Mike Nichols — If you associate the month of December with colds, sinus infections, and the flu, you are not alone. Many people seem to have the misfortune of becoming sick right around the holiday season. Although there is no way to prevent every type of illness during this time of the year, there are some things you can do to help yourself stay well and healthy during the holiday season.
Keep Stress Levels in Check
During the holiday season, it is easy to get overwhelmed. There is often too much to do and not enough time to do it. There are parties to attend, gifts to buy, and family dinners to plan. When your body stays under stress for long periods of time, however, it can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to catching colds and flu. If you are constantly feeling stressed out, it is time to make some changes and try to relax. Accept that you cannot do it all. Ask family members to help with holiday planning or skip some of the holiday events that you don’t really enjoy going to anyway. Make a point to take at least 15 minutes a day to clear your mind and simply “be”.
Clean Your Hands
Germs often linger on objects after someone with a cold or flu touches them. When you handle an infected object and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes, you may then acquire the virus yourself. To avoid this happening, it is important to wash your hands frequently during the day and especially if you are around someone that you suspect is sick. You may also find it helpful to carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you. Use it after shaking hands at holiday get-togethers, touching doorknobs, handling money, or talking on office telephones.
Catch Up on Your Sleep
Holiday stress and a lack of sleep are the perfect combination for setting your body up to get sick. According to the NHS, most people sleep about 6 ½ hours, but medical studies have shown that most people need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. When this fails to happen and you get overly tired it allows your body to get run down. This can weaken and compromise your immune system. This means that if you come into contact with a cold or flu virus, your body has little chance of fighting it off, and you will most likely become sick.
Eat Healthy Meals
When you are busy taking care of your holiday to-do list, it can become tempting to skip meals or settle for junk food. Make a point to eat healthy during the holiday season. Take fruit or raw cut-up vegetables with you as you run errands and snack on them when you are in your car. If you find you are eating unhealthy, it is a good idea to take a multivitamin each day to make up for missing nutrients.
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