Dec 22nd, 2022

'Tis the season to be merry. And, healthy! While the holidays can be about happiness, laughter, joy and peace; it can also be about busy schedules, traveling, gift-giving, crowds, over-eating, or overall stress. The reality of it is that a festive season full of family, friends, delicious food, and beautiful memories isn't always compatible with a healthy lifestyle. This holiday, we want to help you change that.

We encourage you to take steps to keep you and your loves safe and healthy—and ready to enjoy the wonderful spirit of the holidays. Here are just a few tips, including some personal ones dedicated to you from our Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center nurse staff.

"Wash your hands often and thoroughly, and don't drink and drive! Nominate a designated driver."
-Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center Nurse

Healthy Eating

Temptations are everywhere, and parties and travel disrupt daily routines. Here are CDC's 5 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays.

  1. Holiday-Proof Your Plan. Eat close to your usual times and don't skip meals to save up for a big feast. If you have a sweat treat at the holiday party, cut back on carbs during the meal; or better yet, bring a healthy dish along with you!
  2. Outsmart the Buffet. Start with vegetables to take the edge off your appetite and eat slowly. It takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to realize you're full. Have pumpkin pie instead of pecan pie to cut calories and sugar by at least a third.
  3. Fit in Favorites. Slow down and savor a small serving.
  4. Keep Moving. Don't let physical activity get crowded out from a busy schedule. Get moving with friends and family, such as taking a walk after a holiday meal. Break activity up into smaller chunks so it's easier to schedule, like walking 10 minutes several times a day.
  5. Get Your Zzz's. When we're sleep deprived, we tend to eat more and prefer high-fat, high-sugary foods. Aim for 7-8 hours of restful sleep to keep your food choices healthier. Also, schedule some “me” time every day—a nap, dog walk, or hot bath to get your energy back for the next celebration.

"Watch the food temperatures at holiday parties. Make sure hot foods stay hot and cold foods stay cold to prevent instances of food poisoning."
-Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center Nurse

Healthy Coping

Many find that the holidays bring as much stress as they do joy. But there are ways to ease through the season with these 4 Mindful Tips to De-Stress from John-Hopkins Medicine.

  1. Accept Imperfection. Before you start preparing, acknowledge that things may not go exactly as planned and don't set the bar impossibly high for yourself.
  2. Don't Lose Sight of What Really Counts. If you're feeling overwhelmed, keep your perspective sound and don't let the unexpected spoil your days. What really counts is your mental wellbeing.
  3. Respond with Kindness. You can't change how others act under the stress of the holidays, but you can change how your respond to situations and people around you. Take a deep breath and don't forget that this is a difficult time for many people—your kindness is powerful.
  4. Rethink Your Resolutions. Start small by breaking down your goal into smaller steps over the course of the year. And, be kind to yourself! If you stray, let go of any self-critical negativity and pickup your goals back up without guilt or shame.

Interested in more terrific healthy coping tips? Here is more from the Mayo Clinic Health System.

"Be mindful of small children during holiday gathering at new or unfamiliar homes and places. Not everyone “child-proofs” their homes... Accidental poisonings can happen in an instant if alcoholic beverages, purses, bags, cleaning products, or medications are left unattended and within reach of small children."
-Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center Nurse

Healthy Body

This year's holiday season is arriving right in the midst of strained hospitals nationwide due to COVID-19, Influenza, and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). Staying healthy goes a long way in relieving stress on hospitals so they can focus on those who are in most need and likely to face severe disease—including older people and the immunocompromised.

We've highlighted the best tips here from Staying Healthy During the Holidays, and 10 Things You Can Do To Stay Healthy This Holiday Season. For more, check out NPR's Tips to keep you and your family safe from the tripledemic during the holidays.

At Minimum
  • Enjoy the holiday feast, but eat mindfully
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Limit your stress as much as possible
  • Keep your body moving
  • Stay hydrated and get good sleep

"A warm crackling fire can be such a great comfort on a chilly winter night... please burn responsibly. Keep any small children and flammable objects away. Never leave your fire unattended."
-Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center Nurse

At Best
  • Get vaccinated against the flu and covid. The bivalent COVID-19 booster shots made by Pfizer and Moderna are available to almost all, including most children. Flu shots don't prevent all infections, but they can help prevent hospitalizations, deaths, as well as transmission.
  • Stay home if you're sick. It's one of the most profoundly important things you can do this holiday season to keep other people safe.
  • Wear a mask in indoor public places. While studies are mixed on the effectiveness of masks on a large scale, masks like N95s or KN95s have shown to block virus particles in lab settings. Especially in crowded indoor travel spaces, such as subways or airports/airplanes, wearing a high-quality, well-fitting mask can cut your risk of getting infected.
  • Get tested before an indoor gathering or if you feel sick. Tests are widely available and if diagnosed early, there are antivirals that can help shorten the length and severity of your illness. Don't gather or attend that holiday party if you're feeling unwell.
    • Testing for COVID-19, Flu, and RSV is available in Cape Girardeau at 410 Kiwanis Drive, 63701, as sponsored by the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services (MODHSS). For details and testing registration, click here.
    • 4 At-Home COVID-19 Tests are available for free to each household in the U.S. For details or to order your tests, click here.

The hustle and bustle of the holidays are here. While there's nothing you can do to completely protect yourself from catching the common cold, flu, COVID-19, or another pesky virus; there are some things you can do to stay as healthy as possible during the holidays. Follow our tips above and have a very, merry, healthy holiday season!

Sources: Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and