No one wants to feel sick or run down during the holiday season. It can be hard to maintain a healthy diet and manage stress, not to mention we are in the thick of cold and flu season. With a little foresight and preparation, it is possible to make it through the holidays relatively unscathed. Keep reading for a few tips.
Continue to maintain a regular exercise regimen.
It can be tempting this time of year to take a break from the gym while simultaneously promising to jump back on the wagon after the new year. However, exercising does more than combat the dreaded holiday weight gain. It also relieves stress, wards off depression and gives you more energy. It also helps you maintain any fitness goals you’ve accomplished during the year. Taking a few days off here and there are fine; in fact, it’s encouraged to give your body and muscles time to recover. But a recent study conducted by the National Library of Medicine found that anything longer than a week results in a loss of strength and muscle mass.
Everything in moderation
The holidays are a special time of year filled with special traditions you don’t get to enjoy any other time of year. It’s okay to allow yourself a helping of sweet potato casserole at a family gathering, a Christmas cookie here and there or the occasional peppermint mocha. Just don’t make it a daily habit.
Wash your hands
Regular handwashing is one of the easiest ways to prevent illness. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that handwashing prevents 30% of diarrhea-related illnesses and 20% of respiratory infections. Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and clean running water before eating or preparing food, after using the restroom or encountering a known contaminant.
When you become chilled, it slows your body’s immune response, giving germs and bacteria more opportunity to spread infection. Dress in layers that hold in body heat but can be easily removed should the temperature warm up.
Limit alcohol consumption
The holiday season accounts for some of the highest incidents of binge drinking in the United States. The general mood is festive, there is an abundance of food and drink, and constraints tend to be taken less seriously. Even individuals who consider themselves to be occasional drinkers find themselves consuming more alcohol than they normally would. Excessive drinking leads to a host of problems. Physically, it weakens your immune system and increases your risk of getting sick. It can also lead to weight gain and overeating. Mentally, alcohol impairs your judgement and your ability to make sound decisions. Not to mention the dangers of getting behind the wheel of a car.
Many people find holidays more stressful than enjoyable. Be proactive in managing your stress levels by establishing realistic expectations for yourself, setting boundaries, and taking time to step back from the hustle and bustle to mentally recharge.
Practice food safety
Just as no one wants to come down with a holiday illness, no one wants food poisoning either. Ensure your hands and workspaces are clean before preparing food. Follow proper thawing and cooking guidelines. Store leftover food properly within two hours and toss or freeze anything within four days. The CDC provides a complete list of additional food safety tips on their website.