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Holiday Health and Safety Tips

Protect Yourself from COVID-19

• Protect those not yet eligible for vaccination such as young children by getting yourself and other eligible people around them vaccinated. You can call the Employee Medical Home at 229-353-6546 today to set up an appointment to be vaccinated or receive your booster if has been six months or more since your second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

• Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth if you are in public indoor settings.

• Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.

• If you are sick or have symptoms, don’t host or attend a gathering.

• Consider using a self-test before joining indoor gatherings with others who are not in your household.

• If you are considering traveling for a holiday or event, visit CDC’s Travel page to help you decide what is best for you and your family. CDC still recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.

Maintain Weight

• Worried about gaining weight over the holidays? Don’t abandon healthy habits. Overindulgence only adds to stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Get plenty of sleep. Incorporate regular physical activity into each day. Choose fresh fruit as a festive and sweet substitute for candy. Limit fats, salt, and sugary foods.

• If you do want to eat the traditional foods, eat smaller portions and pour the gravy and sauces lightly. You may not be able to control what’s being served at a holiday meal, but you can make the turkey, roast beef, and even mashed potatoes and stuffing much healthier by eating portions that are smaller than your palm (not your whole hand, only the palm). Also, forego the sauce or gravy or just spoon on a small amount.

• If you know you’re going to a dinner or party where extra calories cry out for attention, plan to limit your intake for the rest of the day or week. After a big meal, check out the neighborhood Christmas lights and burn calories by taking a brisk 15-minute walk.

Reduce Stress

• Cut the gift list. Rein in gift exchanges that have been outgrown or lost their meaning. Limit gifts to children only, draw names, or organize a gift exchange.

• Skip the mall; shop online. The great thing about doing your gift shopping online is that you can do it any time that works for you — and you can have items shipped directly to another person without having to haul packages to the post office. It’s also easier to comparison shop so you get the best price.

• Go potluck. If you are hosting a big gathering, consider making the event a potluck. If you don’t want to leave the menu to chance, assign responsibility for specific dishes to guests.

• Assign family members to ongoing cleanup duty. Nobody wants to spend hours in the kitchen after a big celebration slaving away over the dishes. Keep a rotating team of dishwashers in the kitchen who can wash pots, pans and other cooking utensils as you go along.

Stay Safe

• Party smart this holiday season. Never drink and drive and always provide non-alcoholic drinks for designated drivers and other guests.

• Keep live Christmas trees and wreaths away from fire hazards such as candles and fireplaces. Keep your Christmas tree watered; a dry or dead tree is extremely flammable. Use step stools instead of climbing on furniture when hanging decorations.

• Don’t give infants and toddlers toys with sharp points or small parts. Make sure all toys and children’s products are age appropriate. After opening gifts, keep plastic wrapping away from small children. Remember that ornaments, tinsel, silk plants and other decorating items can be choke hazards for small kids, too.

Manage the Holiday Blues

• The holidays aren’t joyous for everyone. This time of year can bring stress and feelings of loneliness. Exercise, focusing on positive relationships, and doing things that you find rewarding can help with depression.

• If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give to others is service. Help out at a local soup kitchen or food bank.

• The holidays don’t have to be perfect. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to keep, but be open to creating new ones.

• Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. Be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.

• Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm. Some options may include listening to soothing music, getting a massage or reading a book.

• Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.