An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Okay, not quite. But eating your fruits and vegetables during the cough and cold season does provide antioxidants and vitamins that boost your immune system. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes, in addition to tomatoes, red and green peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and cantaloupe, are great sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital for healing wounds, protecting bones and teeth and protecting the body.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Per the Mayo Clinic, an adult male of normal health living in a normal climate needs 15.5 cups of fluid a day, and a woman of normal health living in a normal climate needs 11.5 cups. This doesn’t include drinks that dehydrate you, like coffee, caffeinated teas, or alcohol. Maintaining hydration allows the body to send appropriate hunger signals and maintain optimal function – meaning limiting illness.
Keep Up With Exercise
Maintaining health should be an everyday thing. One way to maintain a healthy body is through exercise. This can be walking daily, riding your bike with friends and family, or a more regimented workout routine. Keep this up during the holidays. While it may look varied if you have to travel during the holidays, maintain some healthy activity. Exercise maintains muscle, which helps maintain body weight, and boosts cardiovascular health, which may lower the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
Wash Your Hands
This may seem basic, but if there is anything the last few years taught us, people must be reminded to wash their hands. Whatever the reason, handwashing stations have become more available. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water after touching common touch points like railings, chairs, escalators, or door handles. If you can’t remember how long to wash your hands, sing Jingle Bells in your head. No sink nearby? Consider carrying sanitizer or washing or looking for sanitizer stations.
Get Your ZZZZZs
A healthy amount of sleep helps reset your body’s functions. According to John Hopkins, “a healthy amount of sleep is vital for ‘brain plasticity,’ or the brain’s ability to adapt to input,” in addition to lowering your immune system – which can make you prone to getting sick. Think of sleep as the body’s reset button – it processes the day, heals any issues, and boosts your body’s functions for the next day.
While meditating on a busy train or practicing mindful breathing while waiting in the school pick-up line may seem silly, these are important tools for maintaining health. The holidays are a busy time of year, with increased time and schedule demands. Remain mindful of your limitations – don’t be afraid to say no to a third potluck that week because you don’t have the time to make a dish. Take time for yourself, daily if possible, through meditation, mindful breathing, or even yoga. Managing your stress will increase your ability to enjoy the fun you have planned during the holidays.
Just like getting in your fruits and veggies, make sure to be mindful of your eating. Eat slowly, instead of rushing so you can listen to your body’s hunger cues. Indulge in the holiday treats, but maybe not every day. Maintaining healthy nutrition will maintain your energy and ability to enjoy the holiday festivities.
Cheers, in Moderation
Like any time of year, if you choose to indulge in alcohol, do so in moderation. Alcohol can lower your hunger cues, causing you to eat more and disrupt your normal sleeping patterns if you have more than a few adult beverages. Mix up alcoholic drinks with mocktails and water.
This one may be difficult. Maybe you’ve got your friend’s daughter or son’s dance recital to see, or you are checking out the local Nutcracker production for the holidays. If you are joining larger gatherings than you have in years past, consider the fact that for years, these individuals may have been wearing masks, and now they aren’t. People may not remember coughing into their elbow, so they share their sneezing or cough with the room. Boosting and protecting your immune system while there, cleaning your hands frequently, and avoiding touching your mouth, hands, or eyes after touching something that doesn’t belong to you may limit exposure to cold and flu viruses.
This doesn’t mean you won’t get sick ever. In fact, getting ill boosts antibodies and helps your overall health, but no one wants to be sick over the holidays. If you get sick, take breaks – limit the sugar intake, skip the packed auditorium, and stay home to rest and hydrate appropriately. Call your medical provider to be evaluated if an illness lasts several days or a fever persists despite anti-fever medications.