This time of the year can be a lot of fun, but it’s also the worst time of the year for your health. Here are just a few ways the silly season wreaks havoc on your immune system, and what to do to fix it.
Don’t skimp on sleep or snooze time
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again. When you don’t get enough sleep, you limit your body’s ability to produce the protective cells that fight infection and sickness. So, ensure that you get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. And if you can’t get that amount of sleep at night, then try to catch the odd catnap – your immune system will thank you for it.
Eat quality food
Heading into the holiday season, you’ll be faced with the prospect of indulging in party foods and drinks. These foods are hard to resist and are high in sugar and sodium, which will lower your white blood cell count. Too much alcohol will also wreak havoc on your liver, making it more difficult to detoxify your blood. Fatty foods lower your antibody production which makes it harder for your body to react to infected areas.
So, on the day of a party, eat a balanced meal high in protein, nutrients and vitamins to help offset the unhealthy fare ahead.
Work out right
Many of you may hit the party food hard, or have a big night on the booze and then try to right the ship with an intense workout. Regular workouts will boost your metabolism, strengthen your immunity and release positive endorphins to help your immune system operate optimally to help manage holiday stress.
But be wary of overtraining to compensate for excess food and alcohol. You’ll exhaust your body and weaken your immune system.
Beware the gym germs
Going to the gym is a great way to get in your daily 30 minutes of exercise, but gyms are also a hotspot of disease and infection. Just think about all that sweat and, ahem, snot, pouring out on weights, exercise machines, treadmills, dumbbells, and then go to the communal cesspool otherwise known as the water fountain, and you can see a recipe for illness. And that’s before you go to the bathrooms to ‘clean’ yourself up.
So, make sure you take antiseptic wipes and a clean, dry towel and wipe down all machines before you touch them, or at least wipe your hands after you’ve used them. And bring in your own water; don’t use that water cooler!
Get your vitamin D fix
A lack of vitamin D can turn into Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and depression symptoms, as well as a host of other illnesses. Make sure you get your fix of sunlight, take a daily walk in the sun, stand by a sunny window, supplement with D3 (Cholecalciferol) and eat oranges, egg yolks, fatty fish and low fat cheese.
Steer clear of smokers
Smoking is bad for you – just having one will do damage to your body. But second-hand smoke also causes upper respiratory infections and will tax your immune system. So, steer clear of smokers as much as possible and resist the temptation to have that ‘one social ciggy’.
Keep on smiling
The holidays can lead to a demanding social schedule and test your patience; time spent with family can often raise anxiety levels; there’s frustration with traffic – these situations can increase stress hormones and impede the body’s ability to repair itself, weakening your immune system in the process.
The end of the year can also make you reflect negatively, if you’re feeling fed-up with the season’s many demands. It’s also a financially stressful time, and buying the obligatory family presents and booze bottles for those continuous social engagements can mean that many run out of money.
Then there are those whose families are far away, the neighbours are on holidays, and whose sporting and social clubs are closed for Christmas.
Either way, try to find time for close friends, people you love, or spending it in places you like, such as your favourite café or local library. If you’re over-engaged, then make sure you get some ‘you’ time. If you’re feeling lonely, find a volunteer group and get into the spirit of giving – it will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
So, most importantly, find a reason to smile.
Smiling increases endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller, and will make the season easier to manage. Also, remember to breathe. Sounds silly but a few deep breaths and consciously relaxing for a minute will reduce anxiety, calm your nerves and banish blue feelings.
Do you have any tips for staying healthy during the silly season?