6 Tips For Keeping Your Immunity Healthy This Christmas
For many, the end of the year means a whirlwind of holiday parties, rich and decadent foods, and the hustle and bustle of checking everything off the to-do list. When the festive season rolls around it’s easy to forget about the healthy routines you have in place throughout the rest of the year. However, while it’s great to make time for family fun and holiday indulgence, it’s not so great to skimp out on taking care of your immune health.
Unfortunately, you’re doing your body a huge disservice when that happens. Cold and flu seasons occur during Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere, and just because you’re about to wind up work for the year doesn’t mean that viruses are doing the same! The good news is that you can still enjoy the holidays while taking care of your immune health. Read on to learn some of our top tips for keeping your immunity healthy this Christmas.
How can I improve my immune level?
Immunity can be fickle. Many moving pieces need to be in just the right place for your body to fight off pathogens and other harmful substances at any point in the year. During the holidays, however, your immune health may take an even bigger hit. Many people replace healthy eating with comfort food and drinks, physical activity with cozy blankets and Christmas movies, and restfulness with shopping and parties. It’s not always easy to improve your immune health during the holidays. But it’s possible, especially if you pay close attention to all the aspects of your health and lifestyle during the festivities.
How can we stay healthy on Christmas?
It can be tricky to stay healthy and ready to fight off pathogens while also enjoying the simple pleasures in life that come around during the holiday season. But the key is to learn how you can manage both simultaneously. If you want to keep your immune health in fighting shape over the holidays, here’s what you need to do…
1. Don’t forget the water
The holiday season is full of festive beverages just waiting to be enjoyed. From eggnog to hot cocoa, there’s nothing quite like a warm, sweet drink on a cold day. Alcohol is also more prevalent during the holidays as people celebrate the event with a drink or two. But while enjoying your favorite beverages in moderation is fine, you must also ensure you get enough water.
Hydration is vital for overall health, and your immune system needs water to function as it should. Be sure to keep a water bottle close and hydrate between other beverages, or opt for water-based drinks such as festive teas. That way, you’ll still get to enjoy what you love while keeping your body hydrated.
2. Focus on diet
What you consume dramatically affects how your body functions, especially your immune system. Your immune cells and organs need specific nutrients to perform their jobs. If you become deficient in any vital nutrient, things begin to break down, and your immune system won’t be doing its best work.
The main issue here is that Christmas is a very popular time to indulge in less-than-healthy foods. The heavy comfort foods and sweet treats that circle the table during a festive dinner aren’t always the best for your immunity. However, that doesn’t mean you should throw out your nutrition altogether.
There is a healthy balance you can maintain during the holidays that will ensure you get all the nutrients you need and still get to indulge in your favorite foods. For example, add your favorite vegetables as side dishes if you're making holiday dinner, or bring some sides with you when visiting friends or family.
Staple holiday foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, green beans, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli are all packed with immune-boosting nutrients. Make sure you load your plate with half vegetables and half everything else. That way, you won’t go overboard on portions of foods that aren’t helping your immunity, and you’ll still get all the vitamins you need to keep your body safe from harmful pathogens.
3. Practice good hygiene
During the holidays, people tend to get together with others more often. Whether you have work parties to attend or are travelling to see your friends and family, being in close quarters with others can increase your chances of getting sick (particularly as we’re still in the grip of the pandemic). However, you can still see your loved ones and protect yourself. Wash your hands regularly, avoid contact with others who are sick, avoid touching your face, and wear a mask if you wish, and you’ll be good to celebrate with the ones you love most.
4. Don’t skip sleep
It can be tempting to push your sleep schedule back a few hours to catch a Christmas flick with friends or stay at your family’s get-together a little longer. The issue is that your immune system suffers when you don’t get adequate sleep. The holidays are a busy time, and in modern society, rest often takes a back seat when there are things to do. The critical thing to remember is that no matter how busy you are, it’s important to make time for those essential hours of shut-eye. Keep to your sleep schedule as much as possible during the holidays, and your immune system will thank you.
5. Make time for holiday exercise
Most people avoid the gym during the holidays – there’s often too much else to do and too many people to see. However, exercise is a vital component of overall health, including immunity. Just because you’re not in the gym lifting weights doesn’t mean you have to skip out on exercise over the holidays altogether.
Instead of ordering online, get your steps in at the mall to pick up your Christmas gifts. Have a festive dance party in your living room, or bundle up and get outside for some fun in the snow. Any movement where your heart rate is slightly increased will count as exercise, and during the holidays, it’s important to keep moving – even if comfy PJs and a cozy fireplace are calling your name.
6. Manage your stress
Last but certainly not least: managing stress during the holidays is key. Many people feel the effects of stress tenfold over the holiday season, and it can really do a number on your immune health. It can be hard to escape from financial stress and the busyness of the season. Try practicing daily meditations, reaching out to a trusted friend for a good vent, or taking an hour or two for yourself to unwind. Whatever you do to manage your stress levels throughout the year, keep it up (or even expand it) over the holidays. It’s vital to make time for this, even if you think you don’t have it – your immune system needs it.
It's not always easy to practice healthy habits during the holidays, but if you do, your body will thank you!
Featured image by Elina Fairytale on Pexels