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Keep Holiday Sickness – And Stress – Away

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Holiday cheer is all fun and games…until your entire household catches that nasty bug that seems to go around every year. Runny nose, hacking cough, fever, chills…all those symptoms have no place in your packed holiday schedule.

Why does sickness tend to pop up a bit more frequently during these winter holiday months? Well, despite all of the fun events surrounding the holidays, many people also experience different levels of stress — time, financial, social pressures, and exposure to more people in general. (Read: more exposure to germs than normal.)

So how can you spread holiday cheer without catching holiday germs? Allow us to shed some light on the topic, to maximize your holiday merriment while minimizing the mean flu grinch.

 

How Does Stress Affect My Immune System?

The holidays bring a different level of stress for many people. While increased social time is fun and has its place, many people experience stress or anxiety in scheduling or even attending these events. Add in the financial stress that comes with gift-giving, increased travel, and potentially reduced pay from time-off of work, and the situation is ripe to be heightened on the stress meter, despite all the fun of the season.

The truth is that change = stress for our bodies…even positive change!

While some low-stress can be motivating, it’s easy for it to run away with the show. In fact, our bodies have an actual physical response to emotional and psychological stress. You may have heard of the “fight or flight” response that kicks in during times of danger. While our ancestors initially used this system to fight off more physical dire circumstances, like encounters with wild animals, your system still kicks into gear all the same with emotional stress. Essentially, whether you’re running away from an actual bear or stressing over calming your toddler amidst a massive melt-down during a family get-together, your fight-or-flight system kicks into high gear.

Your fight-or-flight system releases a set of hormones, increases your heart rate, and also increases your blood pressure. And, while it can be helpful for short stints, we often need help “turning it off” in today’s modern world. When we let it continue to run in the background, this system – originally designed for our protection – actually ends up overloading and compromising our immune system. And, when our immune system becomes compromised, the likelihood of getting sick drastically increases.

 

“Holiday-Induced” Sickness

When everything is merry and bright, indulgence seems to become a trend. Many edible holiday treats are a pretty significant change for your digestive system. For example, your Aunt Susan’s baklava recipe may be a staple every year, but chances are, that influx of sugar is a bit different than your normal post-dinner treat. The same goes for roasts or prime rib dinners; while these are no doubt a treat for many, the heavier hit of fat and sodium can throw your digestive system for a loop.

Between heavier food options, an abundance of sweets, and alcohol flowing a little more freely— your immune system may not be thrilled. In fact, these factors can increase your chances of getting sick, as a result of your immune system having to adjust quickly and differently from your normal routine. Studies have also found that alcohol consumption before bed actually lowers your quality of sleep – another imperative piece of your immune function.

 

How Can I Fend Off Sickness During The Holidays?

Take it from us – it’s a good idea to double down on sickness prevention during the winter months of the holiday season. Not to be a grinch, but if you live in a cold climate, between your increased contact with more people through parties and get-togethers and an uptick in heavy food and alcohol consumption, it can become all too easy to get sick. Don’t let an untimely cold sideline you from your celebrations!

The following are great starting points to proactively stay on top of your health in the upcoming months:

Wash Hands Frequently

Share laughter, each other’s company, and presents, but do your best to keep sickness out of the holiday exchange this season. Cut down on spreading germs by washing your hands a bit more frequently, and certainly before handling any shared food.

Prioritize Sleep

Believe it or not, sleep is one of the number one ways that you can support your immune system…and keep your sanity intact, too! That’s a win-win if we ever heard one. Essentially, your body needs ample sleep to recover and function in general. If you know that you have a later evening out coming up, try to keep the next morning lighter to allow yourself some extra sleep time. Also, don’t knock the occasional power-nap! It can be a real life-saver in a pinch when you’re feeling particularly flagged.

Take Some “Me” Time

While extended family time can be really amazing for so many reasons, it can also prove to be a bit taxing for some. Don’t be afraid to set some boundaries and carve out time to decompress with yourself – whether that is a quiet time to read a book, going for a walk, or just taking a nap. You’ll thank yourself later.

Make A Budget – And Stick To It

We get it— holiday gifts, travel to see family— the bank account is hit hard this time of year, often resulting in anxiety and worry. None of which are good for your mental state— or your immune system! This season, try creating a budget to manage your spending. This might include setting spending limits within gift-giving among family members, opting for homemade gifts, or traveling during off-peak times. This helps everyone relax a bit and have a clear-cut idea of what the expectations are around any given holiday. Plus, sometimes putting a cap on spending can lead to more creative gift ideas!

 

The Immunity Benefits of Chiropractic Care 

Another great way to support your immune system is by receiving consistent chiropractic care. Chiropractic care, in general, is a great way to stay on top of overall health and wellness and can be especially crucial in times of increased physical and emotional stress, i.e. the holidays. Gentle chiropractic adjustments of the spine, neck, and extremities help to realign your body, provide relief to your muscles and joints, and support a healthy immune system.

These adjustments also serve to decrease inflammation, relieve pressure, reduce nerve irritability, and ultimately allow your entire body and immune system to communicate and function better. Think of consistent chiropractic care as bringing in reinforcements to support your overall health through a crucial season, because no one likes to get sick, especially during the holidays.

 

Stay a step ahead of holiday stress, and fend off sickness. Schedule your appointment online or call (334) 539-0808.

 

 

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.

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