To Your Health: What Happens to Your Health Over the Holidays?

Most women in Forsyth County experience a love-hate relationship with the holiday season. We love candle-light dinners with family, gift-giving with friends, decorating our homes, and celebrating the joys of this special time of year, just to name a few of the heart-warming reasons we look forward to the time of year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. What some of us “hate” are the negative changes in our physical, and sometimes emotional, health that result from the hustle, bustle, and tussle of our holiday habits. So, what are the most common health issues that happen during the holidays?

In an online article by Dr. David Samadi, the five most common health ailments for Americans include the following:

  • Overeating and weight gain
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Too much stress
  • Accidents
  • Lack of sleep

Let’s talk about how to deal with each one of these. I personally have experienced 4 out of 5 of these (I’m not a big drinker, even at the holidays) and have a goal to apply the 5-Ps approach to saying healthy this year over the holidays. “5-Ps” stands for the saying, “Proper planning prevents poor performance.” A friend of mine uses this approach for almost every large task that faces her and I have also heard this used as an “old military” approach to being ready for whatever might happen in life (or in battle).

So, a 5-Ps plan for staying healthy this holiday season could include these steps:

  1. Drink a glass of cold water before each meal; this curbs the appetite.
  2. Avoid emotional triggers that cause overeating (get some support from friends or family who can help you identify these triggers and talk to you about what to do when they occur).
  3. Exercise! Don’t make more time in your busy schedule by sacrificing exercise.
  4. Try to avoid using alcohol as a way to deal with stress; 40% of people use the holidays as an excuse to drink – don’t be in that group!
  5. Limiting alcohol can improve sleep, help you maintain weight, and feel less depressed
  6. Drink more water – less alcohol!
  7. To avoid stress, get organized! Try to delegate, avoid over-committing, and get your sleep and exercise!
  8. About 12,000 people end up in the emergency room due to holiday-related accidents. Many of these are decorating-related! A friend of mine fell off of a dining room table last year trying to decorate her chandelier. This changed her physical capabilities for months to follow. Get help decorating…the top of the tree will be fine without that extra garland and your roof may not need that plastic Santa unless you have help placing it there.
  9. It goes without saying not to drink and drive. But I am saying it anyway.
  10. Sleep! Most people need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. You can’t really catch up on lost sleep, so get organized, plan ahead, and turn off those electronic devices 30-60 minutes before you want to fall asleep.

While some of this advice is easier said than done, why not try the 5-Ps plan this holiday season and get started on getting organized. Don’t wait until the holidays to try and exercise, get your recommended hours of sleep, avoid or deal with stress, eat healthy, and drink less alcohol. Getting into those good habits now will make it easier to maintain them over the busy holiday season. Happy holidays and stay healthy!

Resources: Dr. David Samadi, Chairman of Urology, Chief of Robotic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, Professor of Urology at Hofstra School of Medicine,