Tips for Healthy Habits During the Holidays and COVID-19 Pandemic

People are starting to make travel plans for the holidays coming up. While holiday season always mean longer work hours and less exercising for busy health care professional because of winter sickness and family gatherings, the COVID-19 pandemic has added an extra lawyer of worry and work. If you are a triage nurse or a staff at a busy hospital or doctor practice, this can also mean that you end up eating candy and treats instead of a meal because you are too busy to stop. Here are some easy tips to help you stay healthy both physically and mentally as you take care of patients during the busy weeks ahead.

  1. Educate Patients on Covid -19 Safety:

Wear a Mask to All Indoor Places Outside your Home. Medical professionals already know that according to the CDC, masks offer some protection to you and also individuals around you in case you are unknowingly infected with COVID-19. Remind your patients that wearing a mask is not a substitute for social distancing. It is important to stay 6 feet apart, as well as wear a mask.

Wash Hands Frequently. Hands need to be washed with with soap and water for at least 20 seconds every time someone comes back to their house.  Also use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol after touching surfaces. It is important to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after removing your face mask.  

Items That You Do Not Think of Cleaning Frequently, but Need to Clean – your phone, tv remote, light switches, door handles, steering wheel of motor vehicles, cabinet handles, pillows, throw blankets, laptops, keyboards, and mouses. 

Avoid Travel. The recent CDC guidelines is asking people to not travel during the holiday to avoid spreading Covid to loved ones, especially at risk people. While it is difficult to not see loved ones, consider having a virtual family gathering. You can also safely prepare dishes and deliver them to family and neighbors in ways that do not involve contact (ex. leave them on the porch).

  1. What Else Can You Do to Stay Healthy

Keep Healthy Snacks Nearby. Bring a package of fruit or vegetables from home. Eating veggies and fruit snacks during the day can fill you up and help curb your appetite, which will help you avoid the candy and the treats that start showing up everywhere in the offices and holiday events.

Don’t Forget to Exercise. While being busy can make it tempting to come home and rest, being physically active during the holiday season can help keep stress levels low and make up for some of the eating more than usual. Exercise can also help with stress during one of the most stressful times of the year. If going outdoors is possible, try to sneak in quick 5-minute walks outside. These will get your body moving, and get you the much needed vitamin D.  If going outside is not an option during the day, check out these easy exercise tips that you can do at your office or in-between patients.

Sleep Well. As a rule of thumb, we all need to strive for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. This can be hard if you are ending up staying late at work and you’re going out more during the holidays. The best tip here is to avoid the late-night TV and give yourself small rewards for taking care of yourself.  We often end up sitting longer than we think and it disrupts our sleep. When you’re sleep deprived, you’ll tend to eat more foods that are high in fat and sugar. The rewards can be something fun such as those new shows you have been eyeing or a massage session. The trick here is anything that will get you excited to stop and go to sleep.

Finally, as healthcare professionals, we all know that we should limit alcohol. Not only does it disrupt sleep and can slow you down during exercise, the sugars in the alcohol add up fast. While avoiding alcohol can be difficult with multiple events, try to be creative with a flavored club soda, for example. If you have an alcoholic drink, remember to eat some food with it and focus on the vegetables and healthy options.

A few small changes during the holidays will help you stay strong both mentally and physically, allowing you to enjoy the season and stay motivated. When you start to feel sluggish or tired from the day, remember to eat some healthy snacks, fit in some quick exercises, or get a good night of sleep.

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