The holidays are all about spending precious time with friends and family; exuding kindness, love, and compassion; and the generosity of giving, but there is one grievous “gift” that is better kept to yourself than shared with others—Germs.
In the snap of a finger, before you can even say “Jack Frost," a single strike from a sneaky sickness can swiftly downgrade your holly jolly Christmas into a sneezy, wheezy Christmas spent congested and couped up under the covers.
Read on to learn how you can enjoy the most wonderful time of the year to the fullest and protect your health from taking a hard hit as the holiday season quickly approaches.
Why Do I Keep Getting Sick Around the Holidays?
If you are one of the many unfortunate souls who finds yourself stuck in bed on Christmas morning year after year, rather than rushing down the stairs, you are probably wondering, “Why do I always get sick around the holidays?”
Well, there are a few different reasons why this time of year is the ultimate hub for both holiday spirit and a host of health issues.
The Stress of the Season
The happiest time of the year is often also the busiest and most stressful time of the year, taking a toll on both mental and physical well-being, and potentially compromising the immune system.
Scientifically, this is because elevated stress levels release cortisol, a hormone that, when chronically elevated, may suppress immune function, making individuals more susceptible to illnesses during this festive but demanding time.
Blue Christmases are not only harmful to your mental health.
Experiencing sadness during the holidays can have physiological repercussions on health.
Persistent emotional distress may weaken the immune system, making individuals more vulnerable to illnesses as stress hormones can impact the body's ability to defend against infections.
If you are suffering holiday grief this year, click here for helpful suggestions for lifting your spirits during this difficult time.
Shopping Till You Drop
Engaging in exhaustive holiday shopping marathons can contribute to physical fatigue and heightened stress levels, potentially compromising the immune system.
The combination of prolonged standing, crowded spaces, exposure to sickness and germs, and the pressure to find the perfect gifts may leave individuals more susceptible to illnesses as their bodies struggle to cope with the strain.
Insufficient sleep often endured during the holidays can weaken the immune system, reducing the body's ability to fend off common illnesses.
The combination of late-night festivities and increased demands can disrupt sleep patterns, compromising the restorative benefits of adequate rest and leaving individuals more susceptible to seasonal sickness.
Holiday gatherings, while filled with joy and warmth, can also facilitate the spread of infections as people come together in close proximity.
The increased likelihood of person-to-person contact during festive events creates an environment conducive to the transmission of viruses, emphasising the importance of taking precautions to mitigate the risk of sickness.
Most of us are already not drinking enough water.
However, dehydration during the holidays, often exacerbated by indulgent foods and increased alcohol consumption, can further compromise the body's natural defenses and make individuals more susceptible to illness.
Insufficient water intake can hinder the proper functioning of the immune system, underscoring the importance of staying hydrated to maintain optimal health during the festive season.
Indulging in More Sweet Treats
While delicious, indulging in sweet treats during the holidays can contribute to sickness as excessive sugar intake has been linked to a weakened immune system.
Consuming large amounts of sugary delights may suppress immune function, making it essential to strike a balance between festive indulgence and maintaining a diet that supports overall health.
How to Not Get Sick—Some Tips for Sleighing Seasonal Sicknesses
1. Washing in a Winter Wonderland—Remember to Wash and Scrub Your Hands Regularly!
If the number one wish on your Christmas list this year is to wash your wellness worries away, then sled on over to the sink.
With germs running rampant around this time of year, rocking their way around the Christmas tree and “wreathing” havoc on our health, washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water is one of the most effective ways to kill harmful bacteria and stop the spread of the seasonal sicknesses we don't wish to share with our loved ones.
However, keep in mind that in order to reap the benefits of handwashing, it must be done correctly.
It is recommended that you wash your hands with soap and water for about 20 seconds, remembering to clean areas that are often missed such as between the fingers, under the nails, and the palms of your hands.
So, if you’re sick of being sick this holiday season, pick up a bar of soap and start scrubbing.
2. Sleep in Heavenly Peace—Slow Down During the Season and Settle in for a Long Winter’s Nap
We get it. The holidays can be a hectic and stressful time of year, as you hustle and bustle all over town and shop until you drop.
However, do not lose sleep over it—Literally.
Sleeping is the body’s time to rest, recharge, and repair, so naturally, it is an integral piece of the festive formula for a high-functioning immune system this season.
Failing to get the proper amount of sleep every night not only negatively affects your cognitive functioning but also lowers your immunity, making you significantly more susceptible to catching viral diseases.
However, a good night’s sleep supports the cells and proteins of the immune system that detect and destroy harmful, foreign invaders of the body such as bacteria and viruses.
Not only does sleeping support the protectors of our immune system, but it also promotes a better memory of these foreign invaders so that your immune system is able to fight them off faster in the future.
With most healthy adults needing between seven and nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best, it’s time to stop catching colds and start catching some z's.
3. I’m Dreaming of a Wet Christmas—Stay Hydrated and Drink Plenty of Water
During the festive whirlwind of holiday gatherings and merriment, it's easy to overlook a simple yet vital ingredient for health and holiday cheer—water.
Amidst the joyous celebrations and seasonal sips of cinnamon eggnog and Christmas cocktails, ample water intake tends to take a backseat, leaving our immune systems vulnerable and unarmed.
Furthermore, the stress of the season, coupled with the hectic schedule of holiday preparations, can dehydrate the body and weaken its defenses against potential illnesses.
However, hydration not only helps flush out toxins from your body but also ensures that your mucous membranes stay moist, acting as a natural defense against potential viruses and bacteria.
By ensuring you drink plenty of water, you're not just quenching your thirst; you're giving your immune system the gift of resilience.
So, while you're indulging in the joyous festivities, don't forget to raise a glass of water alongside your holiday cheers, remembering that a well-hydrated body is better equipped to sleigh those pesky germs and keep you feeling festively holly and jolly all season long and into the new year.
4. I’ll Have a Flu Christmas Without You—Stay Two Steps Ahead of the Sickness Going Around by Getting Your Flu Vaccine
This holiday season, don't let the flu play the role of the Grinch in your festivities.
Instead of sniffling and sneezing through, "I'll Have a Flu Christmas Without You," take charge of your well-being by getting your flu vaccine.
By staying two steps ahead of the flu, you can ensure that your celebrations are filled with joy and laughter, rather than moans and groans, allowing the only contagious thing in your home this season to be the warmth of holiday cheer.
5. Jingle Well— Boost Your 'Elf' Defense System for a Healthy Holiday Season!
Our immune systems are the protectors and defenders of our bodies, fiercely fighting off foreigners and stifling sneaky sicknesses.
Now more than ever, it is essential that we support the health of our immune systems that work so diligently to support us by providing it with protective and preventable armor to wield off the enemy.
However, not to worry. There are several small, yet effective merry measures that you can take to boost your immune system and ensure a season filled with joy—Not germs.
For example, one extremely effective way to elevate your immunity is by maintaining a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You should also stay hydrated with plenty of water, prioritising sufficient sleep to recharge your body's natural defenses.
Another way to strengthen your immune system is to incorporate moderate exercise into your routine to keep both your body and spirits lifted. Consider implementing stress-relief techniques like deep breathing or mindfulness to combat the seasonal pressures.
Finally, don't forget the power of a merry mindset—Believe it or not, laughter, joy, and positive connections can work wonders in bolstering your immune resilience.
This holiday season, make self-care a priority and give your immune system the support it needs for a healthy and happy celebration.
For more in-depth information and other helpful tips on how to boost your immune system for the most wonderful time of the year, click here.
Here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season!