'Tis the season to be jolly. It's also the season to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Despite the excitement of the holiday season, there are many things we're battling, including the ever-present COVID-19 pandemic that has forced us indoors and away from social gatherings.
The COVID-19 pandemic presents new challenges for the holidays, no matter what your celebration traditions are. In 2020, you have to worry about your health symptoms, if you've been tested for COVID-19, and if it's safe to see your family during the holiday season.
The good news is that there are ways to reduce risk to yourself and others, and Swedish is there to help you along the way. Here are some tips for maintaining all-around wellness and still having some fun this holiday season.
- Wear a mask: Swedish, government agencies and businesses are asking everyone to wear masks whenever they are in public, especially when social contact is happening indoors. Masks help reduce the spread of COVID-19, but health officials recommend that you still only gather with those in your household. Pick up a mask or two with fun designs and put them in everyone's stocking. If you go out for groceries or last-minute gifts, don't forget your mask because you'll likely be turned away if you aren't wearing one.
- Wash your hands: Germs are a gift that nobody wants to receive. Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating or handling food and touching your face. Make sure you wash up after being out in public, coughing and sneezing, and using the restroom.
- Stay six feet apart and gather outside: Observe proper physical distancing and if you do decide to gather with friends or family outside of your immediate household, spend time outdoors whenever possible. This will allow you to decrease the risk of anyone getting sick. Make sure to find a covered area or bring a coat to block colder temperatures. You don't want to compromise your immune system because you're unprotected from the elements.
- Avoid travel or change how you travel: Take a road trip instead of flying this year. Better yet, save money and travel when it's safer and more convenient to do so. If you do travel, remember your mask and hand sanitizer.
- Get tested: If you do plan on seeing your family over the holidays, try to get tested for COVID-19 several days in advance. This way, you can avoid spreading the virus if you test positive, and you will have peace of mind if you don't have it. Another thing to keep in mind is that the virus may take up to five days after exposure to trigger a positive test. Consider self-quarantining before you see your family so you can account for your last possible exposure and the time it takes to receive an accurate test result.
And don't forget, minimizing your risk by avoiding travel and gatherings doesn't mean you can't enjoy the holidays:
- Schedule time to talk to or see your loved ones. Even if it's just a phone or video call, this quality time will help you and others overcome the negative aspects of isolation. Feelings of loneliness can have serious consequences on your physical and mental health, especially for seniors.
- Instead of Secret Santa, try Surprise Santa this year. Order something online for a loved one and spread the joy. Even if you ship it yourself and show your name on the return label, the recipient will surely appreciate the generous thought.
- Virtual Christmas movie marathons are another way to keep traditions alive while you're apart from your family. Some streaming devices allow you to coordinate watch parties. You can also start the movie at the same time while you enjoy a video call with your fellow viewers.
- Find some peace through reading, meditation, exercise, or extra sleep. These strategies can help you cope with stress in a healthy way.
Get in touch with Swedish for all of your health needs
Swedish offers several options to keep you and your family healthy during the holiday season. Virtual Telehealth is available for those who want to receive medical advice from the comfort of their own home. In-person visits are also available for patients who feel comfortable going into the doctor's office. Guidelines are in place to keep patients and medical staff safe. You can see a doctor immediately at your nearest urgent care facility. Learn more about COVID-19 at swedish.org/covid-19.
You can schedule a telehealth appointment here. Find your nearest Swedish location here. Patients who need virtual behavioral health treatment can connect with their doctor or call 1-800-Swedish to schedule an appointment.