Tips For A Healthy Holiday Season

The holiday season is supposed to be joyous, fun and happy. But it can also be stressful. The nation’s emergency physicians want to remind all Americans to keep your stress in check.

“For many, including emergency physicians, the holidays come with a daunting pile of obligations,” said Dr. Jay Kaplan, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “Don’t overdo it, because you can damage your health and possibly wind up spending the holidays in the emergency department.”

One particular concern is known as “holiday heart” syndrome. It is an irregular heartbeat that occurs in people who are otherwise healthy. It can be the result of stress, lack of sleep, excessive alcohol or caffeine ingestion, and/or dehydration. Emergency physicians say this is more common during the holiday season because of holiday parties and other events. If an irregular heartbeat lasts for longer than a few hours, you should seek medical attention or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

A long to-do list of decorating, buying presents and hosting parties can be overwhelming. It is important to pace yourself, whether it’s eating and drinking or shopping.

Much like the “Twelve Days of Christmas” here are the “Twelve Tips For A Healthy Holiday:”

#12 — Exercise: This is extremely important. Go to the gym, take regular walks or run. Make sure you stay active to help reduce the stress level.

#11 — Watch Your Diet: People tend to eat more quantities of rich foods during the holidays. It’s okay to indulge occasionally, but do it responsibly and in moderation.

#10 — Wash Your Hands, Cover Your Mouth: Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean it’s still not cold and flu season.

#9 — Get a Medical Checkup: If you haven’t had one recently, the holidays might be a good time to visit the doctor and have a routine physical.

#8 — Limit Alcohol Drinking: Excessive alcohol drinking can put stress on your heart and other organs, act as a depressant and cause several serious problems.

#7 — Don’t Drink and Drive: Just because you think you’re okay to drive away from that Christmas party doesn’t mean you are in good shape. Get a designated driver or choose not to drink…period.

#6 — Be Organized: Have a plan, make a schedule and do it one step at a time. Do not wait until the last minute to do everything.

#5 — Be Cost Effective: Given the current economic times, no one can blame you for spending less. Keep it simple. Excessive spending can add to stress.

#4 — Ask for Help: You can’t be expected to do everything yourself. Ask for help when it comes to shopping and decorating, as well as other tasks. And if you start to feel anxious or depressed, ask for help for yourself!

#3 — Sleep: You shouldn’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep, as well as daily down time. Take a nap, take time for yourself, reenergize and relax. Your body will thank you for it.

#2 — Don’t Smoke: Whether it’s the holidays or not, it’s just terrible for your health and you should stop now.

#1 — Let It Go: Like the famous song from the film “Frozen” says, just “let it go,” meaning the world won’t end if you don’t live up to every expectation you set. The holiday season is about spending time with family and friends. Prioritize the important things.

“If you feel chest pain or think you are having a heart attack, call 911 or seek emergency care right away,” said Dr. Kaplan. “Don’t postpone treatment because you don’t want to spoil the holidays. In the meantime, take care of yourself now, and reduce that stress.”

ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.