It seems like just yesterday summer was on the scene, bringing warm weather, family vacations and an array of outdoor sporting activities. However, winter will be here soon, with the season starting in the Northern Hemisphere on December 21.
You might not have experienced a snowfall yet in this latter half of 2021, but the holidays are right around the corner. That means it’s not too early to start putting some plans in place to keep yourself safe and healthy this holiday season.
1. Avoid prolonged exposure to extreme cold
Slinging snowballs and showing off your ice-skating skills is a good way to stay active during the winter, but don’t leave areas of your skin exposed to the cold for long periods of time. Dress appropriately – layers of clothing, a coat, hat, gloves, scarf and some sort of ear covering – and monitor your body temperature to prevent hypothermia or frostbite.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. Similarly, frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas and can permanently damage areas of the body, including the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes. The agency recommends listening to weather forecasts regularly and checking your emergency supplies whenever a period of extreme cold is expected.
2. Make moisturizer a part of your daily routine
Cold air has the ability to cause the skin to dry out, leading to issues such as cracking, itchiness, chapping and redness. Consider trying at least a few of the following tips to prevent dry winter skin:
- Moisturize right after washing
- Apply sunscreen daily
- Use overnight treatments
- Adjust your skincare routine
- Use a humidifier
- Dial down the temperature
- Go easy on exfoliants and scrubs
- Try adding occlusives to your routine
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated
- Opt for non-irritating fabrics
- Wear gloves
3. Practice good nutrition
Following a healthful diet can be especially hard during the holiday season when parties and extended family get-togethers are common. By planning ahead, though, you can make better food and drink choices.
Consider making healthy substitutions for ingredients if you’re cooking or baking traditional holiday recipes. Don’t go to a holiday party or meal on an empty stomach, and offer to bring a healthful dish along with you. Stay hydrated, and stick to calorie-free drinks, such as water, tea or seltzer. Wine, beer and mixed drinks range from 150-225 calories.
4. Don’t forget your flu shot
Along with being the most effective way to prevent flu outbreaks, flu vaccination has many other benefits. Among them:
- Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with the flu.
- Flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.
- Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization.
- Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with certain chronic health conditions.
- Flu vaccination helps protect pregnant people during and after pregnancy.
- Flu vaccines can be lifesaving in children.
- Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you.
5. Try not to overschedule
Overscheduling can contribute to many compounding physical and mental health problems. In addition, the stress and busyness that accompany overscheduling yourself may lead to insomnia, which in turn can result in negative consequences such as:
- Increased risk of causing or being involved in accidents
- Difficulty regulating your impulse control and behavior
- Engaging in risky behaviors
6. Decorate safely
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission offers the following recommendations for safe holiday decorating:
- Place tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources.
- Do not block doorways.
- If you buy an artificial tree, look for a statement specifying that it’s fire-resistant.
- Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety.
- Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
- Turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when you leave the house; lights could short and start a fire.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.
- For menorah candles:
- Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens.
- Always use non-flammable holders.
- Keep candles away from other decorations and wrapping paper.
7. Don’t drink and drive
Many individuals don’t intentionally drink too much alcohol at a holiday party and then risk the safety of others by driving home. However, 40% of highway deaths during the winter holidays are alcohol-related. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism lists a few major myths and facts about sobering up:
- Myth: Drink coffee. Caffeine will sober you up.
- Fact: Caffeine may help with drowsiness but not with the effects of alcohol on decision-making or coordination. The body needs time to metabolize (break down) alcohol and then to return to normal. Also, when caffeine wears off, your body will need to deal with post-caffeine sleepiness, which adds to alcohol-induced sleepiness. There are no quick cures; only time will help.
- Myth: You can drive as long as you are not slurring your words or acting erratically.
- Fact: The coordination needed for driving is compromised long before you show signs of intoxication, and your reaction time is slowed. Plus, the sedative effects of alcohol increase your risk of nodding off or losing attention behind the wheel.
- Myth: The warm feeling you get from drinking alcohol insulates you from the cold of winter. When you’re drinking, there’s no need to wear a coat outside.
- Fact: Alcohol widens the tiny blood vessels right under the skin, so they quickly fill with warm blood. This makes you feel warm or hot and can cause your skin to flush and perspire. But your body temperature is actually dropping because while alcohol is pulling warmth from your body’s core to the skin surface, it is also depressing the area of your brain that controls temperature regulation. In cold environments, this can lead to hypothermia. So, wear a coat when it’s cold outside, particularly if you are drinking alcohol.
At Advanced Medical Reviews (AMR), we are all about staying safe and being healthy. Our organization emphasizes continuous quality improvement, innovation and client satisfaction. Learn about the services we offer and our highly qualified nationwide physician network today.
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