3 Tips to Prevent Getting Sick During the Holidays
Getting sick during the holidays is not an inevitability. You have far more control over getting a cold or flu than you realize. So today I’m sharing 3 tips to prevent getting sick during holidays – in other words, how to not get sick. They’re simple tips, but reminders I think we could all use.
It seems everyone starts to get sick around the holidays, doesn’t it? That’s why we say things like “it’s just that time of year” or it’s “cold and flu season.” We blame the cold weather, the crowds of people, stressful holiday travel and coughing children – who seem to be spreading germs everywhere.
So you do your best not to catch the bug but invariably it seems to find you. Do you just have bad luck? Are you “that person” who is just always gonna get sick?
For years I thought I was that person. But after adopting healthier habits, understanding how the immune system functions and being more mindful of my body I started to take notice that it wasn’t just around the winter holidays – Thanksgiving and Christmas – when people suddenly got sick. They also frequently got sick after Easter. And 4th of July. And Labor Day weekend.
This was my lightbulb moment! Because there are three things that we tend to do during ALL holidays that significantly weaken our immune system, making us more prone to coughs, colds and flus.
In other words, it’s not just bad luck. These colds are attracted to us because of what we’re doing to ourselves. But good news! We can easily rectify our actions and boost or immune system with these three very simple tips.
3 Tips to Prevent Getting Sick During the Holidays
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Ensure You’re Getting 8 Hours of Sleep
I’ve talked numerous times about the importance of sleep because I feel so strongly about the important role that it plays in our wellness. I’ve given you 10 Tips for Better Sleep and if Downshiftology was built on top of 3 pillars, sleep would definitely be one of those pillars (along with healthy food and stress management).
But let’s talk about sleep as it relates to the holidays. During holidays we tend to compromise sleep because we stay out late, enjoying time with family and friends. We have parties that go late into the evening, if not the early morning.
So instead of 8 hours of beautiful, restorative sleep, we’re probably getting about half that during holidays. And here’s the clincher – lack of sleep significantly impairs the immune system.
Studies show that if you don’t get enough quality sleep you’re more likely to sick after being exposed to a cold or virus. And that’s because certain disease-fighting chemicals, proteins and substances are released when we sleep. So if you deprive yourself of sleep, you deprive yourself of a fully functioning immune system.
- THE FIX: Make sure to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep, even if that means leaving the holiday party early. In terms of quality sleep, you also want to make sure that you’re not bombarding your immune system with toxic, foreign substances that may be lurking in your mattress while you are sleeping. That’s why I highly recommend Naturepedic mattresses which are 100% organic and made from high quality materials. It’s also what I have in my bedroom.
Say No to Wine and Other Alcohol
Work parties, dinner parties and other social gatherings are always scheduled more frequently around holidays. Socializing with friends and family is great and can give you an oxytocin boost with all the love and hugs, but if that socializing also includes indulging in a bit more wine or alcohol, you’ve now impaired your immune system.
As little as one alcoholic drink can significantly impair your immune system for up to 24 hours. And that 24 hour period is, you guessed it, right after you did all that hugging and kissing and were likely exposed to foreign viruses and bacteria.
Your immune system is a complex, highly interconnected system throughout the body. But the cornerstone of your immune system is your gut – because 70-80% of your immune system is comprised of the cells and tissue in your digestive tract.
So what exactly happens when you consume alcohol? It immediately affects the structure and integrity of the gut. It alters the microbes in your gut, impairs the communication between your microbiome and immune cells and it disrupts gut barrier function creating a leaky gut that’s now more susceptible to cold and flu viruses and bacteria.
- THE FIX: Abstain from all alcohol (ideally). But if you do have a drink, keep it to one. Drink it slowly over a long period of time (i.e. nurse it throughout the night) and eat healthy food to slow the absorption of the alcohol. Also key – make sure to drink a full glass of water afterwards to rehydrate your body.
Steer Clear of Sugary Sweets and Desserts
Nothing says it’s a holiday more than cakes, cookies and desserts. Just think of the candy aisle at the supermarket around Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s – it’s all about the chocolates and sweets – in the form of Santas, Bunnys and hearts.
But when it comes to your immune system, sugar is absolutely one of biggest culprits of weakening your immune system.
Studies have shown that when you consume sugar your immune system slacks off and instead of your white blood cells attacking and eating bad bacteria that enters your body, they just simply ignore it. Your immune system literally goes into a sugar coma and stops functioning as it should.
Now, it’s also important to remember that sugar is sugar in terms of it’s impact on the immune system. So whether you’re consuming organic chocolate, processed sugar, honey or maple syrup – from either a slice of cake, a piece of pie, a chocolate Santa or a fruity cocktail (which is a double whammy) – the outcome will be the same. Your immune system becomes depressed and you are more likely to get the common cold or flu.
- THE FIX: Avoid sugary treats and desserts. I know this is hard during holidays as it’s so ingrained in our culture to celebrate with sweets. But remembering that each sweet treat will weaken your immune system more and more, you’ll hopefully now stop after just one bite or small portion.
So there you have it – three simple tips to prevent getting sick during the holidays. By prioritizing sleep and limiting alcohol and sugar you’ll have a stronger, healthier immune system to enjoy all the holidays throughout the year. Happy holidays!
Thank you to Naturepedic for sponsoring this post and video. Naturepedic believes that quality sleep is central to a healthy and happy life and I’m happy to partner with them. All thoughts and opinions are my own.