3 Keys for Healthy, Happy Holidays

Holiday time is coming soon;  one of our favorite holidays centers around food- good food, lots of it, and time away from work to relax and enjoy family, friends, and special activities, or some extra rest.

This is a great time to focus on the important role that diet, adequate rest, and exercise, play in our overall well-being and health. We have time to practice some good health habits during our time off.  As we all know, without our health, we can’t perform our jobs, or enjoy our time off, or perhaps cannot return to work when we want.  With these upcoming days of Thanksgiving holiday, perhaps we could establish a few important health habits and carry them on through the winter months and into a healthy new year.


1. Rest

Turkey is a feature on many of our tables, and one of its special attributes is the tryptophan effect it has on our bodies; it helps our mind, and body, turn down the power and rest.  One of the number one contributors to weight problems, stress, and chronic and acute illness is the continuous lack of adequate sleep.  There are other methods to turn the mind and body down so that adequate rest is achieved:

  • Power down artificial light and technology: turn down the lights, sleep with blackout curtains
  • turn off the TV, cell phone, and computer/internet at least 30 – 60 minutes before going to bed – read a book,  listen to instrumental or classical music, have a phone conversation
  • Take a shower or bath at the end of your day
  • Wash your feet before getting into bed
  • Schedule a regular bed time and stick to a routine prior to this


2.  Water

Avoiding overeating, weight gain, and consequences of food indiscretion are important goals for a healthy holiday and year ahead.  Increasing the amount of water you drink, 8 cups (8 ounces each) of water a day help control appetite, especially if you stay well hydrated all day long; this will also regulate other important body functions.  The concept of small bites, sampling many foods but only small amounts, will allow your taste buds to enjoy the feast but for you to feel well afterward.   Avoid casseroles and appetizers that have high amounts of fat and starches, and pick instead protein options and fruit and vegetable. This is no time to skip dessert – just find small portions of your favorite pie or cake. 


3.  Dance, Wiggle, Jump, Walk, Run, Play...Move!

Exercise keeps it all in balance: if you get around 45-60 minutes of exercise a day, you WILL sleep better.  You WILL be healthier, and your body will function amazingly well.   Plan your day to start with some 15 minute block of walking, running, biking, dancing to music, court sports, whatever you prefer.  Then find two or three more times during the day to concentrate your effort to give your body the exercise it needs.  It is more important than television!! Do it while you are watching television.  Do it with a friend or your family; plan to make exercise part of the time of holiday celebrations.  You will be healthier for it; and your doctor will miss seeing you except for your annual physicals.   

Here’s to your good health!     
Nurse Ann

Mrs. Vernon is the Nurse Manager of the team of 4 nurses at the Alexandria, Fredericksburg, and Manassas campuses.  She has been with Alternative Paths Training School since 2009, when the first clinic and nurse were added to the campus.  Nurse Ann is a native of North Carolina, where she attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received her BS in Nursing in 1976.  She enjoyed a career in Public Health Nursing for five years before raising her four children and 2 dogs in Alexandria.  She especially enjoys sports (tennis) and dogs.  She has trained and successfully graduated two dogs for Guiding Eyes for the Blind; Tilly is now 10 years old and returned after retiring from guide work and now serves as the Dog Manager for the therapy program at APTS.  Parsley, 5 months old, is her understudy and is in training now to be a future guide dog.

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