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It’s the most germiest time of the year! Isn’t that how the song goes? Oh, wonderful, that’s right! Well, it may be the most wonderful time of the year if you and your family can remain healthy throughout the flu and holiday season.

Here are a few ways that you can make your health and safety a priority this year and keep you healthy well into 2022.

  • Wash your hands often to help prevent the spread of germs. Make sure that you are washing them for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • Bundle up when you are headed outdoors in the cold. Wear light, warm layers, hat, gloves, and scarf. And waterproof boots, too!
  • Don’t drink and drive or let others drink and drive. This is an all-year deal and not just for the holidays.
  • Be smoke-free. Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke whenever possible. If you are a smoker, consider making that early resolution to quit.
  • Get your yearly exams and screenings. Just because you are busy enjoying the season shouldn’t mean that you should put off those important health appointments.
  • Keep an eye on children. Keep hazardous or potentially hazardous items, foods, drinks, and objects away from children. Protect them from potential accidents.
  • Practice fire safety and know your family plan. Most residential fires occur during the winter months, so be prepared in the event of an emergency.
  • Prepare food safely. Wash hands, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to the proper temperature and refrigerate foods after eating.

For several years now, we have seen a “role-reversal” where many adults are finding themselves in the role of caregiver for their aging parents and/or siblings. Oftentimes caregivers are so busy caring for others that they forget to care for themselves or their immediate families.

Experts refer to this condition as “caregiver burnout.” The symptoms of caregiver burnout mirror the symptoms of depression and stress, but they may also include:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy.
  • Changes in appetite, weight, or both.
  • Getting sick more often.
  • Using alcohol or sleep medication too often.
  • Feeling blue, cranky, or hopeless.

But what causes caregiver burnout? Besides neglecting themselves, burnout can also be caused by:

  • Role confusion – if you have been a caregiver for a long time, you can forget how to be a parent, spouse, or friend.
  • Lack of control – you may feel like you lack the skills, money, or resources that your loved one needs.
  • Unreasonable demands – you may take on too much, mainly because you are the taking on the task alone.
  • Unrealistic expectations – you may expect your care to have a positive effect on your loved one, when in fact it might not.

While caregiver burnout is the harsh reality for so many, all is not lost. You can reverse the burnout you feel simply by knowing your limits, asking for help, setting realistic goals, and most importantly taking time for yourself.

  • Cranberries contain high amounts of vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. They also include only 45 calories per cup.
  • Cranberry's juice can be used for the prevention of urinary tract infections and bacterial adhesion in the stomach.
  • The same bacteria preventing ability of the cranberry juice can avert the formation of plaque, which leads to fewer cavities. 

 

Health benefits of cranberries

 Recipe: Easy Cranberry Bread 

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon, rind of
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 3/4 cups cranberries, chopped 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a large bowl. Cut in butter until the mixture is crumbly. Add egg, finely grated orange peel, lemon peel, and orange juice all at once; carefully stir until the mixture is evenly moist. Fold in cranberries. Spoon and spread evenly into a greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. 

Recipe: Cranberry Sauce 

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups (1 12-oz package) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • Optional: Pecans, orange zest, raisins, currants, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice. 

Place the cranberries in a colander and rinse them. Pick out and discard any damaged or bruised cranberries. Put the water and sugar in a medium saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar.  Add the cranberries to the pot and return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until most of the cranberries have burst.  Once the cranberries have burst you can leave the cranberry sauce as is or dress it up with other ingredients. We like to mix in a half a cup of chopped pecans with a few strips of orange zest. Some people like adding raisins or currants, or even blueberries for added sweetness. You can also add holiday spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice. Remove the pot from heat. Let cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to a bowl to chill in the refrigerator.

In 2018, more than 111 million people chose walking as their aerobic activity of choice and in 2020, hiking enticed 57.8 million Americans to hit the trail, a number that dramatically increased since 2014.

 

Both activities are low-risk ways to get your exercise in (especially during a pandemic) and keep you moving!

But is walking better than hiking? Or is hiking better than walking? Here a couple things to keep in mind when choosing to lace up your sneakers or hiking boots.

Walking is typically done outside in an urban or suburban flat area (or indoors on a treadmill or at a mall), while hiking is done in the outdoors along natural terrain, with elevation changes.

Both walking and hiking can help you to manage cholesterol and blood pressure. They are both great for improving heart and lung performance, and they both can help you lose weight.

If you want to burn more calories, hiking is your better option. While you can burn approximately 100 calories per mile walking, you can burn approximately 500 calories per mile hiking while wearing a heavy backpack going over arduous terrain.

If you are looking for an inexpensive workout, then walking wins this one. You can walk for free anywhere; while you might have to drive further distances to hike and wear hiking boots and use other hiking gear for peak performance.

Whether you choose to take a hike or take a walk, both activities are great ways to get your exercise, clear your mind and take a breath of fresh air!

Thanksgiving may be behind us, but we are still entering the major holiday season… or the major stress season for some. The holidays are stressful for many during a normal year, but couple that with a global pandemic, shipping delays, shortages, and inflation, many people may be finding it hard to cope this year.

So how can you better deal with your holiday stress?

Experts suggest the following:

  • Talk with your family and find out what holiday traditions mean the most to them and focus on those activities and not ALL of the holiday activities.
  • Make a holiday schedule and invite your family members to help you keep on that schedule.
  • Make it a proactive event to find out what worked and what didn’t from year to year.