The holiday season is one of the most common times to pick up a cold, flu, sore throat, headache etc., or to just feel a little under the weather. If you already live with a chronic health condition, it’s a time when your symptoms may be exacerbated, but even the healthiest of people are vulnerable during this season.
Although the holiday is a time of love, joy and happiness, it is also packed with stress, overindulgence in foods that aren’t healthy for us and a lack of proper rest. Healthy habits like eating well, sleep and exercise may get pushed to the side. All this together is a recipe for deterioration in health.
Fortunately there are a couple simple strategies you can take to minimize your risk and encourage a healthier holiday. Like all health related matters it usually boils down to diet and lifestyle and the two most important steps you can take are to avoid the sugar and reduce the stress.
Chronic stress lowers your white blood cell count and weakens your immune system, which instantly makes you more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. Stress also impairs your ability to rest peacefully, which is also important for immune function and regeneration.
It puts excessive demand on the endocrine system which also impairs the immune system and can lead to chronic pain, fatigue, inflammation, blood pressure problems and many more. Stress is also disruptive and harmful to the nervous system, which leaves you edgy, irritable and can lead to a variety of health conditions, both psychologically and physiological.
Take time to rest and relax. Be sure to get your eight or nine hours of sleep each night.
Make time for your exercise. Exercise boosts your immune system and reduces stress simultaneously.
Don’t be afraid to say no. You don’t need to attend every celebration in town or eat everything offered to you.
Here’s 25 more great ways to reduce the stress that I posted last year, which you may want to put into action as well:
Among other things, sugar weakens the immune system by depleting our white blood cells that eat up harmful invaders. This leaves the body vulnerable to infection and disease.
It disrupts neurotransmitters in the brain and the endocrine system, which leads to depression, anxiety, cravings for carbs and sugar, hyperactivity, chronic fatigue and an impaired ability to deal with stress, which puts more stress on the system.
Yes, I know that for many, eating as many sweets as possible tends to be a holiday tradition. This is one tradition that can stand to be changed. Make a new tradition of trying to make healthier decisions and eating foods that are better for you.
Learn to appreciate the natural sweetness that is inherent in many foods. Replace the alcohol with a glass of sparkling apple juice or lemon flavored spritzer and the cookies and candy with dates, nuts, fruit or carob covered raisins.
Apple pie can be just as tasty and delicious in its natural state with no added sugar. Fudge can be made with carob and nut butter instead of chocolate and sugar.
There are many ways to enjoy delicious food without completely destroying your health. If you need a little help overcoming your cravings for sugar, you may find the help you need in my ebook, How to Break Your Sugar Addiction Today.
Here’s some more sugar-free ideas I posted last year you may find helpful:
Other steps you can take to protect your health through the holiday include washing your hands frequently, taking your vitamins – especially your B vitamins which are great stress busters and your antioxidants to boost your immune system and eat more protein. Protein helps your body produce antibodies that will protect you against foreign invaders.
As an early holiday gift from me to you, you can download this free mini-guide for more great ideas like these.
Most importantly to remember is that the spirit of the holiday is really about loving, giving and gratitude; not how much you do, how much money you spend or how much food you eat. Make your holiday a time of rest, relaxation and reflection and enjoy the simple things in life like spending quality time with loved ones.