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Healthy for the Holidays: SLU Experts Share Tips for Taking Care of Yourself, Your Family

by Maggie Rotermund on 12/03/2019

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can take its toll on health. In addition to maintaining healthy habits for yourself, it can be a surprise to see that the health of family members may have declined since last you saw them. 

Saint Louis University and SLUCare experts share their best recommendations for managing your health and that of your family during this busy season. 

Yoga

Yoga can be a great way to de-stress during the holidays. SLU file photo.

Exercise

One way to manage holiday stress, as well as the extra calories from holiday get-togethers, is exercise. Ethel Frese, DPT, professor of physical therapy who teaches exercise physiology at Saint Louis University, suggests that instead of viewing exercise as a chore, consider instead how daily exercise contributes to your overall health.

“It’s a great thing you can do for your day,” Frese said in a 2017 story. “You give yourself a mood boost, an energy boost, more oxygen flowing to the brain, your mind works better, you have a sense of accomplishment you can bring to the next thing you attempt and you have better strength and stamina.”

A few highlights of the researched benefits of regular exercise include:

Hearing Concerns

Did it seem like there was more shouting and repeating stories over the Thanksgiving table? SLUCare audiologist Dave Harris, Ph.D., has five questions to ask before seeking a baseline hearing test.

If the answers to any of those questions was yes, Harris recommends a non-invasive, painless hearing test. 

More Information on Hearing Tests

Holiday Germs

An unexpected illness can wreak havoc on holiday plans. In 2016, a SLU germ expert shared a few tips for avoiding an illness while traveling. 

Older Drivers

Being in a vehicle with a family member for the first time in a while can showcase if driving skill have slipped at all. George Grossberg, M.D., Samuel W. Fordyce professor and director of geriatric psychiatry, recommends that family members concerned about the driving of an loved one involve the older driver’s physician in the conversation. 

“As health care professionals, we need to accept responsibility for bringing up this subject,”  Grossberg told the AARP. “If your loved ones’ physician doesn't bring up the topic, ask the doctor to address it.”

Grossberg also recommends scheduling an older driver evaluation, which might steer an older relative into realizing on their own that it is best to stop driving at night or only drive in familiar areas. 

Managing the Holidays with a Chronic Disease

Stress, travel and last-minute changes can be difficult for those already managing a chronic condition. Florian Thomas, M.D., professor emeritus of neurology, offered several suggestions in 2015 for strategies to keep the holidays manageable for all parties. 

Those strategies include: 

Carrie Bebermeyer and Nancy Solomon also contributed to this report.