As we continue through this holiday season, we're not only confronted with the usual amount of seasonal stress, but half the country is also feeling a collective strain in the wake of the presidential election. It's easy to cope by reaching for sweets and alcohol, which are easy and accessible during this time of year. But ultimately, those choices strain the immune system and put us at even greater risk of getting sick. Instead, rest up, wash those hands and try some of the following:
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radical damage caused by environmental stress. Studies also show that vitamin C helps shorten the duration of colds by 10 to 15 percent. And it's not hard to get enough: One 8-ounce glass of 100-percent orange juice provides more than your daily vitamin C needs. Probiotics are live, active bacteria that help promote a healthy immune system by keeping your gut healthy. In addition to supplements, you can also find probiotics in a number of foods, including fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha. However you get it, you should consume a probiotic-packed food at least once a day for optimal health.
The fourth quarter is a busy time regardless of what field you are in. Things get hectic. Throw in some holiday parties and gift shopping, and it's easy to hit your limit. If you're a parent, you'll get lots of requests from the PTA and school leaders to come in and help celebrate in the classroom. If you're a volunteer, additional requests to help out at your place of worship or chosen organization will roll in. Work on saying no and saying yes to yourself and your sanity. Becoming overwhelmed is a surefire way to get sick. Regular, moderate exercise improves your overall health. Moderate exercise could be going to the gym every other day, taking a 30-minute walk daily or cycling a few times a week. But while you might plan to the gym or yoga studio to get healthier, unfortunately, those are perfect places to pick up viruses. It's better to exercise outdoors when possible. Not only will you avoid all of germs, but you'll also soak up some vitamin D, an essential nutrient for immune health.
Last, but certainly not least is hydration. To avoid getting sick, you have to be hydrated. While you may remember to hydrate in the summer when it's hot, during colder months, you may slack a bit. What's more, most homes and offices are overheated, which can make you lose more moisture every time you breathe. And, holiday air travel means sitting for hours in air with very low humidity, which leads to the drying out of sinus passages and susceptibility to catching a respiratory virus. Eating lots of water-rich foods, like soup and salads, and drinking 6 to 8 (8-ounce) glasses of water each day will ensure you're getting enough hydration.