Keeping it “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
How to Stay Healthy on Winter Break!
From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
by Kirsten Falcone, RN
It’s mid-December, and you finally made it to winter break. Congratulations! While you’ve earned the right to celebrate after cramming for finals, there’s one more fact you should learn: Students are often more susceptible to illness during the holidays because of the considerable amount of stress they endure during the end-of-semester rush. Bummer, right? No one wants to be sick during the “most wonderful time of the year”. Luckily, there are some ways that can help you avoid feeling down and out during break.
Here are 11 tips to help you fight off holiday illness:
1. Maintain proper hygiene by washing hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, and covering your sneezes and coughs.
2. Drink enough water. Try to drink at least 64 to 96 ounces (or more) per day or the equivalent of four to six 16-ounce bottles of water, or eight to 12 8-ounce glasses of water. Another way to measure is to drink 50 to 100 percent of your weight number in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., drink 75 to 150 ounces of water every day.
3. Manage your stress by not over-scheduling, sticking to a budget for gifts and entertainment, and avoiding negativity. (e.g., watching too much TV news, letting a negative relative influence you, negative self-talk)
4. Catch up on your sleep by going to bed at the same time each night. After all, you will not have to study for any tests! Try to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
5. Stay warm and dry, and dress in layers.
6. Eat healthfully, and avoid too many sweets. It is possible to take only one cookie or to save room for your favorite dessert, and forego having a slice of each one. Also, when you are consuming a large meal, eat your veggies first.
7. Exercise wisely. Even in the winter months, exercise is important to maintain a healthy body and brain, and it keeps your immune system strong. It might be safe to go for a walk each day, but then again, there could be ice or snow in your way. Use proper footwear or exercise indoors if possible.
8. Do not smoke or vape. Smoking exacerbates respiratory illnesses, and it lowers resistance to illness and disease. Even though vaping does not contain the tar in a traditional cigarette, it is still a danger to your health. If you smoke or vape, it is pertinent to your long-term health to quit now. You will never regret that decision!
9. Be wise when drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol is generally not healthful. In fact, the only alcohol recognized as beneficial is one glass (five ounces) of red wine per day for women (two for men). If you do happen to drink beyond what is considered healthful, here are some guidelines to follow: One drink per hour is all your liver can metabolize. One drink is defined as five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or one ounce of liquor. In order to maintain fluid levels, drink eight ounces of water per hour also. (This will also help ward off a hangover the next day.) Don’t binge drink, which is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as imbibing five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, in a two-hour period.
10. Take time for down time. Make certain this involves praying, listening to music you enjoy, thinking positive thoughts, a hobby you love, and/or spending time with someone you enjoy.
11. Be a blessing to others. Remember, holiday time is not all about you. The more you give of yourself, the more blessed and healthy you will be. Go caroling, visit an old friend or a nursing home, smile at and hug your negative relatives, and go to church. Do something good for someone else. Spiritual health and physical health are not two separate entities; they complement each other!
The Wellness Center wishes you a very healthy and happy Holiday Season and New Year!
If you read this article to the end, and you would like to enter the Hilbert College Wellness Center monthly drawing, stop by the Wellness Center between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, or send me an email with a brief description of what you learned, at email@example.com.
For more information on managing your health during the holidays, visit these Web sites:
CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)