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How to stay healthy during the holidays

How to stay healthy during the holidays. Text says Don't turn your vacation days into sick days.

It’s a familiar, frustrating scenario: You finally make it to vacation and within a day, you’re crashed on the couch, sick. Or the pressure lets up after the chaos of holiday preparations and instead of celebrating with family, you end up in bed with a fever.

People really do get sick at a higher rate during vacations and holiday breaks. Between the stress that precedes a break, and exposure to more viruses and bacteria during travel and gatherings, your immunity decreases with the added stressors. Sickness is not inevitable though.

Here are 6 ways to stay healthy through the holiday season:

#1: Mask when flying. We recommend masking if you’ll be traveling by air (or rail) to avoid COVID-19, flu and other respiratory viruses. Even pre-pandemic, airport crowds and cramped planes created the perfect conditions for getting sick. Stay well with the single step of donning a mask! (Bonus: if you fall asleep with your mouth open no one knows!)

#2: Check in on your guests. If you have houseguests arriving or find yourself at your destination with symptoms of flu, COVID or another virus, come by one of our clinics. We can test right then and there and if appropriate, prescribe medication. Plus, you’ll know whether to isolate  or not.

#3: Keep up on prescriptions. If you take medication, be sure to stay on a schedule, take holiday closures into account so you don’t run out and bring your medications with you if you travel!

#4: Get your sleep. The excitement of the holidays, end-of-school activities and the extra layer of holiday-related tasks can wear you out. Don’t skimp on your sleep — a tired body won’t be as strong to defend against illness.

#5 Stay hydrated. Drink extra water when traveling. Be mindful of changes in the environment based on your destination. You might need even more water than you think.

#6: Wash your hands! We know you know. But it’s worth a reminder!

Mug of tea with text What to do if you think you're getting sick

If you feel yourself getting sick, take these measures:

  • It’s the hardest time of year to do this but limit your sugar intake. Sugar causes inflammation and if your body is fighting something, it doesn’t need the extra work.
  • Keep eating and make it healthy food. Your body needs fuel to fight off whatever is ailing you. That old saying about feeding a fever, starving a cold is not good medical advice!
  • Double your water intake. Whether it’s with water, tea or a favorite warm, low-sugar drink, staying hydrated will give your body the resources it needs for the immune system to do its work.
  • If you use over-the-counter medications, follow instructions carefully and choose the right form. For example, if you’re congested, remember that the best delivery mechanism for medication is a spray — oral decongestants are far less effective. Other OTC meds like mucolytics require extra water intake. 
  • Rest up. Give in and let your body focus on fighting the good fight. Healing happens when we’re asleep. So, snuggle in, close the curtains and turn off the lights. You’ll recover faster and more fully.
  • Steer clear of others. We know this is a hard one during the holidays. But the best gift you can give this season is to keep your illness to yourself. This might mean opting out of a party or gathering – but people will understand and appreciate your decision.

Most colds and minor illness will resolve without a trip to urgent care, but if you find yourself falling into one of the following categories, head to a SouthStar Urgent Care clinic for help.

  • Not getting better after a few days might mean you need medical help. Come see us.
  • A very sore throat could be strep, which requires antibiotics to resolve. Come in for help.
  • Coughing that isn’t going away should be checked out to rule out pneumonia and other causes.
  • A fever that runs over 101 for more than a couple of days, or that can’t be managed with medication, should be seen by a medical professional.
  • Stomach issues that are severe or persist for more than 24 hours? Head our way for some relief.
  • Dizziness that isn’t resolved with electrolytes or rest needs attention. Come see us.

Do NOT come to us with: sudden, severe headache, chest pain or difficulty breathing call for immediate help. Dial 911 or visit the emergency department at the hospital.

“Probably the best thing someone can do if they feel illness coming on, is to rule out the flu, COVID or RSV,” says Frank Garber, NP. “Our clinics have fast, accurate PCR testing equipment — one swab and we quickly know what we’re dealing with and can get you started on the right treatment regimen. You’ll also know whether you need to isolate or not so you can make informed decisions and prevent the spread of illness.”

From all of us at SouthStar Urgent Care, we wish you a happy, healthy holiday season that’s light on stress and heavy on joy.

Reviewed by: Frank Garber, NP

If you are in a situation that might be life-threatening, go straight to the emergency room or call 911. Situations like this include: Shortness of breath or breathing problems. Seizures or ‘blackouts’. Sudden vision problems. Confusion or dizziness. Heavy bleeding. Possible breaks that appear to be deformed or blue, or that include bleeding. Serious burns. The inability to speak or move. Head and neck injuries.


Traveling or hosting during the holidays. We can help. Walk in.