The holiday season is a busy time for many people. Parties, family feasts, overscheduled days, colder weather and fewer daylight hours can lead to overindulging, exercising and sleeping less. Negative health consequences can result. With a little forethought, including making a short health list and checking it twice, you can turn that around and create your own prescription for a healthy holiday season.                                                              

 “Many of us overextend ourselves, and lose track of the healthy habits we maintain during the rest of the year,” said Dr. Arnold I. Pallay, medical director at Changebridge Medical Associates. “Being aware of your surroundings and changes in how you feel physically and emotionally can ward off unwanted health risks.”

Keeping your cholesterol in check, avoiding medication mishaps and reducing your risk of increased stress or depression can help keep the holidays bright.

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Avoid Overindulging

”Your cholesterol count is affected by diet and lack of exercise,” explained Dr. Iannetta, family physician at Changebridge Medical Associates. “When you don’t move as much, eat more high-fat foods and consume more alcohol you can increase your risk of producing high cholesterol, which is a contributing factor for a heart attack or a stroke. So keeping your cholesterol number in check during the holidays is crucial.”

According to the American Heart Association 106 million Americans age 20 and older have total blood cholesterol levels of 200 milligrams per deciliter or higher, which is a borderline reading.  Of these 37 million have a reading of 240mg/dl or higher and are considered high-risk.[i] “The best advice is to eat and drink moderately, and after dinner take a walk,” added Iannetta.

Prevent Medication Mishaps

Some of us have to take to the air or roads to pay relatives and friends a visit.  Getting ready for a trip can be overwhelming, especially when you have to pack for yourself and others.  Organization and planning ahead may help avoid stress and things forgotten, and can prevent serious mistakes with medication. 

Dr. Pallay cautions that special care should be taken when packing medications and keeping them safely out of reach of children and pets during holidays when distractions are plentiful.

Additional safety tips for traveling with medications reported by eHow[ii] include:

  • Store medications in tightly closed, original pharmacy-labeled containers for protection from heat and light
  • Place medications in carry-on luggage for easy access and to prevent loss if luggage is lost
  • Bring extra medications and keep them in a separate bag in case the first set is misplaced
  • Carry a duplicate prescription in the event a refill is needed
  • When carrying syringes, carry a copy of the prescription from the doctor
  • Have on hand in your carry-on bag a schedule and complete list of all medications, which includes name, dosage and purpose for taking each prescription
  • Keep a list of your doctors and pharmacist with complete contact information


Is it the ‘holiday blues’ or something else?

Knowing the signs of stress or the blues versus depression is important.  Dr. Iannetta helps patients recognize the signs below that might be a case of the ‘holiday blues’ rather than depression. 

  • Irritability or unusual emotionality or volatility.
  • Sleep difficulty or nightmares.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Headaches or stomachaches.
  • Unexplained fear, increased anxiety or clinging behavior.
  • Isolation from family activities or peer relationships.
  • Drug or alcohol experimentation (for teens and adolescents).

Depression is different. It lingers for weeks, months and even years.  It interferes with daily activities and the person may feel overwhelmed and helpless.  One may not know he or she is depressed at all—just that they are not feeling right. In either case talk to your physician who can help determine exactly what you are experiencing.

Enjoy the season and remember to keep an eye on your nutritional and exercise needs, get some rest and safely store and maintain use of your medications.  If you are not feeling well, be sure to consult your physician to be ready to begin the New Year in good health.


About Changebridge Medical Associates

Changebridge Medical Associates is a full-service family medical practice with a tradition of patient-focused health care for children, adults and seniors, using innovative technologies with a human touch. 

The practice is staffed by Dr. Pallay, Dr. Iannetta and Dr. Sandra Hoenig, board-certified, residency-trained physicians; board-certified residency-trained nurse practitioner Doreen Rasp, RN, APN, and board certified physician assistants Anna Chung, M.S., PA-C; Genevieve Castaneda, M.S., PA-C; and Jessica Oliveira, M.S., PA-C. Pallay and Iannetta have attending privileges at St. Clare’s, Morristown Memorial and Chilton Memorial hospitals in Morris County, N.J. Practice areas of expertise include women’s health care; sports medicine, especially for the adolescent; and geriatric evaluation and management. The practice is noted for its advanced electronic health record systems and application of genetic screening in primary care. Changebridge Medical Associates is located at 170 Changebridge Road, Suite C-3, Montville, NJ 07045. For more information, call 973-575-5540, or visit or the blog site at


[ii] eHow; “How to Travel With Prescription Medication,”­travel-prescription-medication.html