OLYMPIA –The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) wishes everyone a happy holiday season. Embrace the spirit and enjoy this special time of year by following these seven steps to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy.
- Take care of yourself. While some people consider the holidays the most wonderful time of the year, others find this season difficult. Many people experience greater stress, anxiety, or loneliness this time of year. Choose activities that connect you to people or causes you care about, take breaks when you need them, and check in with your friends and family. If you or someone you love is dealing with a mental health crisis, substance use, or any type of emotional distress, you can call, text, or chat with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. It’s free, confidential, and available 24 hours per day.
- Prevent the spread of germs. Remember to wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose, where viruses can enter the body. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not convenient. Get you and your family up to date on immunizations for COVID-19, flu, and RSV. It is important that if you feel sick for any reason, you stay home. Learn more about ways to protect yourself against respiratory illness this season here.
- Stay active. Physical activity is great for our health. It improves sleep quality, lessens feelings of anxiety, and reduces blood pressure. Regular physical activity also lowers the risk for chronic conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Get creative and be active when you connect with friends and family this season – go for a group walk or hike together, shoot hoops, play flag football or another kind of active game together.
- Enjoy the food! There’s plenty of tasty food at the holidays. Have fun and focus on those special foods you love to eat this time of year. Take time and savor each bite and listen to your body to know when you’re full.
- Don’t serve up a foodborne illness. Festive dinners and buffets can create more opportunities for contamination, but you can reduce the risk by taking simple precautions. Wash hands and surfaces often. Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate to prevent cross-contamination. Cook food to a safe internal temperature and refrigerate leftovers right away to keep harmful bacteria at bay.
- Keep an eye on the weather. The best time to prepare for winter weather is before the snow falls or ice forms. Bundle up to stay dry and warm, and make sure your family has warm layers, gloves, hats, scarves, and waterproof boots.
- Practice fire safety. Most house fires happen in the winter and are often caused by cooking accidents, smoking, or unsafe use of woodstoves or space heaters. Protect your home against fires and have an emergency plan that you practice regularly.