With Thanksgiving behind us, it’s time to begin to think about the joy that is the holiday season that we enjoy during the month of December. Unfortunately, each year this month and its seasonal cheer inevitably comes with an increase in the number of cold and flu bugs we can catch, too. Not to mention the increased stress that can come from feeling busy busy busy for four weeks straight. And as many of us likely know from experience, few things ruin the holiday mood quite like being sick or being stressed!

Fortunately, even during the worst of “cold and flu and stress” season, there are still things all of us can do to embrace healthy habits and healthy living efforts. With the right habits, we can all take care of ourselves, reduce our chances of getting sick, and even increase our ability to enjoy the season. So before December starts up next week, we encourage you to try these three tips to help give your health and sanity an end-of-the-year boost:

  • Remember to wash your hands! You’ve heard it before: hand washing is a critical 800px-OCD_handwash.jpgpart of protecting your body from germs and viruses, including cold and flu bugs. There’s a reason you hear this piece of advice so frequently: it really works! The C.D.C. even describes handwashing as a "do-it-yourself" vaccine. So if this is a habit that you don’t stick to as often as you should, this upcoming month is the perfect time to recommit to it.
  • Manage your stress levels. We all have stress. It can’t be helped - stress is a natural response that our bodies are programmed to implement and feel in certain situations. Unfortunately, chronically living with stress can take a toll on your health, and even creates symptoms like headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Rather than letting a busy holiday season bring you down, we recommend exploring stress-relief tricks and picking one or two strategies that bring you some relief. We also recommend giving yourself permission to take a break from the holiday rush - balancing lots of outings with friends with some time spent charging will go a long way in helping you take care of yourself this December.
  • Do your best to eat well and stay active. Thanksgiving was just the beginning of the line of opportunities we have during the upcoming weeks to overeat and enjoy a sedentary night in. As tempting as it can be to overindulge and to enjoy a lazy night or two, it’s extremely important to make sure that we balance these indulgences with an active exercise routine (i.e. exercising at least 2.5 hours a week) and good dieting choices. If you know from experience that you struggle to maintain this balance between a healthy diet and a holiday diet, we recommend deliberately making time in your schedule to shop for healthy groceries; to pack and prepare meals that are limited in fat, salt and sugar; and to hit the gym on a regular basis. By taking the time to make the time for yourself, you’ll be better prepared to make your holiday season as healthy as possible.

These three tips highlight ways that anyone and everyone can work to make their holiday season a little healthier. By also remembering to implement and few more seasonal health and safety tricks - such as protecting yourself against dropping temperatures - you can ensure that your holiday season will be as joyful and healthy as possible.

Image courtesy wikipedia.org