If you’re anything like me and my family, you’ve spent quite a few holiday seasons sniffling your way around the tree (or the menorah, or yule log, or whatever it may be in your family or culture). Â It just plain sucks that cold and flu season coincides with “the most wonderful time of the year,” but we’ve come up with a few tips that will help you prevent a coldâ€“and stay germ-freeâ€“over the next few weeks. Â Here’s how to stay healthy over the holidays.
Pop Some Probiotics
Since much of our immune system resides in our guts, Stella Metsovas, a clinicial nutritionist, recommends taking probiotics to keep from getting sick. She says:
Keep your digestive health in check by consuming at least one serving of probiotic-rich foods daily.Â I recommend using a multi-probiotic that contains at least five strains.
Probiotics have been shown to boost immune response to flu strains. You can also eat and drink fermented foods like kefir, kombucha and yogurt to get a daily dose of good bacteria.
Don’t cut our your exercise routine just because of the holidays. Regular exercise is another thing that can boost your immune system, although science hasn’t seemed to figure out exactly why yet.Â Sadie Nardini,Â the yogi and wellness expert, suggests trying Fierce Lion Pose as a way to let go of stress and stay active (this pose has long been connected to immunity and is particularly good to do when you’ve got a sore throat) :
Fierce Lion Pose: Stress can lead to illness, so as you move through theÂ holidays, whether you need to release anxiety in the form of tight musclesÂ or a growing reaction to your jealous cousin’s cattiness at the familyÂ gathering, this is my go-to pose for letting go of it all:
- Stand with feet at hip-distance.
- Bend your knees and reach your arms into the air.
- Inhale here.
- Exhale through your mouth, stick out your tongue and roar like a lion.Â Silly maybe, but it works.
- As you roar, sweep your fists into hips, bend over at the waist, thenÂ ’throw’ your hands out behind you with open fingers. Think of tossing awayÂ anything keeping you from being in your holiday health and bliss.
- Inhale, float back up to position 1, now lighter.
Repeat Fierce Lion 10 times, or until you start laughing and remember toÂ focus on all the goodness and love that surrounds you this season–and
Get Enough Sleep
We know you know this. But it bears repeating! Studies continue to show the link between lack of immunity and lack of sleepÂ (not sleepigÂ as bad as stress in terms of making you sick, and is also linked to diabetes and obesity), so seriously, make sure you get yourself to bed and stay there. For at least 7 hours. If you need help, check out our tips for how to fall (and stay) asleep.
Wash Your Hands
Another no-brainer. But it’s easy to forget to wash your hands in the maze of dirty gloves and heavy coats and Salvation army bellringers that is the germy world at this time of year. Bonus points if you don’t touch your face!
Try Some Herbs
You probably already know that vitamin C and echinachea can help you fight off infections, but have you ever tried elderberry? Dr. Holly Lucille (host of the upcoming Veria Living series,Â Myth Defying with Dr. HollyÂ and a naturopathic doctor) says:
There has been a plethora of research on Sambucus– (Black Elderberry) mainly on its anti-viral and anti inflammatoryÂ activity – (perfect for colds and flu). I actually love this ingredient for prevention and to decrease duration and severity!
I’ve been taking an elderberry tonic in my Emergen-C and I think it has made a difference in staving off colds this season. Garlic, ginger and turmeric can also help boost immunity. Honey with lemon juice, in raw or processed form, can soothe symptoms if you’re already feeling sick, and I’ve heard also some people make garlic honeyÂ (yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like!)Â to take as a home remedy.
Type A personalities can attest to the helpfulness of planning ahead, but it’s especially good to do at this time of year. Trying to get gifts purchased and wrapped, food cooked, decorations up, cards addressed and more can add up in terms of time and stress. Blocking some time into your calendar for additional holiday tasks can make you a bit less OMG-how-will-I-do-it all. You can even schedule sleep, or sex, or shopping…
Show Your Gratitude
This one is more for your mental health (and might be dismissed as too touchy-feely by some of you…ok I admit it I thought so at first, too!) but keeping a gratitude journal during this time can be the perfect way to relax, center and take time out. Stephanie Merchant, a health coachÂ says:
We all have heard thatÂ what we focus on grows.Â So, the holidays are the perfect time to focus on gratitude -andÂ creating a gratitude journal is the perfect way to start.Â When weÂ write downÂ what we are grateful for, we start toÂ pay more attention to what weÂ mayÂ otherwise take for granted. So, grab a simple spiral or buy yourself a nice journal,Â and boost your happiness level by savoring the gifts you already have in your life,Â andÂ embrace thatÂ warm feeling of gratitude.
The power of positive thinking! We could all use it at this time of year.