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stress-free Thanksgiving

6 steps for a stress-free Thanksgiving

Between cleaning your house, preparing the holiday meal and dealing with family, Thanksgiving can quickly go from celebratory to stressful. Here a few ways to keep stress at a minimum:

1. Ask for help.

Divide and conquer your to-do list with the help of family member or guests. Don’t hesitate to ask for help with food prep and other chores around the house.

2. Take a deep breath.

Practice deep breathing. Taking deep breaths when you get stressed out can lower your heart rate and help your body naturally relax.

Try the 4-7-8 method recommended by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Andrew Weil – breathe in slowly for four counts, hold for seven counts, then exhale for eight counts.

3. Enjoy the atmosphere.

Prepare a feel-good Thanksgiving playlist with music that will make cooking fun and keep your guests in a good mood.

Take regular breaks from preparing dinner to chat with friends and family or simply to rest your feet.

4. Make time for a turkey trot.

Get some exercise earlier in the day, before you sit down at the dinner table.

A brisk 30-minute walk can burn between 100 and 200 calories and help get you on the right side of the day’s calorie count. And not only that, exercise of any kind helps trigger your body’s natural stress-relieving responses.

5. Keep the meal manageable.

If you’re hosting this year’s feast, don’t stress about trying to please everyone. Keep the meal simple and don’t overextend yourself trying to prepare too much.

If guests want a certain type of stuffing, a particular side dish or a special kind of pie that you weren’t planning to make, ask them to bring it.

6. Don’t beat yourself up.

Think about your health this holiday, but remember, it’s just one day.  If you do go for that second slice of pumpkin pie or extra helping of stuffing, it’s not the end of the world. Enjoy yourself and the company of friends and family on Thanksgiving, while resolving to make healthy choices part of your year-round lifestyle.


Next steps:

holiday travel safety

Hitting the road for the holidays? Keep these 8 safety tips in mind.

Thanksgiving is nearly here, which means the busy holiday travel season between November and January is upon us.

The weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are some of the busiest travel times of the year. With many people on the road, the risk of travel-related accidents also goes up.

Whether you’re hopping on the highway to visit friends in town or driving cross-country to see family, remember to keep safety in mind for each member of your family.

1. Use car seats for babies and toddlers.

Babies under the age of 2 should use rear-facing car seats, while toddlers older than 2 can use forward-facing car seats. Using child safety seats correctly can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent.

If it’s cold outside, cover babies and young children with a thick blanket to keep them warm, after they’re strapped securely into their seat. Bulky winter clothes and coats can keep a car seat harness from doing its job.

2. Use booster seats and the backseat for older kids.

Kids who have outgrown a forward-facing harness seat are not ready for a seat belt or front seat yet. They are safest in a booster seat that enables the adult seat belt to fit properly. Even when children have transitioned from booster seats, they should remain in the back seat until they reach the age of 13.

3. Take your time when traveling with kids.

When you hear the all-too-familiar howl from the back seat that means “I want food” or “change my diaper,” don’t worry about making good time. Instead, get off at the next exit and find a safe area to feed or change your child.

4. Share the road – and the wheel.

Map out your route before you leave, making note of any construction zones or closures that could affect your itinerary. Leave earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic, and let your friends and family know when you plan to arrive.

If you’re driving long distances, divvy up driving responsibilities between drivers in your group. If you start to feel tired, pull over and switch with another driver or stop and rest until you’re able to drive safely.

6. Be prepared for bad weather.

Inclement weather can turn even a short road trip into a white-knuckle ride. Before you leave, check the weather forecast and be aware of possible snowy or icy conditions.

Stay off the road during bad weather, if possible. If you have to drive during inclement weather or hit a hazardous stretch during your trip, remember to slow down, increase the distance between you and the car in front of you, and avoid all distractions to keep your focus on the road.

7.  Keep the car stocked.

In case of a travel emergency, make sure your car is stocked with everything you’ll need. This includes a first-aid kit, flashlight, ice scraper, blankets, salt or kitty litter for tire traction, and snacks for everyone in your car.

Make sure cell phones are charged before you depart in case you need to call for help or use your phone’s GPS for directions. And always have a paper map on hand, just in case.

8. More time means less stress.

Giving yourself more than enough time to get to your destination, in case you run into traffic or bad weather. Some stress during the holidays is unavoidable, but a little planning before your trip can help keep the holidays safe and fun.


Next steps:

Halloween safety

Don’t let real dangers take the fun out of Halloween

Before you head out for trick-or-treating with your little ghouls and goblins, princesses and superheroes, take a few moments to think about – and talk to your kids about – safety. As fun as it is, Halloween is also unfortunately the most dangerous night of the year for children – twice as many kids are killed on Halloween night, usually in pedestrian accidents – as any other day of the year.

A few moments to consider safety will help keep the night fun, not dangerous.

For parents and kids:

1. Check costumes before you leave the house. Decorate your children’s costumes with reflective materials and, if possible, choose light colors that can be seen in the dark. Make sure masks or wigs do not obstruct the child’s vision, and make sure they can walk without tripping or dragging any part of their costume.

2. Carry flashlights or glow sticks. These will help trick-or-treaters see and be seen by drivers.

3. Review safe pedestrian behaviors with kids before heading out.

4. Cross the street safely at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks if they’re available. Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross. Walk, don’t run, across the street.

5. Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.

6. Slow down and stay alert. Watch out for cars that are turning or backing up, and never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.

7. While pedestrian safety is a main concern on Halloween, parents and kids should also be careful when dealing with candy. Remind children to only eat treats in original and unopened wrappers. It’s best to wait until you get home and can inspect candy under good lighting.

For drivers:

8. Be sure to turn your full headlights on between 6-8 p.m., Lexington and Fayette County’s designated time for trick-or-treating.

9. Slow down in residential neighborhoods and be on the lookout for kids who may dart out unexpectedly. Some may be wearing dark clothing.

10. Be especially alert and take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.

11. Slowly and carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys.

12. Reduce any distractions inside your car, such as talking on the phone or eating, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.


Next steps:

  • Before your kids leave the house in search of candy, make sure their costumes are as safe as they are spooky. Check out our guide for Halloween costume safety.
  • Happy Halloween from all of us here at UK HealthCare! Have fun and be safe, and remember,  our Makenna David Pediatric Emergency Center is always open in case you need us.
New Year's resolutions

New Year’s resolutions: Small changes can make a big difference

Resolving to make your health a priority this year? That’s terrific, but it can be tough to know just where to start.

The key is to think small. Rather than trying to make wholesale lifestyle changes that can be virtually impossible to maintain, try making small changes that can add up to big progress over time.

Try these:

Get moving. If you’ve been inactive, vowing to go to the gym every single day will probably backfire. Instead, go to the gym one more day a week than you’ve been going, or just find small ways to add movement to your day by parking your car farther from your destination, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or getting up from your desk once an hour to walk around.

Be mindful of your food. Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your meals each day. Eat slowly and stop eating when you feel full.

Step away from the sugar. Too much sugar can increase your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes. If you enjoy soft drinks, allow yourself one once in a while as a treat, but otherwise drink unsweetened tea or sparkling water. (Remember that diet drinks are not a good option; studies show they can actually lead to weight gain and other issues.)

Drink more water. Staying hydrated has a wealth of health benefits such as better digestion, improved kidney function and controlled appetite. Try keeping a water bottle at your desk and setting a reminder to drink every two hours.

Appreciate your shuteye. Adequate sleep is a great investment in your health, so don’t scrimp – you need at least seven hours a night. If you have trouble falling asleep, limit your caffeine consumption, especially after lunch.

Cut yourself some slack. Improving your health is a long-term effort, so don’t let one mistake or setback get you down. Instead, resolve to do better going forward.

Share your efforts. Having a support system can make your resolutions seem less overwhelming, so talk with friends and family members about your health goals, struggles and successes.


Next steps:

  • Want a weekly dose of health and wellness information? Sign up for our HealthMatters e-newsletter, which is packed with useful tips and advice and delivered to your inbox once a week.
  • If you’ve resolved to quit smoking, we can help. Check out these tobacco cessation resources and subscribe to this blog for upcoming features on how to quit.
Healthy Thanksgiving tips

4 tips for a healthy Thanksgiving

Make Thanksgiving happy and healthy this year with our top tips for a guilt-free holiday.

1. Take a deep breath.

Between cleaning your house, preparing the holiday meal and dealing with family, Thanksgiving can quickly go from celebratory to stressful. Here a few ways to keep stress at a minimum:

  • Enlist a family member or guest to help with food prep, or divide your list among your guests and ask everyone to bring a dish.
  • Practice deep breathing. Taking deep breaths when you get stressed out will help lower your heart rate and will trigger your body’s natural relaxation response.
  • Take regular breaks from preparing dinner to chat with friends and family or simply rest your feet.

2. Make time for a turkey trot.

Get some exercise earlier in the day, before you sit down at the dinner table. A brisk 30-minute walk can burn between 100-200 calories and help get you on the right side of the day’s calorie count.

3. Avoid overconsumption.

Before you begin, scan the table and decide what looks best, then fill your plate with reasonable-sized portions of those foods. Try to avoid second helpings.

Eating a small, healthy breakfast – like whole-grain cereal or whole-wheat toast – can also help curb your appetite before dinner and help you feel fuller faster.

4. Enjoy yourself

Think about your health this holiday, but remember, it’s just one day.  If you do go for that second slice of pumpkin pie or extra helping of stuffing, it’s not the end of the world. Enjoy yourself and the company of friends and family on Thanksgiving, while resolving to make healthy choices part of your year-round lifestyle.


Next steps:

Halloween safety

12 tips for a fun, safe Halloween

Twice as many children are killed or injured while walking on Halloween than on any other day of the year. But Halloween doesn’t have to be the scariest night of the year for parents, kids or drivers.

Here are Safe Kids Fayette County’s top tips to help make this year’s Halloween fun and safe.

For parents and kids:

1. Emphasize safe pedestrian behaviors to kids before they go trick-or-treating.
2. Cross the street safely at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross. Walk, don’t run, across the street.
3. Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. Children should walk on direct  routes with the fewest street crossings.
4. Slow down and stay alert. Watch out for cars that are turning or backing up, and never dart out into the street or cross between parked  cars.
5. Costumes can be both creative and safe. Decorate your children’s costumes with reflective materials and, if possible, choose light colors that can be seen in the dark. Masks can obstruct a child’s vision, so choose nontoxic face paint, makeup and wigs instead.
6. Carry flashlights or glow sticks. These will help trick-or-treaters see and be seen by drivers.
7. While pedestrian safety is a main concern on Halloween, parents and kids should also be careful when dealing with candy. Remind children to only eat treats in original and unopened wrappers.

Top tips for Halloween safety

For drivers:

8. Slow down in residential neighborhoods and school zones.
9. Be sure to turn your full headlights on between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m., the most popular trick-or- treating hours.
10. Be especially alert and take extra time to look  for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
11. Slowly and carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys.
12. Reduce any distractions inside your car, such as talking on the phone or eating, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.


Next steps:

Forgetfulness or dementia? How to tell the difference in elderly loved ones

If you’re spending time with elderly friends and family members this holiday season, be aware of noticeable changes in their memory and behavior, as these can be early warning signs of dementia.

“If you haven’t seen your elderly loved one in a while, you might be more likely to notice changes in their memory and behavior that worries you,” said Dr. Gregory Jicha of the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.

Here are some early warning signs of dementia that you might notice in an older friend or family member:

  • It’s normal for someone to forget a date or a name but suddenly remember it later. However, pay attention if they ask for the same information repeatedly, or struggle to recall important dates (like their own birthdate).
  • Are they having trouble following a recipe? Problem-solving skills can deteriorate in someone with Alzheimer’s.
  • Do they get lost when driving to a familiar location? If they have difficulty completing familiar tasks, it might be a sign of AD.
  • Healthy people occasionally struggle to find the right word, but using the wrong word  ̶  particularly if they call something by the wrong name  ̶  merits further scrutiny.
  • Poor judgment: are they giving lots of money to telemarketers or charities?
  • Poor hygiene.
  • Personality changes: are they suddenly irrational, fearful or suspicious?

Memory infographic

If you see any behavior that worries you, talk to your doctor. To make an appointment with a UK HealthCare doctor, visit our Appointment page or call 800-333-8874 today.

More information:

The Memory Disorders Clinic at the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute

 

Tips for a safe holiday trip

November marks the beginning of heavy travel as families and friends gather for the holidays. Whether you and your family are going by plane, train, boat or automobile, remember to keep safety in mind for each member of your family.

The facts

  • Holiday travel is a time when there is a risk of injuries in a variety of areas.
  • Road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children.
  • Correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent.

Top 10 holiday tips

  1. Check your car seat before holiday travel. Be familiar with the child safety restraint laws in the state you will be traveling to (or through).
  1. Bulky coats and car seats don’t mix. If it’s cold outside, cover babies and young children with a thick blanket to keep them warm, after they’re strapped securely into their seat. Bulky winter clothes and coats can keep a car seat harness from doing its job.
  1. Use booster seats and the backseat. Kids who have outgrown a forward-facing harness seat are not ready for a seat belt or front seat yet. They are safest in a booster seat that enables the adult seat belt to fit properly. Even when children have transitioned from booster seats, they should remain in the back seat until they reach the age of 13.
  1. Have an exit strategy for fussy kids. When you hear the all too familiar howl that means “I want food” or “change my diaper,” don’t worry about making good time. Instead, get off at the next exit and find a safe area to feed or change your child.
  1. Remember the car seat for air travel. If traveling by air, use a car seat that is labeled “certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.” For babies and toddlers, this is the safest way to travel.
  1. Keep medicines and small objects out of sight. Before arriving at your destination, talk to friends and relatives about being extra careful to keep small objects away from young kids. This includes medications, which can look like candy, button batteries, and other objects that are small enough for children to swallow.
  1. Engage older kids in cooking. It can be fun to get kids involved holiday meal prep. It’s also a great chance to teach them kitchen safety tips.
  1. Double check fireplace screens. Check to see if the home you’re visiting has any fireplaces and make sure they’re protected by a sturdy screen. Keep little ones away from this area.
  1. Plan for safe sleep and more. Make sure your baby has a safe place to sleep such as a portable pack-n-play. It’s a great time to check that where you’re staying has a working carbon monoxide alarm and smoke alarm.
  1. Wear proper gear for winter sports. Send kids outside in the cold with proper gear such as helmets when they’re skiing, snowboarding or playing ice hockey.