Helpful tips for a healthy holiday season

By Patricia Shannon, MD  |  11/26/2019

Tis the holiday season. With it comes not only fun and excitement, but stress, overeating and dread.

Eating foods that are usually off limits, trying to be everything to everybody and spreading ourselves too thin can lead to sickness, fatigue and depression.

We get up in the dark and come home in the dark. Our windows are closed. There are more people in grocery stores, mall shops and seemingly everywhere we go.

To enjoy what should truly be a wonderful, magical time of the year and stay healthy, here are a few suggestions:

  • Slow down. Take a moment to breathe. Put yourself first. I know that sounds impossible, but with a little practice, it is achievable. You are no good to anyone sick, depressed or exhausted.
  • Sleep. Keep as close to your sleep routine schedule as possible. Late nights and early mornings do not mix.
  • For every slice of cheesecake, eat a clementine, apple, pear or another fruit, which can easily satisfy a sweet tooth.
  • For every adult beverage consumed, try a glass of green tea. Hot or cold, it is a great antioxidant, containing mostly water to treat the dehydration alcohol causes. Add some local honey. It’s nature's best sweetener.
  • Dress warmly. We remember a coat, but don’t forget a hat, gloves and nonslip winter boots. Snow and ice cause slips and falls. Good boots can prevent those, and in the event they don't, being bundled up can protect our skin and bones if you do fall. Also, never let your gas tank get below half full. The less you have to pump gas in freezing weather the better.
  • Use hand sanitizer. Germs are everywhere this time of year, especially on grocery carts, public bathroom fixtures and in places where lots of people go, like malls. Never touch your eyes or nose without sanitizing your hands first.
  • If you have not already done so, get your flu shot. This recommendation is for anyone 6 months and older and is especially important if you are an older adult or pregnant. The vaccine will not give you the flu. It contains a “dead” virus. You can no more get the flu than children can get measles, chicken pox, pertussis or polio from their vaccines. This old wives’ tale exists because the flu vaccine is given in a season when people catch a lot of viruses with similar symptoms.
  • Enjoy. Don't overdo. Your loved ones are just that. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Be thankful for what you do have. There may be people out there who seem to have more than you, but remember, there are people out there who look at you and wish they were that blessed.

Wishing you a healthy, happy, safe holiday season! Remember to breathe.

Dr. Patricia Shannon is a board-certified internal medicine physician with Health Quest Medical Practice in the Town of Wappinger. For an appointment, call (845) 790-1350 (TTY/Accessibility: (800) 421-1220). To learn more about the medical practice, now a part of Nuvance Health, visit