Healthy Holiday Habits: How to Stay Healthy During Flu Season
During the holidays, things are busy and schedules and routines change. You're on the go more, you probably aren't eating as healthfully, and sleep is on short supply. The flu season is also active during the winter months, which makes staying healthy even more challenging. Fortunately, there are things you can do to stay healthy and vibrant. Use these tips to learn how to build your immune system, maintain healthy habits, and prevent seasonal colds and flu from interrupting the most wonderful time of the year.
Build Your Immune System
A strong immune system is your best tool for cold and flu prevention. In addition to getting a flu shot, your natural immunity can help protect you from the viruses of the season. To keep your immune system healthy, you need to avoid the things that run you down. Proper nutrition, staying hydrated during the drier winter months, and getting enough rest are all factors that affect your body's ability to fight off infections.
- Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water each day and avoid overdoing the caffeine. Keep your intake of caffeinated beverages to one to two cups per day. Avoid all caffeine in the afternoon to keep it from affecting your ability to fall asleep.
- Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. You can't catch up on the weekend, so it's better to maintain a normal sleep schedule at all times.
Maintain Healthy Habits
Even though the season is filled with temptations, try to maintain healthy habits. This doesn't mean you can't partake, but plan for it and do it smartly. Drink water in between cocktails. Choose crunchy crudités to counteract the rich dessert table. Treat yourself to the sweets, but put in an extra 15 minutes on your daily walk.
Speaking of exercise, this isn't the time to slack. If you're having a hard time fitting it all in, think about where you can adjust. Can you shop during your lunch hour to make time for the gym after work or add a few loops around the mall to up your step count while you're out shopping? Although the weather may be frightful, walks outside are great ways to get in exercise and get some fresh air, which may reduce your stress levels.
- Build in stress breaks or meditations. Take a few deep breaths and clear your head — if only for a few minutes.
- Spend time outdoors and get exposure to sunlight. Even 15 minutes per day helps boost your mood and can reduce stress.
Work in Natural Immune Boosters
Sticking with healthy habits like eating a well-balanced diet, drinking enough water throughout the day, and getting in some exercise will help you maintain your immune system. Eat superfoods like red peppers, blueberries, and citrus fruits, which have disease-fighting properties, according to the Mayo Clinic. Start the day with fruit salads for a light but healthful breakfast. Green tea is a healthy, low-calorie choice that also has immunity-boosting affects.
Avoid Germs at All Costs
During this busy season, it can be hard to avoid germs, but doing so is important. Avoid sick people when you can. Isolate sick kids in one room and try to limit everyone's exposure. When shopping, use hand sanitizer often and avoid touching your face. Use your sleeve or a paper towel to open doors.
One of the best ways to avoid illness is to wash your hands properly. Always wash your hands before eating and when you get home from a shopping trip. Use the hottest water you can and lather well with soap. Wash your hands up to your wrists for a minimum of 20 seconds. Rinse with hot water and dry completely.
If You Do Get Sick
Sometimes you can't avoid getting sick. When you do, you can limit the misery by taking care of yourself. Stay home from work and get rest. Drink plenty of fluids by sipping water, broth, and hot tea. Eat well by choosing fruits, soups filled with nourishing veggies, and lean proteins. If you suspect it's the flu, call your doctor. There are medications that can reduce the length and severity of the illness.
The season is filled with fun but is also a high-stress time. Take time to plan your self care to make sure you remain healthy throughout the holidays and the winter months.