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How to beat the holiday blues and blahs

Holiday Tips from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for staying healthy and in good spirits during this holiday season.

  1. Enjoy those once-a-year holiday treats – just eat less of them. It’s possible to indulge without packing on the holiday pounds. Choose the items you can’t live without, and enjoy them in moderation.
  1. Get moving – and not just at the gym Park your car further away from the entrance of the grocery store or shopping mall. Take the stairs at the shopping mall instead of the elevator or escalator. Turn your holiday cleaning into a workout. And the best way to get exercise during the holidays? Dance!
  1. Give the gift of health. Start new holiday traditions with family and friends that are centered on eating healthy, moving more and living tobacco free. Small steps can add up to big improvements in your and your family’s health, and that’s a gift worth giving this year.
  1. Decorate safely. Holidays are the time to bring out the tinsel and lights, but accidents can happen when decorations go awry. Use flame-resistant or non-combustible materials to trim a tree. And when you leave your home or go to bed, be sure to turn off all holiday lights inside and outside your residence.
  1. Manage your stress. The holidays don’t need to take a toll on your Be mindful about overcommitting and overspending to reduce your stress level. Balance work, home, and holiday parties. Set realistic expectations for yourself and your family this holiday season. And above all, try to get enough sleep each night to stay well-rested, refreshed, and ready to go!
  1. Wash your hands. Germs can survive on door handles, railings, and other surfaces you touch with your After being in crowded places and always before eating, wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds (hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice) or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  1. Don’t skip meals to save calories for late Skipping meals can cause you to overeat and consume more calories than if you had small meals throughout the day. A key to long-term weight loss is starting your day with a healthy breakfast.
  1. Do something for someone else. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money to remember others this holiday season. Donate to a charity; volunteer at a senior home or a homeless shelter; serve a meal to a hungry family; or invite friends over to spend a holiday with you. You can also become a sponsor in the Department of Public and Social Services’ Adopt-A-Family program.  For more information visit http://dpss.lacounty.gov/dpss/vs/adopt.cfm.
  1. Avoid foodborne illness by washing fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly, separating raw meat and poultry from other food, and using separate cutting boards, knives, and platters to prepare meats. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. When in doubt, throw it out.
  1. Practice safety first this holiday Shop with a friend; park in a well-lit space; don’t leave shopping bags in plain sight; avoid carrying large amounts of cash; and don’t overburden yourself by carrying too many packages. Be alert and aware of your surroundings during the holiday hustle and bustle.
  1. Drink up – water, that is. Did you know that there are 22 packets of sugar in a regular 20- ounce soda? You wouldn’t eat that many packs of sugar, so why would you drink them? Try water, unsweetened tea, or low-fat milk for a satisfying thirst quencher that won’t pour on the pounds.
  1. Don’t let holiday stress allow you to give in to your cigarette Instead, brush your teeth, drink water, take deep breaths, grab a cinnamon stick, or go for a walk. Call the California Smokers’ Helpline to talk with a counselor who can offer free help and a plan to quit for good. The Helpline is open: M-F 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM and Sat-Sun 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM at1-800-NO-BUTTS (1-800-662-8887)

For more tips on how to stay healthy during the holidays, visit Public Health’s Choose Health LA initiative on Facebook or Twitter @ChooseHealthLA at ChooseHealthLA.com