Staying Healthy Through the Holidays
The holiday season is upon us, and while the food is shared, the drinks are poured, and the hugs are given, the germs are lurking. Contagious illnesses, like colds and the flu, are easily spread during busy travel and as friends and loved ones gather closely that could, unfortunately, put your enjoyment on hold. Thankfully, with some precautions and good hygienic practices, you can stay healthy and continue the celebration throughout the season.
Since the holidays fall within peak flu season, it goes without saying that a flu shot is a must. The flu virus can be dangerous, even to otherwise healthy individuals, and the yearly vaccine is the best defense. Be sure to check with your physician that you are up-to-date on all other vaccines, as well, to prevent spreading other dangerous illnesses such as pertussis (whooping cough), shingles and pneumococcal disease.
For many, travel is an essential part of the holidays, whether flying on a plane to visit family or simply riding the train across town to shop for gifts. Going out in public with more and more people also means more germs. Whenever you take transportation, bring disinfecting wipes. Anything that may be touched, from armrests to buckles and vents, wipe it down and let it air-dry. If flying, be sure to pay extra attention to the tray tables. According to University of Arizona in Tucson studies, the flu virus and even antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA have been found on airline tray tables, so disinfecting is a must.
Hydration is Essential
While you always want to drink plenty of water, staying hydrated when you fly is even more important for your immune system. The cabins on airplanes tend to have low humidity, and combined with the high altitude, makes the air even dryer. This dry environment can dry out our internal airways, leaving them more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. Drink 8 ounces of water for every hour you’re in the air – this will help keep your mucus membranes functioning well, allowing your body to better fight off incoming germs.
Keep Your Hands Clean
It goes without saying to wash your hands regularly, but during cold season, it’s the gap between bathroom breaks that can leave you prone to illness. Cold viruses spread more easily through hand-to-mouth contact, so anything you touch during your shopping excursion or travel day could be making its way into your body without you even thinking about it. Carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer and be sure to use it regularly after touching anything that others may have used before you, from doors to hand rails, buttons and ATMs.
Take a Break – Get a Massage
Have you been looking for an excuse to get a regular massage? A study out of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles has shown that a single Swedish massage effectively lowered stress hormone levels and boosted white blood cells, which help the immune system fight illness. Even a brief massage can be effective, as long as it is over ten minutes.
It’s easy to get so busy planning and shopping for the holidays that you forget to take a break or even get a good night’s sleep, but wearing yourself out can also weaken your immune system. If this means you have to skip a party because you’re feeling too tired, do it. According to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, those who got at least eight hours of sleep per night were three times less likely to get a cold than those sleeping seven or less.
The holidays should be all about making happy memories together, so don’t miss out due to an illness. Take care of yourself and your family to ensure the most difficult thing you need to get through this season is deciding what gifts to purchase for your loved ones. If any health concerns should arise, or you require a regular checkup or vaccine, visit us today.