The Holidays are rapidly approaching. But the fun and festivities can be a double-edged sword that can result in Health issues if you're not careful. So, how can you celebrate the holidays, keep it all together and stay healthy in the process? Here are some tips to help you survive the season in tiptop shape.
1. Wash your hands. The shopping season brings many opportunities to be exposed to the latest rounds of colds and flu. Beware of handles on doors, shopping carts, hand shakes and other arenas in which you can contract germs. Limit touching your face until you've had a chance to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.
2. Boost your vitamin D levels. Having adequate vitamin D levels helps to prevent infections. Have your doctor check your levels and consider taking a supplement. 800-1000 IU of Vitamin D3 is a starting dose for most adults, but many require higher doses if their blood levels are low.
3. Don't overload your schedule. The holidays can be stressful, especially if you're trying to be everywhere at once. Too many events and late nights can rob you of important rest and decrease your immune system. Limit yourself to a few special events and don't be shy about saying no to nonessential responsibilities. By the way, no one will remember whether the treats you brought were bought or homemade—give yourself permission to cheat a little.
4. Watch your food and fluids. Too much coffee, too much alcohol and too much sugar are a recipe for fatigue and a depressed immune system. Remember to drink an extra glass of water for each caffeinated or alcoholic beverage and to keep sugar to a minimum. Hint: try sparkling water with a dash of unsweetened cranberry juice and a lime twist for a fun holiday beverage.
5. Don't skip your exercise. Life is busy this time of year, but dropping off on your exercise can work against you. Your body needs the right amount of activity to keep your energy levels up. Shopping may be a great sport, but it only counts if it gets your heart rate up.
6. Beware of perfectionism. Spending time with family and friends is what the holidays are all about, but keep your expectations realistic—no family is perfect. This time of year can bring out the best and worst in our family dynamics and can be a time of reflection and sadness for many people. Giving the individuals in your life understanding and space may be necessary to keep the holiday peace.
7. Don't overextend yourself financially. Few things increase stress faster than debt.
Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for the holiday whirlwind. Remember—don't forget to take some time for yourself and have a happy and healthy holiday season.
Angela LaSalle, MD is board certified in family medicine and practices integrative medicine with Indiana Health Group in Carmel, IN. 317-843-9922. www.angelalasallemd.com