The holidays are a happy time, filled with laughter, love and joyous gatherings with family and friends. But it’s also one of the busiest times of year, which can make it difficult to maintain your normal health routine.
From Christmas cookies and candy canes to 20-pound turkeys with all the trimmings, we often indulge during the holiday season. Plus, holiday travel, lack of sleep and the emergence of flu season also can make it challenging to stay healthy during this time of year.
So, what can you do? There are several ways you can have a happy holiday without compromising your health. Here are five tips to help you stay healthy this holiday season:
Beware of Germs
If you’re traveling or making frequent visits to the mall this holiday season, it might be a good to time to drop a bottle of hand sanitizer in your purse.
We all have germs on our hands, but during the holiday season we may have more contact with shared public spaces such as mall doors, elevator buttons, airplane bathrooms and arm rests. Whether you’re eating or yawning, your hand may constantly touch your mouth, which can put you at greater risk for viruses like the cold and flu, especially if you’ve touched a surface with these viruses.
Using hand sanitizer is a great way to minimize these germs. If you’re traveling on a plane, bus or train for the holidays, it also doesn’t hurt to have disinfectant wipes. Studies have shown that armrests, tray tables and latches on planes carry many germs, and in some cases researchers even have found the flu virus on these surfaces. While I’m not encouraging you to become a germophobe, it’s best to protect yourself from unnecessary germs as much as possible. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry—or sick.
Indulge, But Not Too Much
Peppermint bark, eggnog and sugary cookies are a few of our favorite things during the holidays, but they’re not the most heart-healthy foods to consume.
People tend to overeat and overindulge during the holidays, especially with desserts and alcohol. That’s why so many New Year’s resolutions include losing weight.
Instead of trying to burn all those calories come January, why not follow a simple rule: everything in moderation. Snack on one Christmas cookie instead of four and pour that eggnog into a smaller glass, or better yet, buy the reduced fat versions that many supermarkets now carry.
If you’re cooking at home during the holidays, find recipes that offer lighter versions of your favorite holiday indulgences. If you’re traveling, pack healthy snacks such as nuts, granola bars and dried fruits that will help you avoid temptations while you’re on-the-go.
And don’t forget to exercise. Even a 20-min walk on the treadmill or at your local park is better than doing nothing at all.
Drink Plenty of Water
You’ve probably heard your doctor say it a thousand times: drink eight glasses of water a day.
While staying hydrated is important year-round, during the holiday season we often trade H20 for sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages. Drinking plenty of water can help keep your airways moist, making them less vulnerable to viruses and bacteria that circulate during the holiday season.
Drinking enough water also helps clean out toxins from your system, helps you maintain muscle and helps your skin to look and feel its best. So, drink up!.
Get Enough Sleep
Think you’re too busy this holiday season to get enough sleep? You should probably reconsider that notion.
Sleep energizes the body and boosts the immune system. If you don’t get enough rest, you’ll wear down the body’s natural defenses and make yourself more susceptible to illnesses like the cold and flu. Research has proven this: a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that people who slept at least eight hours a night were three less likely to catch a cold than those who slept less than seven hours.
Get Check Ups & Vaccinations
Watching what you eat, exercising and protecting yourself from germs are all important during the holiday season, but so is basic prevention.
The holiday season coincides with the flu season. The best way to minimize your risk of the flu is to get the flu vaccine. Also, when people feel ill during the holiday season, they often wait until the New Year to address the issue. However, it’s critical that you see your doctor if you don’t feel well for an extended period of time. It’s always better to diagnose and treat any potential problems early rather than wait. If you’re traveling this holiday season, it also might be beneficial to schedule a regular check-up beforehand.
Your health should be a priority every day of the year, especially during the holiday season. Between Christmas shopping and holiday travel, we all get very busy during this time of year.
However, if you want to have the happiest holiday possible, continue to maintain the healthy routines you’ve followed throughout the previous 11 months. It’s the best way to truly enjoy the holidays and successfully ring in the new year.