Living Well

Be merry and jolly, but also well

Mary Coleman, MD
Be merry and jolly, but also well

It has been a busy holiday season and your to-do-list has been long but is getting shorter by the minute. Amid your holiday chaos, you may have forgotten to take care of yourself. Managing your own personal wellness is important, especially during the holiday season. This time of the year it is unfortunately common to see heart related emergency events, cold or flu, depression and stress related events, and driving accidents.

Managing stress

Emotional stress can lead to high blood pressure, increased chances of becoming ill, substance abuse, inability to fight disease, depression, and insomnia. You can manage an increased amount of stress this time of year by choosing to include healthy elements in your holiday meals and finding time to exercise. Consider taking a small walk with a friend or loved one before starting your day. If you are experiencing an increased amount of stress, seek someone to talk about your problems and concerns with. It can be a friend, family member, or a professional. As you enjoy time with family and friends, stay organized by managing your time and giving yourself some alone “me time.”

Remember to be aware of warning signs of a heart attack during your busy schedule. Signs and symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body
  • Shortness of breath
  • Other symptoms such as cold sweats, nausea or light-headedness

The holiday season can be a time of grief and loss for others. If you are experiencing these feelings, be open to accept support and communicate how can they can help, stay in touch with family and friends, and seek out help if you are not feeling well. You can find a list of community resources here.

Prevent the spread of germs

It is flu season. Get your vaccinations and remember to wash your hands with soap and clean water. Wash your hands before, during, and after preparing food for your family. If you are caring for someone who is sick, make sure that you are consistently washing your hands and those that aren’t sick are keeping a comfortable distance away from the person who is ill as a way to prevent having a household of sick members.

Don’t drink and drive

Have fun as the year comes to an end, but make sure you are safe while doing it. Never drink and drive. Plan to have a designated driver who can safely get you to and from places. There are other ways to avoid driving while intoxicated such as using ride-hailing apps, taxis, and public transportation. Safely enjoy the holidays and your time with your family. Remember to take care of yourself and have a great new year.

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Dr. Coleman is a physician in the Family Medicine Clinic at University Medical Center and is the Marie Lahasky Chair and Professor for the Department of Family Medicine, Director of Community Health and Director of Rural Education at LSU Health New Orleans.