you move on and get back on track. For some, the holiday blues can lead to depression that doesn’t go away. If you experience these symptoms and they do not dissipate once you return to a normal routine, reach out to a counselor, psychiatrist or behavioral health specialist for help.

Kim Hoover, MD, is a psychiatrist who is board certified in child and adolescent psychiatry with Cone Health Outpatient Behavioral Health and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. Hoover completed medical school at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. She completed her residency in psychiatry at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and her fellowship in child/adolescent psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center.

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