Talking to your patients about holiday health and safety can help them maximize their holiday season.

Travel nursing tips: Holiday health and safety advice for your patients

Working holiday shifts as a travel nurse is a busy time. Inevitably there will be patients seeking care for regular check-ups and others for winter-related injuries. As one of your standard duties, you can use the time with your patients to give care and educate. However, patient education over the holidays can include healthy and safety tips specific to the season. Here are some fundamental areas to consider talking to your patients about this winter:

Eating tips
The holidays are full of hearty meals and decadent deserts. If your patients do not exercise moderation, they may gain unwanted weight. Beyond adding weight, overeating these fatty and sugary foods is not beneficial for their well-being.

The Cleveland Clinic said that moderation is the key to healthy holiday eating. Explain to your patients that this can be achieved by limiting holiday snacks and treats from your home and office. Instead, suggest leaving a portion for family and give the rest out as gifts.

That does not mean that your patients have to eliminate holiday treats completely. As a compromise, the Cleveland Clinic proposed that people should treat themselves to one cheat snack per day, whether that be a serving of cheesy potatoes or cookies. This, balanced with exercise and portion control throughout the rest of the day, will leave your patients satisfied and healthy while still enjoying the traditional hearty dishes of the season.

Everyone is busy during the holidays, making healthy eating even more challenging. Reader's Digest said that filling the freezer with quick and healthy meals can allow individuals to still stick to a balanced diet, even during the rush of the season.

Exercise tips
Staying active in the winter months, and especially around the holidays, can be particularly difficult due to icy, snowy weather and busy schedules. Try to get your patients excited about staying fit by suggesting fun exercise alternatives. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested listening to holiday music when working out or simply dancing to favorite seasonal songs. The CDC said that adults should aim to be active for 2.5 hours per week, while children and teenagers should have at least one hour of exercise per day.

Safety tips
Staying safe throughout the holidays can be tricky between the weather, traveling, decorating and potential choking hazards. Remind your patients that being overly cautious is better than not. This is especially true for  seniors and patients with small children.

To prevent decorating-related injuries, emphasize the importance of safe practices. Use sturdy step stools and ladders to put up decorations and lights instead of using furniture. Another holiday risk factor is fires. According to the CDC, the majority of home fires take place in the winter due to unattended fireplaces, stoves and candles.

Discuss choking hazards and what to do during a choking emergency, especially with patients who have small children. The holidays are particularly dangerous for choking hazards because of the different types of food, new toys and decorations. With the bustle of the holidays, it is easy for toddlers to be left unattended, so talk to your patients about feeding guidelines for small children (bite size pieces, consistency, etc.) and what types of toys and decorations are potential hazards.

Finally, talk to your patients about the importance of a flu shot, if they have yet to get one. There are many myths surrounding flu vaccination, so try asking them why they have not scheduled an appointment yet and explain how the shot actually benefits their health and the health of their loved ones.

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