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Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

December 22, 2017

Authored by Dr. Joseph Chavez Carey, Primary Care Physician of Orange Regional Medical Group

Tips for a healthy holiday season by Dr. Chavez Carey

The holiday season is a time of reflection and celebration. First and foremost, we should all make, and take, the time to embrace the opportunity to relax and enjoy good times with family and friends. But, as important as that is for our mental health, it’s equally important to adjust our mindset and keep a close eye on our habits this time of year in order to avoid unhealthy pitfalls.

Listen in to Dr. Joseph Chavez Carey discuss healthy holiday tips on the radio:

A Healthy Holidays ‘How-To’

Dr. Joseph Chavez Carey shares a few tips for a healthy holiday season!

Master the Munchies

Everyone grew up eating some traditional holiday treat – a main dish, a dessert or other confection we would enjoy a few days out of the year. We enjoy them today as much for the memories as the flavor, and unfortunately most of them are higher in calories than they are in nostalgia. It only takes a delicious bite or two to reminisce, so remind yourself of that at the table. Keep moderation in mind, to keep portion sizes small. And, don’t buy into excuses that masquerade as jokes. Accepting “holiday weight” as a foregone conclusion or saying that “Christmas dinners are for elastic waistbands,” are just ways of relinquishing self-control. Instead, think about how staying healthy will give you more years to share memories with the ones you love.

Sweaters, Saline & Sleep

Viruses, not cold air, make us sick. But, viruses love how the cold can dry up our nasal and sinus passages, and they use it to their advantage. Once that dryness occurs, our first line of defense against infection is weakened, making it possible for viruses to thrive in our compromised immune systems. Putting on that ugly holiday sweater and wearing scarves and hats can actually help keep infections from getting that foothold.

Saline sprays are also great allies in the fight against the drying cold. An occasional spray of saline will help keep your passages irrigated and functioning well. Saline is also effective in battling persistent winter coughs, which are often caused by post-nasal drip.

Also vitally important for fending off infections: Sleep. As if there weren’t enough good reasons to turn off streaming videos, put down the phone and go to bed, it’s proven that getting enough rest, ideally 8 hours of sleep a night, boosts our immune systems. And, what better prescription could there be for fighting the common cold than a long winter’s nap?

Fit In Fitness

I like to get my exercise in during the hectic holidays by treating it like everything else going on, and making it about family. My 6-year-old and I have fun exercising together right after breakfast, using a guided online program that gets our muscles moving and hearts pumping. There are thousands of fantastic exercise programs online, streaming, or as apps on your phone and fitness gadgets. Many are 10 or 15 minutes long or less. Whether you are home for the holidays or traveling, technology can be a strong fitness motivator.

Pause for Peace

Let’s admit it – life gets stressful the other 11 months of the year, let alone in December. We can’t avoid stress, but we can lessen its impact. When stressful situations arise, take control of how it affects you psychologically and physiologically by putting basic mindfulness practices to work. Recognize that “yes, I’m in a stressful situation,” accept that you cannot change that, pause and take a few deep breaths. Meditative and restorative breathing exercises are easy to learn, can be done anywhere, anytime and can bring any harrowing moment back into perspective.

Happy, and healthy, holidays to you and yours. I hope these tips will help you maintain your overall well-being as you navigate the season. As always, your healthcare providers are always here if you need a helping hand.


This article was authored by Joseph Chavez Carey, MD of Orange Regional Medical Group.

Joseph Chavez Carey, MD, FAAFP of Orange Regional Medical Group Primary Care team.Joseph Chavez Carey, MD
Dr. Chavez Carey is an Orange Regional Medical Group Primary Care Physician. He is Board-certified in Family Medicine, Fluent in Spanish.

He received his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine, New York and completed his internship and residency at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, California.

To make an appointment with Dr. Chavez Carey, please call 845-333-7830.

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