Grandpa and child reading together.

How to Spend Quality Time with Loved Ones

Now that the holidays are here, it’s a great opportunity to reconnect with your family and friends. However, with phones, computers, and TV taking up so much of our attention, it can be difficult to think of activities that don’t involve screens. This year, why not try to create moments that contribute to your well-being and nurture your relationships? Here are some screen-free, healthy activities to make this season special.

Cook a Healthy Meal Together

Cooking together is a fantastic way to bond and promote healthy eating habits. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, meals made together as a family typically lead to better nutrition, promote healthier behaviors, and can lead to smarter eating in the future. Choose a healthy recipe, shop for ingredients together, and cook a meal as a team.

Family going on a hike together.

Take a Nature Walk

Nature has a huge effect on our mental health and has been linked to improved mood and cognitive function. Gather your loved ones for a walk in a local park, forest, or nature reserve. The physical activity, coupled with the calmness of being outside, will help you feel refreshed.

Engage in Volunteer Work

The act of giving not only helps those in need but can also be incredibly fulfilling. Research shows that volunteering is associated with lower depression, increased well-being, and reduced stressed levels. This holiday, consider volunteering at a local shelter, food bank, or charity event as a family.

Girl crafting with beads.

Create DIY Gifts

Crafting can be a therapeutic activity that stimulates creativity and helps reduce anxiety. Organize a craft night with your loved ones where you can make gifts for each other. Not only does this provide a meaningful present, but it also creates a space for conversation and laughter.

Practice Group Meditation or Yoga

Meditation and yoga are known for their stress-relieving qualities. In fact, studies have shown yoga can lessen chronic stress patterns, relax the mind, and sharpen concentration. Invite your family to join a yoga session or meditate together to find peace and calm during the hustle of the holiday season.

Attend Community Events

Local holiday events like tree-lighting ceremonies, markets, and choirs are a wonderful way to connect with your community and spend time with loved ones. These activities can enrich your holiday experience and create lasting memories.

Family playing game together.

Play Games

Board games, card games, and physical games like tag or charades encourage face-to-face interaction and can be a lot of fun. Playing games together as a family also helps create emotional connection and positive communication.

Making The Season Merry

Incorporating these activities into your holiday plans can lead to a richer, more fulfilling season. Remember, the heart of the holiday is not about the flurry of activities, but about the warmth and love shared between family and friends. So, this year, let’s turn off our screens and turn toward each other, creating healthy, joyful memories that will last a lifetime.

Be The Example This Holiday

When it comes to good physical and mental health, lead by example. AltaMed has all manner of resources to help you eat right, move right, and take better care of yourself. Let our team of bilingual certified enrollment counselors help you explore program options that work best for you and your family. 

Call AltaMed at (888) 499-9303.

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Cut Back on Screen Time to Boost Mental Health

We have access to more information than any generation before us. Nearly all of human knowledge is at our fingertips, twenty-four hours a day. But whether you want to find a new recipe, watch a viral video, or stay informed about current events, you need a screen.

For many people, screens have become an essential part of how we do things. We’re surrounded by them – in our pockets, our offices, our living rooms, bedrooms, and even on our wrists. We can decide, however, how much time we spend on them. Limiting screen time has been shown to improve our mood and help us engage with the people and activities that matter most.

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Ways to Manage Screen Time

We’ve made a habit at looking at our phones. Anytime we’re not having conversations, we’re gaming or scrolling through social media. Sometimes we need a little quiet time. That’s when we’re at our most creative.

Here are some tips for reducing the amount of time you spend on your device.

  • Manage news consumption — We are constantly bombarded with news. While it’s important to stay informed, we don’t need to know everything every second. It’s OK to pause the 24-hour news cycle.
  • Turn off notifications — Do you really need to know that someone posted a vacation photo or a picture of their meal? Keep track of appointments, but the social media updates can go.
  • Stay focused — If you’re looking at your phone while watching TV or worse, spending time with someone, what does that say about what you’re doing? Maybe you need to find another activity or reexamine how you conduct relationships.
  • Just eat — Mealtime should be for meals. You should savor your food. Pay attention to the conversations you’re having and notice when you’re getting full. When eating at home, make it a rule to put away your screens.
  • Set screen-free times and zones at home — It’s a good idea not to look at screens right before bed. It makes it hard to fall asleep because of the light given off by your devices. So, don’t look for at least half an hour before bedtime. See if you can make that last longer. Also designate certain parts of the house or apartment as screen-free.
  • Find screen alternatives — Go for a walk, meditate, read a book, sit outside, or find another activity that doesn’t involve looking at your device. Sitting in silence with your thoughts gives you an opportunity to process and reflect on your day.
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Benefits of Less Screen Time

Prying yourself free of your device gives you the opportunity to do different things. Here are five benefits to less screen time.

  1. Improve physical health — Putting down the phone and turning off the TV give you a chance to move. Movement can help prevent obesity and conditions related to excess weight. You’ll have more time to exercise and play. You can also get better sleep with less screen time.
  2. Discover new things — You live in Southern California where there’s always something to do. Get out and explore what’s around you. It also gives you the opportunity to try new hobbies.
  3. Connect socially — Face-to-face connections are vital to making ourselves and others feel cared for. We show our children and loved ones what’s truly important when we put our phones down and spend time with them.
  4. Boost your mood — Time spent on a screen makes it easier to withdraw and become depressed. Once you’re off the phone, you’re more inclined to engage socially with others. It can also help to eliminate feelings of anxiety and depression.
  5. Build community — With the phone out of your hand you can build stronger connections with:
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Neighbors
  • Coworkers

Mental Health Is Part of Your Health

AltaMed is here for you, and we’re committed to your mental and physical well-being. To learn more about AltaMed behavioral health services, call 855-425-1777.

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Staying Healthy over the Holidays

The last few holiday seasons have been a blur of social distancing, masks, and safety warnings. Now that the COVID-19 health emergency has ended, it’s a little safer to get together, but we still need to take precautions. Not only is the coronavirus still a risk, but the flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can also cause serious health problems. 

Shopping, travel, parties, religious services, school pageants, and family gatherings will expose us to crowds, and therefore to illness. So, here’s our advice for keeping you and your family healthy all season long.

Understanding the Viruses

Here are the major viruses spreading this winter:

  • Influenza (Flu) — The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, and fatigue. The flu can lead to hospitalization, and even death, particularly in vulnerable populations like the elderly, children, and individuals with underlying health conditions.
  • COVID-19 — The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the world, and the virus continues to affect communities globally. The symptoms of COVID-19 vary widely, from mild respiratory symptoms to severe respiratory distress. Vaccination against COVID-19 is a crucial step in reducing transmission and preventing serious illness and hospitalization.
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus — RSV is a common respiratory virus that can cause mild, cold-like symptoms in adults and older children. However, it can lead to severe respiratory infections in infants and young children, older adults, and people with chronic health conditions. RSV can cause bronchiolitis and pneumonia, requiring hospitalization in some cases.
Doctor applying vaccine bandage.

Get Vaccinated

Getting vaccinated against these infections is a proactive measure that benefits both individuals and the community at large. Here's why it's crucial:

  • Protection for You — Vaccines provide immunity against diseases, reducing your risk of falling ill and experiencing severe complications. That means you won’t miss the best that winter has to offer.
  • Protection for Others — By getting vaccinated, you contribute to herd immunity. This shields those who cannot be vaccinated due to medical conditions or age, preventing the spread of infections within the community.
  • Prevent Overwhelmed Health Care Systems — Vaccination helps reduce the burden on health care systems, ensuring that hospitals have enough staff and resources to effectively treat those with life-threatening illness.  

Vaccine Eligibility

Here’s how to check which vaccines your family should get this winter:

  • COVID-19 Vaccine  Anyone age six months and older should get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Individuals six years and older who have not yet been vaccinated only need one dose for full protection. Those who were vaccinated previously are encouraged to get a booster
  • RSV Vaccines and Immunizations Babies under eight months and at-risk infants between eight and 24 months should receive an RSV immunization during the RSV season (October—March). Newborns should receive an RSV immunization within one week of birth if born during the RSV season. Pregnant people in their last trimester, and adults 60 and older, should ask their doctor about an RSV vaccination.
  • Flu Vaccine — Anyone age six months and older should get an annual flu vaccine. 

Other Precautions

The viruses that cause COVID-19, RSV, and the flu are airborne. That means you’re more likely to become infected in a crowd or confined area where lots of people are breathing the same air. You can protect yourself by wearing a medical mask that fits over your nose and mouth. The mask should cover your chin and fit snugly over the bridge of your nose. You should still be able to breathe through it.

Wash Up

The viruses are transmitted when people sneeze or cough into their hands then shake someone else’s hand or touch someone’s face. If it gets into your eyes, nose, or mouth, you run the risk of getting ill. Wash your hands as soon as you get home from running errands or seeing friends. You can also carry hand sanitizer to disinfect more frequently.

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Get Rest and Eat Well

Your immune system is compromised when you’re not well-rested. It’s one of the reasons you want to sleep when you’re sick. Give yourself a break and get plenty of natural sleep to keep your body strong.

You should also eat well with plenty of lean proteins, colorful fruits, and vegetables. Limit your intake of processed meats and sugars. While there’s plenty of temptation this time of year, it’s important to have a gameplan when it comes to holiday eating.

We Have Your Back

Prioritize your health and the health of those around you this winter. Vaccination is a key strategy in the fight against infectious diseases. Getting vaccinated shows you're taking an active step toward a healthier and safer season.

All the vaccinations the CDC recommends are available at AltaMed, most at no cost to you.

It’s more important than ever to stay safe and healthy. Call us at (888) 499-9303 to schedule an appointment with your provider and stay on track to prevent these viruses from affecting you and your loved ones.

How to Spend Quality Time with Loved Ones