The holidays can be a minefield of exposure to sick people, too much sugar, overdoing it, and crazy weather changes. Here are 5 tips to stay healthy through the holidays:
1. Cover your neck
The acupuncture points on the back of the neck are particularly susceptible to drafts of wind and cold. This kind of draft can cause colds to start. By simply covering your neck, you can often stay healthy and avoid getting a cold. Wear shirts with collars, and wearing a scarf is an even better idea. I have lots of patients who’ve learned to wear scarves in winter, and get a lot less colds than they used to!
2. Stay healthy around sick people
This time of year, it’s easy to be exposed to plenty of sick people, at work, shopping, parties, and at home, if a family member is sick. Here’s how to deal with it:
– Stay out of coughing range. Germs can travel up to 3 feet, so if someone is coughing near you, back away and stay out of range. If you can’t, for example if you’re in an elevator, at least turn your head away to avoid the germs. And if you have a cough, cover your mouth, or cough into your arm. Nobody wants you to share. Really.
– Wash your hands frequently. I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, and it’s true. It really does help prevent your exposure and spreading the germs around.
– If you live with someone who’s sick, do not drink out of the same glass, take a bite of food from their fork, or kiss on the mouth. Now, I know a lot of people still want to kiss their significant other, even while they’re sick. Their saliva is carrying the germs of their cold or flu. Sharing that saliva is just like drinking a cup of germs. I know that sounds gross, but I can’t tell you how many sick patients I’ve treated over the years because they continued kissing their partner while they were sick. To stay healthy avoid kissing right now, or only kiss them on the cheek, instead of the mouth.
– And really, if they’re sick, it’s a good idea for one of you to sleep in a different room. If you’re asleep in bed at night and they roll over and cough right in your face, well, guess what’s going to happen…
3. Make good food choices
The holidays are notorious for too much sugar, alcohol, carbs and overeating. Think about how much food you put on your plate. If you want to taste a bunch of different dishes, take a small amount of each. Do you really need mashed potatoes, stuffing, bread and three desserts? It’s best to avoid overeating, so pick your favorites, and stick with those.
It’s really easy to just pile food on the plate and eat it while talking with friends and family, without thinking about what you’re doing. Take a few minutes and be mindful of your food choices and quantities. You can choose to have a bit more of the veggies and less of the carbs and desserts and still enjoy your meal.
4. Eat lots of soups & stews
Winter is the time to eat lots of soups, stews and cooked foods, rather than cold, raw foods. It feels really good to eat soups and stews at this time of year, and it’s one of the best things you can do for your health. And if you’ve had too many sweets and foods you don’t normally eat and your gut’s not too happy with you, you can repair it with soups.
Avoid soups with milk or cream in them, as the dairy makes mucus. Go for soups with clear broth, or are pureed, rather than having the dairy. Chicken soup really is good medicine!
5. Get enough rest
This one’s really important. Winter is the time to rest, rejuvenate and “recharge our batteries”, to prepare for the more active times of the coming spring and summer. Winter is the time to do less, rest more, go to bed early and get more sleep. Unfortunately, during the holidays many people do exactly the opposite, and it can affect your health. You don’t necessarily have to go to every party. Pick a couple that you like best, and just go to those.
Getting run down at this time of year can really deplete your energy and make you more susceptible to getting sick. In order to stay healthy, or if you’re recovering from being sick or another health issue, it’s even more important to get rest in winter.
Share this with someone you care about, and leave a comment to let me know your biggest challenge staying healthy through the holidays. Happy holidays and stay healthy!