A Better yOU: A Healthy Holiday

Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanzaa are coming up and it’s that time of the year when we all over eat and curl up on the couch to watch holiday movies and drink hot cocoa. It’s also the time of year when sitting on the couch sounds more tempting than stepping outside in the freezing cold and slipping on the icy driveway. With all this excessive eating and sitting around, how can we stay healthy during this time of the year? And how can we stay safe out there in the snowy conditions?

Snack wisely. Those holiday cookies always look good. I would never say to skip the cookies, but eat those sugary snacks in moderation! If you feel you can’t stop after just one cookie, maybe stick to eating some fruit salad or yogurt instead. Cut a smaller piece of apple pie as well! Don’t skip on the desserts, just eat less of them.

Stay hydrated.  When we are cold, our blood vessels constrict as a means of maintaining body temperature. This helps our bodies conserve heat and also increases blood pressure. Our kidneys will then secrete more urine in order to lower the pressure, which means you are eliminating more fluids from your body and becoming more dehydrated. When you are dehydrated, you’re more susceptible to colds or the flu. Keep those mucus membranes moist by drinking the recommended eight 8-oz glasses of water per day.

Avoid long car rides. Or take rest stops along the way. Sitting for a long time can restrict the circulation in your legs. Long car rides (and plane rides) are notorious for causing deep vein thrombosis. DVT is the formation of a clot in one of your deep veins and it is most common in the legs. Symptoms of DVT include swelling and pain in the legs. DVT is taken seriously because it is possible for the clot to travel to your lungs and block the flow of blood (this is called a pulmonary embolism). Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include shortness of breath, dizziness and heart palpitations. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms after traveling far for the holidays, it is crucial that you seek medical attention immediately.

Just relax. We are constantly stressing out during the semester, so why not take those couple weeks after finals to relax. Watch Netflix for a whole day or sleep in. This is your break, so take a break!

Stay active. On top of relaxing, make sure you’re still being active during your time off. Take advantage of the snowy weather and go skiing or snowboarding, or skip the cold weather and go bowling or clean your whole house. You’ll feel a lot better when you return back to school if you’ve done more than sit on a couch for two weeks straight.

Watch out for slippery surfaces.  This is the time of year when a quick trip to the grocery store can put us in the hospital. We can easily slip and fall while walking on an icy surface and break a bone, or hit a patch of black ice while driving and end up in a ditch. Both of these can cause major damage to our bodies. To walk safely on the ice, walk like a penguin. If you keep your center of gravity over your front leg when you walk (like a penguin does), you will minimize your chance of falling. Also, wear shoes that don’t have a smooth plantar surface. Shoes with raised patterns help you grip the ground better. When you’re driving, always wear your seatbelt and make sure you are driving at a safe speed. Yes, this means you may have to drive under the speed limit. Consider staying off the roads during major snowstorms as well.  Whatever you do, stay safe out there!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This article is for informational purposes only. No guarantee made as to the accuracy of this information. If you are in need of medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, contact Oakland University Graham Health Center at 248-370-2341.

Upcoming environmental, health, and wellness events:

  • Neurology Club General Meeting, December 2nd, 12:00pm – 1:00pm, Lake Michigan Room in the Oakland Center
  • Future Pediatricians of America Final Meeting of the Semester, December 3rd, 12:00pm – 1:00pm, Oakland Room in the Oakland Center
  • Student Congress Thrift 2 Gift, December 4th, 10:00am – 4:00pm, Gold Rooms ABC in the Oakland Center