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Sociologist Offers Tips for Happy, Healthy Holidays

December 2, 2015

Margaret Christine Snead

Skip the ER and the drama this year

 By Dr. Margaret Christine Snead

Saint Leo University

The holidays are right around the corner, and we’d like to remind you to take good care of yourself and your loved ones. Grandmother’s advice of all things in moderation still is great guidance.

It is easy to overindulge in good food and plenty of libations during the holidays. While you probably know that eating too much can cause short-term problems like heartburn or an upset stomach, it also can cause long-term issues. For example, you may pack on extra pounds which can contribute to your risks for heart attack/stroke.

Zumba, anyone?

Be sure to get and/or stay active during the holidays. We should all exercise about 2.5 hours a week for optimal health. If you are consuming more calories (Grandma’s delicious homestyle cooking), then you need to bump up your time being active (and decorating the tree shouldn’t count toward your ideal 10,000 steps).

Nobody likes food poisoning

Practicing good food safety tips is also important at the holidays. You want your guests to enjoy their meal – not go home with food poisoning. They will tell everyone for years to come about how you tried to kill them that one year with your cooking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should “wash hands and surfaces often, avoid cross-contamination, and cook foods to proper temperatures and refrigerate them promptly.”

Go light on the bubbly

Hopefully you’ve never experienced a hangover, but that is your body being very unhappy with you and for indulging in too much alcohol. The best and only cure for a hangover is to avoid one in the first place.

If you drink, never ever get behind the wheel. And please make sure that no one else does as well. Your brother-in-law may be drunk and being a jerk, but it is not worth being polite when he is endangering himself and others by getting behind the wheel.

No more drama

Family members may be loved and appreciated, but they also may really know how to “push your buttons.” Stress is another big issue that may present itself during the holidays.

Pace yourself, breathe deeply, and get help when you need it. Try to avoid stress and practice simple things such as getting social support, eating healthy, exercising, and getting the right amount of sleep.

Matters of the heart

The holidays can also be a reminder of loss/sorrow or a time of disappointment. Some people may be inclined to overspend or become worried and stressed about financial matters. Gifts and material “things” may overshadow the joyful experiences and gratitude of the reasons behind the season. Practice non-material acts of kindness, help others, and be sure to remind yourself of the things that you are truly grateful for this season.

Scrub-a-dub, nix the bug

You want to share joy and love during the season, not colds and flu. Protect yourself from the flu. Get a flu vaccination. Protect yourself from many nasty bugs by washing your hands frequently, and while washing with soap, go ahead and sing “happy birthday” to yourself.

Don’t be a Clark Griswold

We all love the lights and magical ambience of the season. Be sure to avoid injuries when you are preparing and decorating for the holidays. Falls from a ladder can send you straight to the hospital or even worse.

The warmth of a fire in the fireplace, the soft glow of a candle, the smell of food cooking on the stove, that industrial turkey fryer that will help you create the masterpiece of the holiday dinner—yikes— may each cause a fire!

Avoid fires, be smart— do not leave any flame unattended, and be prepared (yes, that fire extinguisher may just come in handy this season).

Have a plan

An emergency plan is something that every household should have in place all year long. This is truly a gift that keeps on giving. And just because you have a plan in place– doesn’t mean you’ll need to use it this holiday season. “Don’t shoot your eye out!

Have a safe, healthy, and very happy holiday season.

Dr. Margaret Christine Snead, is an assistant professor of sociology at Saint Leo University, Gwinnett Education Center, Duluth, GA. She holds a doctorate in medical sociology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her areas of research include healthy lifestyles and women’s and global health issues.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University is a regionally accredited, liberal-arts-based institution known for an inclusive Catholic heritage, enduring values, and a capacity for innovation. The school was chartered in 1889 by Catholic Benedictine monks in rural Pasco County, FL, making Saint Leo the first Catholic college in the state. Saint Leo provides access to education to people of all faiths, emphasizing the Benedictine philosophy of balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit.

The university welcomes learners from all generations and backgrounds, from civilian occupations and the armed forces, and from across the country and more than 60 nations around the world. Saint Leo’s nearly 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students may elect to study at the beautiful University Campus in Florida, at more than 40 teaching locations in seven states, or online from any location. The university’s degree programs range from the associate to the doctorate. Through these rich offerings, Saint Leo develops principled leaders for a challenging world.

Saint Leo University boasts nearly 80,000 alumni in all 50 states, Washington, DC, five U.S. territories, and 72 countries.


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