"Have a holly, jolly Christmas! It's the best time of the year!"
— Johnny Marks, 1962
It is time to celebrate the holidays with friends and family. Make sure this holiday season is healthy, joyous and safe.
You may not want a holiday celebration to be ruined by being sick.
It is crucial to protect yourself and your family from two of the biggest threats — COVID-19 and the flu.
COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. Although cases are declining, there remains a threat for community spread of the disease.
It is never too late to get your COVID vaccine if you have not done so. It is safe, effective and accessible.
Unvaccinated people are more vulnerable to getting COVID-19 than vaccinated people and have an increased mortality risk.
If you have already been vaccinated, you have taken one of the best steps to protect your health.
You are also now eligible for a booster dose of the vaccine if you are 18 years of age or older, and it has been six months since you became fully vaccinated.
The seasonal flu also remains a serious health risk during the holidays season.
Flu vaccines are available in most local pharmacies. It is strongly recommended for everyone ages six months and older should get the flu vaccine.
Many of the things we have learned during the COVID-19 pandemic help protect us year-round anyways: washing hands frequently with water and soap; keeping hand sanitizers handy as a backup; continuing to wear a mask in crowded places like a grocery store or shopping mall. These help protect against several airborne illnesses.
With gifts wrapped, gatherings and food all around, the holidays have many reasons people fall into unhealthy eating patterns and overshadow the season's joy.
Holiday food tastes delicious but is heavy in calories, enticing us to eat more significant portions. But, with a little better planning and discipline, you can eat well without blowing up on the calorie budget by eating the courses slowly, avoiding second helpings and avoiding filling up the plate entirely.
Utilize the Christmas party as a chance to meet up with friends and catch up after a year instead of spending time at the buffet table.
Cooking holiday meals with a reduced amount of salt, using olive oil in place of butter, introducing healthy salad and some greens as a side balance cut the intake of high-calorie courses.
Drink plenty of water, limit alcoholic drinks and exercise regularly.
Unfortunately, the urge to exercise slides at this time of the year as we get busier with holiday parties, shopping and traveling.
So, try to make time for yourself and get in your exercise, even if it is 30-40 minutes of brisk walking, five days a week.
De-stressing and relaxing by reading a favorite book or watching a movie with loved ones bring peace and enjoyment during the holiday season.
If you have outstanding gaps in preventive care, now is the time to call your doctor to complete your testing.
Year-end appointments are often in high demand. It is quite a busy time of the year for many, both personally and professionally, thus making it even more challenging to schedule medical appointments. Schedule your annual physical exam to address the preventive care measures, like mammograms, pap smears, colon and prostate cancer screening. The sooner you act, the better.
Find yourself to do things differently this year and have a happy, healthier holiday season!
Dr. Sue Mitra is a Board Certified Internist and accepting new patients. Call Dr. Mitra at 321-622-6222 for clinical preventive services and discuss how to stay healthy for the holidays.
This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Keep up with your health, vaccines during busy holiday season