December Can Be a New Beginning Too!

Well, it’s December! How did that happen?

Hello DecemberFor many of us, our lives are so hectic, it feels like we suddenly looked up at the calendar and 2017 is almost over. Thanksgiving is already a week behind us. Halloween was over a month ago. And summer … wow.

This time of year is especially hectic with so many holidays and end of year plans, that many of us tend to get a bit stressed out. Maybe you made resolutions last January and never followed through. Or you had a project you wanted to complete this year that you never got to.

It’s okay!

We are only human. If it didn’t happen, that’s okay. If it’s truly something you want to do, you can still do it. And maybe it’s just not a priority in your life right now.

Many people tend to look at December as an ending, rather than a beginning. After all, it’s the last month of year. Everything leads up to January 1. So people either give up on things or say, “I’ll wait until next year.” It doesn’t help that the days are shorter and colder and some people become depressed during the winter months.

But why wait?

Okay … okay … maybe because December tends to be crazy with holidays, shopping, decorating and visiting friends and family. That’s true. But if you wanted to start a diet or an exercise routine or plan a trip or a home renovation, you don’t have to wait until January to get started.

Why put off ’til January what you can do today? Do you want to try to lose a few pounds or start eating and living healthier? Start today. You will have a month head start on all those people who are waiting until January.

But the holidays are filled with cookies and pie and candy and …

Sad gingerbread manSo, if you start eating healthier now and slip a little bit as December rolls on, you are still ahead of the game. And there are ways to eat a little healthier around the holidays. Begin to add some exercise into your day. Start walking up and down steps at work instead of taking the elevator. Park a little bit further away in the parking lot (But always be careful. See our blog post on Holiday Shopping Safety).

Start looking into airline and hotel deals for that trip you have been wanting to take. There may be some excellent deals you can find now instead of waiting until the new year to book.

Planning a new kitchen or addition to your home? Or maybe just a freshening up with new paint? Retail stores are not the only ones with deals at this time of year. Pick up the supplies now or start putting feelers out for contractors so you’ll be ready to go when the new year rolls around.

December does not have to be an ending. Every day is a new day, whether it’s December 1, January 1 or May 1! So, get out there and start anew … a whole new December is waiting for you!


More Information:

SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder

AHA Holiday Healthy Eating Guide

Wellness Wednesday: Holiday Shopping Safety

It’s the time of year you love or hate … getting ready for the winter holidays. People are out in droves looking for those perfect gifts. Even if you steered far from the Black Friday frenzy, you know that the next few weeks are going to feature trips to crowded stores.

If you’ve finished your holiday shopping, kudos to you! You are ahead of most of us. But there’s still a good chance you may find yourself needing to make a trip to your local Target, Walmart or Walgreens during December, even if it’s to pick up household necessities.

While most people are just going about their merry way, reveling in the Christmas spirit, there are bound to be a few grinches out there who may want to steal your fun … and your wallet! So, especially at this time of year, you should be extra careful when you are out shopping.

Here are some tips to practice safe holiday shopping:

On the Internet …

Happy young woman online shopping for Christmas presentsAlways make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date. Keep your personal information private and your password secure.

Stick to business websites that you know. Use websites for big name retailers like Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, Macys, etc. Or use reputable online-only retailers like Amazon, Wayfair, Overstock, Zappos, etc. Make sure to review their shipping and return policies before you make a purchase. If you use a site such as ebay or Etsy, review the seller’s background, policies and feedback first.

Legitimate businesses will never ask for your password. They will NOT ask you to click on an unsolicited email to verify your account. So unless you initiated the contact, do not click! Additionally, you can ignore any email that says a Nigerian Prince is giving you money, that Aunt Sally is in jail and needs cash right now, or that the IRS is investigating you. (If you do have an Aunt Sally and she is in jail, you’ll hopefully get a phone call, not an email.)

If you get an email that looks somewhat legit but asks you to click on something, don’t do it. One such example is an email from PayPal that says you have authorized a large payment for something you know you didn’t purchase. It might look like it came from PayPal. It might have the logo and appear all official-like. But the minute it asks you to click on a link, that’s your red flag. If you are concerned, most companies have an email account you can send suspicious emails to. For PayPal, you can forward it to spoof@paypal.com.

In the store …

Woman with Shopping BagsKeep your purse close at all times. Do not leave it in a cart! Purse snatchers are quick and are always looking for opportunity. Don’t give them one.

Know the prices of what you are purchasing. Make note of signs advertising sale prices and watch as the items are scanned.

Save your receipts. Keep them at least until the credit card bills or bank statements come in. If they are gifts, ask the cashier for gift receipts and place them with the item for safe keeping.

Always have your keys in your hand when approaching your vehicle. Make a quick check of the back seat and around and under the car as you approach and before getting in. When loading your car, again, keep your purse on you. If you put it in the car, make sure the passenger side doors are locked. Most cars, when you unlock the back doors, all of the doors unlock.

Do not leave packages visible through your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home. If you have to place them in the back seat, cover them with a blanket. Again, thieves are looking for easy targets.

If you are shopping with children, keep them close and make sure they know what to do if they get separated from you.

Getting everything home …

Senior couple gets help at store loading television into carRemember … whatever you buy, you have to carry. All that shopping can add up when you’re carrying multiple bags around the mall. Distribute the items into equal weights and carry some in each hand to wreak less havoc on your body. Ask a store associate for help getting large items out to your car.

If you can, take your packages back to your car and place them in the trunk. Again, try to avoid putting your packages in the back seat where they are visible. And always be aware of your surroundings in the parking lot.

You also have to get these items from the store to your home. So before you make a purchase of a large item, make sure it will fit into your car. Bring a tape measure with you. Last thing you want is to get that large flat screen TV all the way out to your car and find out it doesn’t fit!

When you do get home, don’t be a hero! There is no prize for bringing all of your bags inside in one trip. Take your time. And if you have purchased something large or heavy, plan ahead to have help getting it inside.

Shipped items …

Keep track of your online purchases and when they are scheduled to ship. Save and/or print out tracking numbers and request text updates. You will be notified by text when the item is shipped, when it’s out for delivery and when it’s delivered. If your item does not arrive when it is supposed to, recheck the tracking information and contact the seller to be sure it shipped to the correct address.

Have purchases shipped to an alternate location if you won’t be home. Thieves, dubbed ‘porch pirates,’ have been known to take packages right off front porches. Some will even follow delivery trucks, waiting for an opportunity. According to Insurancequotes.com, more than 20 million packages were reported stolen from homes last year. So consider having your item shipped to a friend or family member who will be home. Additionally, if you order from Amazon.com, they offer self-service delivery locations called Amazon Lockers, where customers can pick up and return Amazon.com packages. There are locations in and around major cities. You can find out if there is a location near you on their website.


More Information:

10 Ways to Keep Your Packages Safe This Holiday Season

Amazon Lockers

Top Tips for Safe Online Holiday Shopping

Safety Tips for Holiday Shopping with Kids

 

Wellness Wednesday: The Truth About Holiday Spirits

How to Celebrate Safely This Season

We all want to celebrate during the holidays, and more people are likely to drink beyond their limits during this season than at other times of the year.

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Some of them will suffer consequences that range from fights to falls to traffic crashes. Sadly, we often put ourselves and others at risk because we don’t understand how alcohol affects us during an evening of celebratory drinking.

Myths Persist

Despite these potential dangers, myths persist that, for some, can prove fatal. Scientific studies supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provide important information that challenges these widespread, yet incorrect, beliefs about how quickly alcohol affects the body and how long the effects of drinking last.

Alcohol’s Effects Begin Quickly

Holiday revelers may not recognize that critical decision-making abilities and driving-related skills are already diminished long before a person shows physical signs of intoxication.

Initially, alcohol acts as a stimulant, and people who drink may feel upbeat and excited. But don’t be fooled. Alcohol soon affects inhibitions and judgment, and can lead to reckless decisions.

As we consume more alcohol, reaction time suffers and behavior becomes poorly controlled and sometimes even aggressive—leading to fights and other types of violence. Continued drinking causes the slurred speech and loss of balance that we typically associate with being drunk. At higher levels, alcohol acts as a depressant, which causes the drinker to become sleepy and in some cases pass out.

At these levels, alcohol can also cause blackouts or periods of amnesia where a person does not remember what happened while he or she was intoxicated. The intoxicated person actively engages in behaviors like walking and talking, but does not create memories for these or other events that occur during the blackout. In the most extreme cases, drinkers face the danger of life-threatening alcohol poisoning due to the suppression of vital life functions.

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Even When Drinking Stops—Alcohol’s Effects Do Not

During an evening of drinking, it’s also easy to misjudge how long alcohol’s effects last. For example, many people believe that they will begin to sober up—and drive safely—once they stop drinking and have a cup of coffee. The truth is that alcohol continues to affect the brain and body long after the last drink has been finished. Even after someone stops drinking, alcohol in the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream, impairing judgment and coordination for hours.

Before You Celebrate—Plan Ahead

Of course, we don’t intend to harm anyone when we celebrate during the holiday season. Yet violence and traffic fatalities persist and myths about drinking live on—even though scientific studies have documented how alcohol affects the brain and body. Because individuals are so different, it is difficult to give specific advice about drinking. But certain facts are clear—there’s no way to speed up the brain’s recovery from alcohol and no way to make good decisions when you are drinking too much, too fast.

So this holiday season, do not underestimate the effects of alcohol. Don’t believe you can beat them, or they may beat you.

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you choose to drink:

  • Pace yourself. Know what constitutes a standard drink and have no more than one per hour.
  • Have “drink spacers”—make every other drink a nonalcoholic one.
  • Make plans to get home safely. Remember that a designated driver is someone who hasn’t had any alcohol, not simply the person in your group who drank the least.

For more information on celebrating your holidays safely and tips for cutting back, visit: www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health.

Download this article as a PDF.

 

Wellness Wednesday: 5 Tips for Managing Diabetes During the Holidays

Use these tips as a road map for managing your diabetes while making the most of the holiday season.

iStock_000016595896_Large‘Tis the season for family, festivity and food—lots of food. Temptations are all around, and parties and travel can disrupt daily routines. That means it’s also the season when eating healthy, staying active, and taking medication on schedule is harder to do. Here are five tips to help you ring in the new year feeling good while staying on track.

Stick to Your Plan

Managing your diabetes during the holidays should be the same as managing it every day, with a few exceptions. You won’t always be able to control what food you’re served, and you’re bound to see other people indulging. Prepare for the extra challenges and you’ll handle them well:

  • Eat, be physically active, and take your medication close to the usual times.
  • Invited to a party? Offer to bring a healthy dish along.
  • If you have a sweet treat, cut back on other carbohydrates (like potatoes and bread) during the meal.
  • Don’t skip meals to save up for a feast. It will be harder to keep your blood sugar in control, and you’ll be really hungry and more likely to overeat.
  • If you slip up, get right back to healthy eating with your next meal.

Stay in Control

When you face a spread of delicious holiday food, you’ll find healthy choices easier to make if you:

  • Have a small plate of the foods you like best and then move away from the buffet table.
  • Start with vegetables to take the edge off your appetite.
  • Slow down and savor. It takes time for your brain to realize you’re full.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol. If you do have an alcoholic drink, have it with food. Alcohol can lower blood sugar and interact with diabetes medicines.

Also plan to stay in control of your blood sugar. Check it more often during the holidays and adjust your medication if needed.

Fit in Favorites

You can have some of your favorite foods as long as you limit how big the portion is and how often you have it. Choose foods you really love and can’t get any other time of year, like Aunt Edna’s pecan pie. Indulge in a small serving, and make sure to count it in your meal plan.

Stay Active

Women exercising in parkIt’s easy to put physical activity last on the list during the holiday rush, but being active is always time well spent. Get moving with friends and family, such as taking a walk after a holiday dinner. Being active can help make up for eating more than usual, and it reduces stress during one of the most stressful times of the year.

Get Enough Sleep

If you go out more often and stay out later during the holidays, you’re likely to get less sleep. Sleep loss can make it harder to control your blood sugar. And when you’re sleep deprived, you’ll tend to eat more, and prefer high-fat, high-sugar food. Aim for seven to eight hours per night to guard against mindless eating.

Most of all, remember what the season is about—celebrating and connecting with the people you care about. When you focus more on the fun, you won’t focus as much on the food.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention