Holiday Survival Guide

Key Tips for a Safe and Healthy Holiday Season

There may not be a nip in the air, at least not here in Southwest Florida, but your neighborhood's all a-glow with twinkling lights, which can only mean one thing: the holiday season is here!

The most wonderful time of the year celebrates the joy of family, friends, and all that is merry and bright. But as love, laughter and light fill our hearts, so can the stress of the holidays. And when we work to fulfill all those obligations and responsibilities, we can neglect our own personal health, not to mention our family's safety.

We encourage you to follow these holiday safety tips and to pay special attention to your health and wellness as you cross to-dos off your list and enjoy this joyous season. Lee Health wants to see you ring in the New Year in good health and in good spirits.


First, it's all about you: deck the halls with reds and greens – not the holiday blues

In the midst of creating your holiday season, remember to take care of yourself. Eating too much, spending too much money, and overextending yourself to friends and family can contribute to the "holiday blues." According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 64 percent of people with mental illness say the holidays worsen their conditions.

"The stress of standing in long lines, dealing with the crowds, having to travel and see relatives, and buying gifts for everyone can lead many people to experience anxiety and depression around the holiday season," says Lee Health psychiatrist Daryl Tanski, M.D. "We need to have realistic expectations for the holidays. It won't be perfect, and don't push yourself to do more than you can handle."

  • Get enough sleep: 7-8 hours per night.
  • Plan and stick to a budget.
  • Have realistic expectations.
  • Simplify gift giving.
  • Consume less alcohol and sugar.
  • Start or keep exercising.
  • Avoid "toxic" people and relatives.
  • Do not over commit yourself.

Holiday Depression from Lee Health on Vimeo.

If feelings of anxiety or depression persist or worsen, you should make an appointment with your doctor because you may be experiencing recurrent depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a mood disorder associated with the time of year.


A Happy Home is a Safe Home

While you're wrapping gifts, trimming the tree, baking cookies, or lighting candles, don't forget an important holiday task: ensuring your family's safety.

It's easy to overlook safety precautions, says Lindsay Schwandner, M.D., a primary care pediatrician at Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida. "During the holidays, with so many distractions, sometimes children aren't as closely supervised. With so many adults in the house, it's easy to think someone else is watching them."

Dr. Schwander's top safety tips to protect your kids and you:

Décor

  • Use non-breakable tree ornaments tied with ribbon instead of metal hooks, which are choking hazards for small children.
  • Poinsettia, holly, and mistletoe plants can be toxic. Put plants out of the reach of toddlers.
  • String decorative lights toward the upper reaches of your holiday tree. The bulbs can burn tiny fingers and loose lights pose a choking hazard.
  • Check decorative lights for broken or missing bulbs and frayed wires.
  • For outdoor lighting, choose extension cords rated for outside use.

Fire Awareness

  • Artificial trees should be rated fire-retardant and non-allergenic by a recognized testing facility.
  • Never decorate any type of tree, artificial or real, with candles.
  • Water your live tree every other day to keep it from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Turn off tree lights before leaving your home or going to bed.
  • Consider using electric and battery-operated candles.

Safe Gift-Giving Tips

  • Check the safety label to determine if the gift is age-appropriate for its recipient.
  • Avoid toys with small parts for infants, toddlers, and all children who still chew objects.
  • Even if a small child is considered advanced for his or her age, he or she should not receive a gift meant for an older, more mature child.
  • When opening gifts, collect all packaging pieces to eliminate choking hazards.
  • Never burn colored gift wrap in your fireplace. Some metals found in certain ink pigments can release toxic fumes.

Traveling This Holiday? Take These Steps to Protect Your Home While You're Gone

What's worse than crowded airports, long lines, rude passengers, the middle seat, and delayed flights? Finding out that thieves have gone Grinch on your home while you were away. Here's how to make your residence safe during your travels:

We Love Our Social Media -- So Do Thieves. Avoid Broadcasting Your Travel Plans.

One in three Americans will hit the road for the holidays, according to AAA. When planning your travel, plan not to share your vacation information on social media, too. That cute selfie of you and your family standing in front of the Grand Canyon is an invitation for would-be thieves to visit your home. AAA also suggests avoiding geotagging a photo of your hotel. Take all the selfies and pictures you want, of course, but wait until you're sitting on the couch at home to post about your trip on social media.

Tell Thy Neighbor.

If you're leaving town during the holidays, tell someone you trust, ideally a neighbor who can keep an eye on your home for any suspicious activity. Also, ask your neighbor or a friend to collect your mail and any boxes or papers that show up on the porch. Those dastardly porch pirates make the nightly news more often than we'd like. If you're expecting lots of deliveries, get a security camera or leave instructions for the delivery service to leave packages somewhere safe.

Nowadays with home automation devices, you can add motion sensor lights to your property and program electronics like TVs and electrical lamps to really make your home look inhabitable.

Don't Show Off the Most Beautiful Christmas Tree in the World. Or the Gifts Under It.

Like inquisitive kids, potential burglars can't keep their attention off beautifully wrapped gifts. That's why it's smart to keep gifts and packages away from windows or other places that offer a view. That means you may have to move your Christmas tree from the picture window. Don't advertise!


Safety Doesn't End with the Holiday.

You've survived another holiday! But before you congratulate yourself with another cup of egg nog, make sure all those empty gift boxes, especially the ones of big-ticket items such as HDTVs, Xboxes, and computer monitors, aren't piled up in the street. Everyone will know, including the bad guys, that you have expensive new gifts. Flatten the boxes and fold them smaller so they'll fit into recycling bins.

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