Easy tips to staying healthy through the holidays
by Dr. Susan Jones, N.D.
This article was originally published in December 2002
(December 2002) — The winter months are full of holiday plans, family gatherings, travel obligations, festivities, and life on the go. With the weather turning colder, attending holiday parties and increased amounts of stress can result in frequent colds and flus. Improving the function of your immune system and taking the time to care for yourself will help prevent illness. With these simple steps, you can stay healthy and enjoy the holiday season.
Sleep: Sleep is essential to staying healthy during the holidays. The goal is eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Power naps during the day work quite well for that needed extra boost. This will keep you fresh and energized for those special events and daily tasks.
Water: Eight glasses a day keeps the doctor away! Staying hydrated will help the body to perform at an optimal level and ward off fatigue. Add an extra glass of water for every half hour of exercise, glass of alcohol, and caffeine intake.
Eat wisely: Supply your body with vitamins and nutrients the natural way. Fill up on nutritious-tasting foods such as organic vegetables, hearty soups and stews, lean meats and whole grains. Avoid fried and fat-laden foods that can leave you feeling lethargic and heavy.
Breathe:Three minutes of deep breathing will calm the nervous system, open up the lungs to breathe easier and will decrease anxiety. Sit in a quiet area, inhale and exhale deeply through the nose while filling the lungs fully. Breathe your problems away!
Exercise: Schedule time for your exercise routine. Combine aerobic exercise with weight bearing and stretching. Exercise is a great stress reliever and supports the immune system.
Sugar: Sugar decreases the overall functioning of the immune system. That second helping of apple pie or grandma’s cookies could leave you with the sniffles. Enjoy sweets and desserts in moderation.
Alcohol: Celebrate with a glass of bubbly or wine, just don’t drink the whole bottle. Excessive alcohol runs down the immune system and leaves you more susceptible to catch the cold that’s going around.
Don’t overcommit: With the holidays comes many parties and social events. Don’t feel the need to go to all of them. This can lead to fatigue and stress, not to mention overindulgence in sweets and alcoholic beverages. Create a balance in your life by choosing the events your really want to attend.
Pamper yourself: Take time out of the busy season to spoil yourself; you are worth it. Book a massage, pamper yourself with a pedicure, or steal a quiet moment in a hot bubble bath. Allow the time to de-stress and take care of yourself.
Bodywork: Stimulate and support your immune system with bodywork such as acupuncture, massage, contrast hydrotherapy (application of hot and cold towels), saunas and steam baths. What a great way to pamper yourself and support your health at the same time.
Vitamin supplements: Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, and no one has a perfect diet, so it becomes necessary to supplement with vitamins. Taking a quality multivitamin and extra vitamin C in times of stress will help to ward off illness. Stock up on immune-building teas and take a few minutes out of your day to enjoy a cup with a favorite book.
The holidays are a time to share with family and friends and not the box of tissues and cold remedies. Being proactive about your health and incorporating the above recommendations will build a healthy immune system and prevent you from getting sick throughout the holidays. Enjoy the festivities with friends and family while being relaxed and healthy during the New Year. Cheers to your health.
Dr. Susan Jones is a Naturopathic Physician who graduated from Bastyr University. She currently practices at Glow Natural Health Center in Madison Park. Dr. Jones specializes in family medicine and women’s healthcare and utilizes nutrition, herbal medicine and craniosacral therapy for treatment tools. Please call 206-568-7545 to schedule your appointment.