Your Health: How to safely celebrate the holidays this year

No matter what your holiday celebrations look like this year, it’s important to continue to take proper precautions like social distancing, wearing a mask and staying home if you have symptoms.

While the holidays are normally a time to gather with family and friends, this year may look slightly different for many of us. Rising cases of COVID-19 are forcing people to think twice about how they celebrate the season.

“Many of our holiday traditions involve gathering large groups of people together in one place,” said Matthew Swan, MD, AdventHealth Medical Group Primary Care at Deer Creek. “While it is upsetting, some families may choose to adjust traditions to keep everyone safe and healthy.”

One thing is certain – no matter what your holiday celebrations look like this year, it’s important to continue to take proper precautions like social distancing, wearing a mask and staying home if you have symptoms.

Many families are wondering whether or not it’s safe for older adults or someone with a medical condition that puts them at higher risk for complications from COVID-19 to participate in holiday gatherings. 

“The safest thing to do in this situation will always be to not expose a loved one,” said Dr. Swan. “However, it is difficult to live life never seeing the people we love. If you and your loved one make a decision to see each other, be sure you take adequate precautions, and minimizing exposure time you have with that person can go long way to ensuring safety.”

Dr. Swan encourages people to think about their individual situations when deciding whether or not to travel this season. Consider your risk for complications should you contract COVID. Some travel options are safer than others. 

“Any method of travel that involves being in a closed space with a large number of people such as airplanes or buses will obviously result in a higher exposure rate,” said Dr. Swan. “The safest option would be to avoid travel during the holidays if possible, or travel by private vehicle.” 

 One aspect of our holiday traditions that COVID does not affect much is food. Eating and preparing food does not pose a large risk for COVID transmission so go ahead and enjoy all your favorite holiday foods. Just be sure you practice good hand hygiene and refrain from cooking and baking if you have recently been sick. Also, do not take bites of food from someone else’s plate or share cups. 

This is a difficult time for all of us,” said Dr. Swan. “We are social animals who depend on fellowship and love to thrive. We need to be as safe as possible, but denying ourselves the fellowship of those we love can harm us in ways that can be just as detrimental as the virus. I would encourage everyone to take the appropriate steps to protect themselves this season, but to not let fear dominate and dissuade. It is possible to have a wonderful holiday season and be safe at the same time.”

If you are looking for answers to health-related questions during the holidays or anytime, call AdventHealth NurseLine, 24/7, at 913-676-7777.