Good news: you can win the winter game. During all the frost and family time, things can inevitably get stressful. Fortunately, there are a bunch of ways you can stay healthy as the year winds to a close. In this piece, we’ll show you how to make the most of winter with the benefits you already have in your pocket.

Get your flu shot — for free

Here’s a secret: if you get your flu shot at the same time as your yearly wellness check-up, it’s entirely free. When you visit the doctor, you’ll only have to cover your co-pay, which you would’ve had to pay for your appointment regardless. And remember — flu shots aren’t just mumbo jumbo; when entire communities get them, it creates a wider net of immunity, making it much less likely that people will get sick. So protect the people around you and pencil in an appointment.

Sign up for mail-order prescriptions

One way you can make your life easier with your health plan is by signing up for a mail order service. Getting prescriptions delivered straight to your doorstep will save you countless visits to the drugstore in the cold. Not to mention, you’ll also get cheaper prices on the prescriptions you take routinely. Run a quick search on your insurance company’s website to see how you can get started.

Get your eyes checked

Daytime is slipping away earlier and earlier, so it’s important that your eyes stay in tip-top shape. Most vision plans cover one routine eye exam every calendar year, yet half of Americans still don’t go. Going to the optometrist isn’t just a chance for you to show off your impeccable reading skills, but it can also help uncover many diseases that don’t even have symptoms. Keep your vision sharp and squeeze in an appointment as soon as you can.

Spend your FSA money

Have a flexible spending account? Then flex your spending power. You have until December 31st before your pre-tax money expires, so be sure to use up every last drop. Your FSA covers specific out-of-pocket medical expenses, like prescriptions and copays, and even some pharmacy items like band-aids and thermometers. However, before buying anything, scan your plan’s list to make sure you’re in the clear. If you’re at a loss about what to get, stock up on prescription glasses or non-perishables — like vitamin D supplements, which your sun-starved self may crave.

Don’t forget about your mental health

It goes without saying that the holidays can be hard to handle. Add less daylight to the mix, and things can go even more haywire. In fact, 1 in 20 people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression resulting from lower exposure to sunlight. But there are ways to beat it. Mental health services are an extremely underutilized service, despite the fact that there are many incredible providers out there who can help you get back on track. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Rack up the dental work

While scarfing down all those holiday treats, make sure your choppers are up to the challenge. If you’ve already passed your dental deductible (but not your yearly insurance maximum), take care of any dental work you need done. Saving up your non-serious dental work until you’ve reached your deductible means that you don’t have to pay anything at the end. However, some benefit periods aren’t contained with the calendar year, so check to see what your specific timeframe looks like.

Join a gym

As you’re starting to think about resolutions, one immediate change you can make is to join a gym. Working on your workout routine will help boost your immunity, lift your mood, and just make you feel a whole lot better. Plus, many insurance companies offer discounts for gym memberships, along with holistic benefits like acupuncture and yoga. Log on to your carrier’s website to see if you can snag a deal.

Winter doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Instead, try to use it as a time to reflect and reenergize yourself. Use it as a chance to change. Yes, it may get cold and intense at times, but by leveraging the health care benefits you already have, you can make the season a whole lot brighter.

Lauren Humphrey Lauren is a health tech veteran and a licensed producer of accident, health, and life insurance. She previously lead benefits advising and operations at Gusto.
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