No time is a good time for catching a cold, but if ever there were a season to diligently strive to keep your immune system strong and the sniffles at bay, it’s now, right? With the holidays just around the corner, life is likely everything but simple. There are cards to send, shopping lists to cross off, parties to attend and flights to catch. Unfortunately, all that time out-and-about means you’re exposed to more germs.
In fact, it’s not the cold weather that makes winter prime time for getting sick, but our preference for staying indoors when temperatures dip. More time inside means more potential for interacting with others, and it’s not just the germ-y handshake you’ll need to craftily dodge. You’re also more likely to be breathing in recycled air (think, air that someone else has exhaled), which may contain viruses. Gross! We know adding something else to your mounting to-do list may be the last thing you want to consider, but luckily keeping you and your family healthy is simple with these easy tips.
Catch your Zzz’s
Make hitting the hay priority numero uno. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Children need more depending on their age. You’ll know you’re getting enough if you feel fully rested upon waking – before that mug of coffee. Not getting enough sleep impacts the immune system by lowering the number of killer cells that fight germs. Also, without a full recharge your body doesn’t have the fuel to properly run all systems, often at the expense of the immune system. Be diligent about lights off, even on weekends, holidays and days off. Doing so will reinforce your body’s sleep cycle and promote better sleep.
Dry winter weather, and our tendency to indulge in one or two, ok, a few, more alcoholic drinks this time of year increases the risk of dehydration. Without enough H2O, your body can’t eliminate toxins and waste materials. Additionally, not getting enough water can cause energy dips and negatively impact sleep. The recommended intake is 64 to 80 ounces of water a day for men and women and 40 to 64 ounces for children 5 to 12. Front-load consumption by putting a glass of lemon water on your nightstand table and drinking upon waking. You’ll get the additional power of cold-fighting Vitamin C and potassium from the lemon. Plus, this much-touted elixir has a host of other health benefits including helping your skin glow.
Junk the junk food
We know it’s tempting, especially during the holidays, to give in to cravings. It’s just once a year, right? But indulging can be a slippery slope, especially when you’re surrounded by temptation, stressed and exhausted. Before you know it you’ve polished off the box when you only meant to eat one or two. There’s a reason you might not feel so amazing after being bested by sugary, salty, fatty urges, and it has nothing to do with guilt. Research shows that the health of our immune system is directly related to the nutrients we receive in our diet. While one or two indulgences won’t have dire effects, a week or month of unhealthy eating may keep you under the covers. Prepare for sticky situations by carrying healthy snacks that deliver immunity-boosting protein, Vitamins A, C, E and Zinc. Here’s our favorite party treat.
Carry a pen
Invest in your own supply of ballpoints and you may just save yourself from getting a cold. Just think of the number of places you may use a communal pen throughout the day – at the bank, doctor’s office, yoga check in, restaurants, retail stores – and the number of other hands that were likely there before you. It’s a wonder we’re not sick more often. Germs are most easily spread from hand-to-hand (or, object-to-hand) contact. Avoid touching items that are not sanitized often. Think, menus, grocery carts, condiment dispensers and bathroom handles. Also, wash your hands at least 7 times a day. It’s not as difficult as you may think.
Have a good laugh
Go ahead, click that Funny or Die link that your best friend just sent you. Fire up Tina Fey on the DVR. When we laugh, research shows we decrease stress hormones and increase the number of killer cells that fight germs. As you may imagine that means added stress has the opposite effect. Getting serious about lightening up may be the best thing you can do to light up your immune system.