As we head into the holiday season, most of us are probably going to be spending a good amount of time with our families and friends. This is a great opportunity to enjoy time with those we love and think about what is important and meaningful to us. But staying healthy during the holidays can be hard – temptations to overeat and drink too much are everywhere. We tend to travel more, sleep less soundly, exercise less, and have more stress during this time of year.

Whether joyful or stressful, how healthy we are depends in part on the health of those closest to us – including their behavioral health, and our own. Many factors influence both our physical and behavioral health – including where we live, what we eat, how we deal with stress, our level of social support, our genetics – and we share many of these with our families. But beyond just a shared history and background, the actions of our close family can have an impact on us. A spouse’s or partner’s depression can contribute to an individual’s risk for chronic pain and the quality of a marriage has been associated with whether people develop diabetes later in life and how well they manage diabetes. How parents react to a child’s illness influences how often that grown child will go to the doctor, whether they stay home from work, and the length of time to recover from illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers Holiday Health and Safety Tips and the 12 Ways to Health Holiday Song (worth a listen). The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center offers 10 tips for staying healthy during the holidays. Even Food Network and Readers Digest offer 11 Tips for Staying Fit During the Holidays and 9 Stay-Healthy Tips for the Holidays. So if you feel that being around your family is making you want to engage in some unhealthy behaviors, just listen to Adele.

Happy Holidays.

Ginny Weir, MPH
Program Director, Bree Collaborative