Tips for staying healthy during the holidays

Alexandria Anderson, News reporter

There are a lot of factors when it comes to keeping yourself healthy during the holiday season. These can include the heightened cold and flu season during the winter months, holiday nutrition, home exercise and stress around making plans.

It’s important that during the season students understand how best to keep themselves healthy. Mary Bennett, the director of the WKU School of Nursing and Allied Health, gave advice on some ways for students to stay safe and healthy during the holiday season. 

“Avoid [illnesses] to begin with. It’s entirely possible to avoid people when you’re sick and avoid people that are sick,” Bennett said. “Of course, wash your hands carefully and don’t touch the face and nose areas. Don’t share food and drink with others, and don’t let someone else drink out of your glass. It’s these basic things that have to do with staying healthy.”

She also discussed how best to handle nutrition during the holidays when many families hold different large holiday meals.

“There’s a lot of food around, and that doesn’t mean you should deny yourself your favorite treats, but just pace yourself. Think in advance about what you really want,” Bennett said. “Moderation is the key to everything. Be aware that you don’t want to make yourself ill, you don’t want to feel bad after the meal. Judge what you really really want and save room for that.”

Exercise is something that also promotes bodily wellness, but it may be difficult for students outside of campus. 

“It just depends on your home environment. For most of us we can find a way to go up and down stairs, or try walking outside if it’s not too cold out,” Bennett said. “[Thanksgiving is] a short break, so you’re not going to get completely out of shape by being away from campus. But for the longer winter break, if you’ve got a gym membership or something that’s a good time to make use of that.”

Students should make note that they need a break and to relax and enjoy themselves, and ask themselves, ‘what would make this the best break I can have for myself.’”

— Mary Bennett

Mental health is also something to take care of during the holidays, despite the fact that many don’t associate it with staying healthy. It can be difficult to be around those that may cause some stress during the holidays.

“We look at the holiday season in particular because it shows sometimes who you get along with and who you don’t,” Bennett said. “Think in advance about who you are going to be around and ask, ‘how am I going to deal with being around these people’.”

She explained how it may be hard for some students around the holidays because of difficulties with their relatives.

“Be aware that the holidays are more stressful because of relatives. Give yourself an excuse if you think, ‘it would do me more harm than good’,” Bennett said. “Those are things that as an adult you think, judge what life events I want to go to and which ones would I just rather skip.”

Bennett also stressed the overall importance of the holiday season and school breaks for our health as a whole. This time off allows us recuperation before the spring semester and a chance to form new healthy habits.

“Students should make note that they need a break and to relax and enjoy themselves, and ask themselves, ‘what would make this the best break I can have for myself,’” Bennett said. “Think, ‘what can I do that will make me come back to campus refreshed and reenergized’ and work that into your schedule.”

News reporter Alexandria Anderson can be reached at [email protected]