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Don't let sickness ruin your holiday season

December 03, 2013

Media Contact: Keith.O’, 413-794-7656

SPRINGFIELD – Are you letting your body get run down with all the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping and late-night parties which can really put a stress on your immune system?

You owe it to yourself to stay healthy so that you can enjoy every minute of the festive season with friends and family.

“An ounce of prevention is the best defense to staying healthy,” said Dr. Joseph Schmidt, vice chair of Emergency Medicine at Baystate Medical Center.

According to Dr. Schmidt, during the holidays there are more family gatherings and parties to attend, shopping, and traveling, especially by airplane, putting you in contact with more people and increasing your chances of getting sick. And, your best defense begins with hand washing.

“Keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to prevent the transmission of germs. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and consider carrying a hand sanitizer with you at all times,” said Dr. Schmidt.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you get a flu vaccine to protect yourself since we are now officially into the flu season. And, because there is more sickness at this time of year, refrain from sharing utensils or drinking cups.

Also, don’t forget your vitamins.

“If you don’t already take one, consider a daily high-potency multivitamin or extra vitamin C which can help boost your immune system,” said Dr. Schmidt.

Another golden rule – get plenty of rest.

“Sleep is essential for our health and well-being and getting a good night’s rest is important to help strengthen your immune system to fight infections, reduce stress, and
to stay energized,” said Dr. Schmidt, noting some health experts recommend getting
8 ½ to 9 hours of sleep during the holidays.

And, be sure to make time to exercise.
“Even if you find yourself running behind in your holiday chores, don’t sacrifice much-needed exercise time which will help give you the energy you need during this busy time. It also helps to burn calories, too,” said Dr. Schmidt, who recommends trying to be physically active for at least 2 ½ hours a week and finding ways to keep the kids active for at least one hour a day.

If you just can’t make it to the gym as regularly as you have in the past, you can try to keep moving in other ways. Don’t try to find that parking spot close to the mall entrance, instead opting for one far away so that you will have to walk more. And, take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that you can give the gift of health to yourself and others by following some additional simple tips to keep your holiday free from stress and sickness:
• Bundle up and stay dry and warm. Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: layers of light, warm clothing and mittens, hats, scarves and waterproof boots.
• Don’t drink and drive or let others drink and drive. Whenever anyone drives drunk, they put everyone on the road in danger.
• Eat healthy and don’t skip meals. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat and sugar.

“Above all, don’t let all the stress that comes with the season ruin your special
holiday. Take some time to chill, relax with a good book, or pop your favorite movie into
the DVD player and reenergize your body and soul,” said Dr. Schmidt.

“By following these simple tips for the holidays, you will increase your chances of enjoying a sick-free holiday season, and starting the New Year on a healthy note,” he said.

For more information on Baystate Medical Center, visit