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Navigating Our Health: Top 5 Things to do at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all the things we are thankful for, but also a time to make positive changes in our life. As the leaves begin to fall and weather turns cooler, many of us will become consumed with the all of the hustle and bustle that goes along with the holiday season. Thanksgiving seems to get squeezed between Halloween decorations and Christmas carols. As of November 1, Christmas decorations have filled the shelves of most stores and Christmas music is playing overhead. Ready or not… The holiday season is upon us. So, before we jump head first into Christmas, let’s take a few minutes to enjoy the turkey and family fellowship.

Here are the top 5 things you can do at Thanksgiving that may improve your health:

1. Talk with your family about their health: Family medical history is such an important part of understanding your own medical risks. Your doctor uses that information to base decisions for your health such when to start your screenings or how often you should be screened. Unfortunately, families do not always openly discuss what is going on in their own health. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to check in with your relatives to see how they are feeling and if anything has changed with their medical history. It just might save your live!
2. Ask your family members if they have an advanced directive: An advanced directive is a legal document that allows you to spell out what type of care you want at the end of your life. This may include whether you want to be on a breathing machine, have a feeding tube, or just be kept comfortable. It is important to have these discussions ahead of time with your family. An advanced directive allows your family member’s voice to be heard even when they no longer can make decisions for themselves due to illness. Encourage everyone to get one of these documents and make their wishes known. It is much easier for family to follow their loved ones wishes than try to make those decision for them.
3. Take a walk after eating the Thanksgiving meal: Walking helps to lower post-meal glucose levels. This is important for individuals that have diabetes, but also those without. So, grab your family and head out for a nice stroll after dinner!
4. Laugh! Did you know laughter has been shown to decrease inflammation in the body and blood vessels, improve mood and depression, and decrease stress hormones? According to the American Heart Association, laughter has even shown to increase the “good” cholesterol in the body and may have a positive impact on heart disease.
5. Turn off the cell phone and be present: Many of us now, thanks to email delivered immediately to our cell phones, have a hard time separating work and free time. Our children are growing up in the world of electronics and texting. Face-to-face conversations are becoming a thing of the past, but yet are so important. So, for at least one day, turn off the electronic devices and be PRESENT! Your family will thank you for it.

Most of all - enjoy this time with your family!

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Carrie Snyder

Carrie Snyder, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, is the Women's Health Nurse Navigator. Carrie serves as a liaison between Beebe and the community to help community members navigate Beebe’s services.