The holidays are a time of merriment when families gather to observe traditions, food is consumed in a gluttonous fashion, and gifts are given with equal fervor. It is also a time of great stress for people across the globe, fraught as it is with social pressures, consumer imperatives, familial obligations, mandatory religious observances, and ultimately, a lot of self-induced anxiety. So it’s no wonder that so many people find themselves laid up over the holiday season with colds, flus, and a variety of other ailments due to their beleaguered immune systems. However, there are ways to combat the stresses of the season, boost your immunity, and plan for a fun holiday season free of illness if you follow a few simple guidelines.
- Plan ahead. The reason that most people get sick during the holidays is due to a decided lack of planning. You know you’re one of those people who hits Thanksgiving, realizes that you haven’t even started thinking about Christmas shopping (despite your firm resolve the previous year to plan ahead this time), and uses Black Friday to kick off a shopping whirlwind that won’t stop until Christmas Eve and leaves you useless for the next two weeks. So start making your lists now, shop sales, and have the bulk of your shopping done by turkey day. Then relax and bake cookies for the month of December.
- Take your vitamins. In the rush of shopping, decorating, and making arrangements for visiting family, it’s easy to forget the essentials. But if your diet and exercise routine are already suffering, at least remember to keep your body as healthy as possible by taking a daily multivitamin to keep you functioning at your peak and help you fight off seasonal colds.
- Rest up. Sleep may be the last thing on your mind when your holiday to-do list is a mile long, but losing sleep will catch up with you eventually, and probably when you can least afford it. So make sure your schedule includes plenty of time for catching zzzs if you don’t want to miss the festivities because of a virus.
- Say no. You will no doubt be faced with a plethora of invitations to attend parties, hit the mall, do some ice-skating, or make hot toddies. Skip all but the last one. The last thing you need when your plate is already full is a revolving door of events that will only cause you more stress. This season is supposed to be fun, so if you’re too busy to attend a few functions, simply let the hosts know that you have other obligations. They’re sure to understand.
- Keep it simple. Although you may have been keen a few years ago to serve a five-course meal for your entire family, the undertaking has probably lost its luster (especially since you always seem to get stuck cleaning up, too). If no one else is willing to take on the family gathering, consider cooking a small meal for immediate family or introducing your relatives to the concept of a potluck. If you opt for paper plates, you won’t even have to do the dishes!