Outsmart holiday health challenges

Outsmart holiday health challenges

From getting good sleep to staying social, these four simple lifestyle changes can help you ease stress this holiday season.

A family gathers in the kitchen

Even the biggest fans of the holiday season must admit that this time of year has its health challenges. Flu bugs and sugary temptations are everywhere. The good news: You can be merry and stick to your health goals. Overcome these common obstacles to holiday well-being with our accessible strategies for overcoming holiday season health obstacles. 

Holiday health challenge 1: Dessert overload

What’s a holiday get-together without sweets? A plain old gathering. So go ahead and treat yourself — just make one and done your mantra. Pick your favorite treat and take your time eating it so you can fully enjoy it. 

Holiday health challenge 2: No time to exercise

A little exercise is better than none. Even a 10-minute walk can make a big difference in your well-being. And don’t be afraid to multitask. Walking around the mall while you window shop or dancing in front of the television both count as exercise! 

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Holiday health challenge 3: Trouble sleeping

Getting enough sleep may be the last thing on your mind during the busy holiday season. But lack of sleep can make you more likely to get sick. Turn off your phone and TV at least an hour before bedtime. Then do something relaxing like taking a warm bath or reading a good book before you crawl in bed.

Holiday health challenge 4: Overdoing it on alcohol

Too much alcohol in one night can make it hard to sleep. It can also increase your chance of injury. The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Americans recommends alcohol only in moderation, if at all. Moderation is defined as two drinks a day or less for men. For women, it’s one drink or less a day.*

Outsmart flu season

Winter is a good time to get up to date on preventive vaccines, like your annual flu shot, shingles vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine or booster. Check with your primary care provider on when you should receive a flu shot and other vaccines. Or call Member Services at 1-833-570-6670 (TTY: 711) between 8 AM and 8 PM local time, 7 days a week.

Avoid these winter heart-health hazards

Did you know that cold weather can increase the risk of cardiac problems in older adults? That’s especially true for those with heart disease. Low temperatures cause blood vessels to constrict, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.* Here are four ways to stay safe and warm and minimize your risk of heart problems when the temperatures drop this season.

1. Wear layers

As people age, they often lose sensitivity to the cold. And when you’re less aware of getting cold, you’re more susceptible to hypothermia, a condition in which body temperatures drop to dangerous levels. Wearing layers, including a hat and scarf, helps to trap any warm air your body creates, keeping it close to you so you stay warmer for longer.

2. Take it easy

Moving through snow and ice can wear you out, resulting in a higher risk for slips and falls. When you can, avoid shoveling. If you do shovel, take breaks often so you don’t strain your heart. And while you rest, check in with how you feel. Watch for any warning signs of heart attack including chest or upper body discomfort or shortness of breath.*

3. Stay hydrated 

It might sound counterintuitive, but it’s easy to get dehydrated during the colder winter months. Indoor heating systems create dry air that can lower your body’s fluid levels. Plus, in cold environments, your kidneys work harder, which can lead to more frequent urination. If you’re not drinking water to replace what you’ve lost, you may feel irritable or have a harder time concentrating. Keep a water bottle handy during colder months and sip throughout the day. If you start to feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.*

4. Limit alcohol 

While most fluids help you stay hydrated, alcohol has the opposite effect. It’s a diuretic. That means it increases the frequency you need to urinate, so you lose fluids faster. Alcohol can also make you feel warm, even when it’s freezing out. As a result, you might underestimate the extra strain your body might be under in the cold. The solution: If you drink, do it in moderation.*

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Don’t go it alone

Bad winter weather can put the kibosh on social plans. The holiday season can also be especially hard on some who have recently lost a loved one or feel alone. If you're struggling with feelings of loneliness, depression or isolation, let us help. Call us at 1-833-570-6670 (TTY: 711). We can connect you with helpful resources and organizations — from community fitness classes with SilverSneakers® to mental health counseling. And we can explain the mental health benefits covered by your plan. Your coverage may include:

  • Outpatient therapy sessions — in-person and via telehealth
  • Certain medications
  • Depression screenings
  • Psychiatric evaluations
  • 24/7 Nurse Line
  • Hospital stays

Happy with your Aetna plan?  

If so, consider referring a friend or family member. They can call us at 1-844-947-3493 (TTY: 711) to see if they are eligible to enroll and to learn more about our plans. A licensed agent will answer the call.

Best Customer 2023 Newsweek Award

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*FOR DIETARY GUIDELINES: U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015–2020. Accessed August 16, 2023.

*FOR COLD WEATHER AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: American Heart Association. Cold weather and cardiovascular disease. Accessed August 16, 2023.

*FOR HYDRATION GUIDELINES FOR COLD WEATHER: American Heart Association. Are you drinking enough water during winter months? Accessed August 14, 2023.

*FOR THE IMPACTS OF ALCOHOL: National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Hangovers. Accessed August 16, 2023.

*FOR NEWSWEEK AWARD: The 2023 Newsweek America's Best Customer Service rankings were identified from the results of an independent survey of more than 30,000 U.S. customers who have either made purchases, used services, or gathered information about products or services in the past three years. Customers evaluated several brands: in total over 200,000 evaluations were collected. The awarded brands each received on average 100 evaluations from customers. For more information visit https://www.newsweek.com/rankings/americas-best-customer-service-2023.

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