December is loaded with health significance – it’s the end of the calendar year, which is a time of reflection for many of us. It’s also a month packed with holidays, emotion, stress, and, often, calories. Here are five tips to help you navigate the rapids of December and emerge in the New Year stronger and healthier.
1) December 1 is World AIDS Day. Use World AIDS Day as a reminder, even if December 1 sped past you, to assess your sexual health this past year. Are you being safe? Can you identify the triggers for when you’re not? We can all use this date as a reminder to look ahead to the end of the month to plan a sexually safe New Year’s Eve. Are you getting appropriate routine screening for all kinds of sexually transmitted diseases – many of which can increase the risk of AIDS transmission? How long has it been since you were tested for HIV? Consider calling in December for an appointment and getting yourself “checked under the hood.” Don’t have a doctor or insurance? Free or low-cost clinics are available in most communities, and many are less busy during this month – but they’re often packed in January. Now’s a great time to take care of yourself.
Recent TV reports have highlighted the risky sexual behavior of many teens. Probably this data doesn’t apply to your kid, but it’s still a great opportunity for you. How? Wait until your teen is trapped in the car with you, then use the Tyra Banks survey/show as a starting point, and take the time this month to have The Talk. Again. Can’t face having the discussion with your kid? Consider a swap – you’ll drag your friend’s kid, and talk to him/her, while your friend has The Talk with yours. AIDS prevention is too important to let awkwardness leave your teens uninformed about values and protection.
World AIDS Day also reminds us to look beyond our own borders to the face of AIDS everywhere, and consider helping others. Check out this lovely BBC story about a real-life Mary and Joseph and their newborn in Africa.
2) December 3 is National Roof Over Your Head Day. With financial stress affecting almost all segments of society, all of us are feeling the pinch.