Whether you’re traveling across the country to visit family or friends, heading to a festive party or simply out shopping, the holidays can be busy. This time of year can certainly be enjoyable, but it can also bring an increased risk of sickness thanks to increased travel and all those get-togethers.
Keep yourself—and your family—healthy this holiday season with these simple tips.
3 Tips to Have a Healthy Holiday Season
Tip No. 1: Prepare Before Travel
Travel can put your health at risk. The changes in routine combined with traveling in close, cramped quarters can make your body more susceptible to illness. If you’re traveling by air, make sure you’re armed with disinfecting wipes to clean your tray table, headrest and seat belt buckle.
Another tip for fending off those airplane cabin germs? Stay hydrated. Studies have shown that it’s not the recirculated air aboard planes that’s responsible for illness, it’s the low humidity. Proper hydration will help ensure the mucus membranes lining your nose and throat are healthy, which will help trap germs. You can also use a saline nasal mist, UPMC advises. Another healthy option is to keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer handy if you won’t be near soap and water to clean your hands.
If you’ll be sitting for more than two hours, be sure to get up and walk around to avoid the risk of blood clots forming in your legs. You are at increased risk of clots forming if you’re an older adult, obese or undergoing certain treatments like hormone replacement therapy.
Tip No. 2: Watch Your Stress Level
With all the preparation and traveling that goes into the holidays, it’s easy to feel frazzled. The excess stress combined with changes in routine and sleep schedules can negatively impact your immune system.
Aim to get at least eight hours of sleep per night, and incorporate some stress relieving strategies into your daily routine. Or, if you’re out shopping at the mall, stop for a quick 10-minute chair massage. Massage has been shown—even for 10 minutes—to lower stress hormones and boost white blood cells.
Read More: Having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep? Try these 5 ways to improve sleep quality.
Tip No. 3: Wash Your Hands
While this might seem like a no-brainer, it’s especially important to wash correctly and often during the holidays, notes the CDC. Remember to wash for at least 20 seconds and use water and soap. If you’re unable to get to a sink, alcohol-based hand sanitizer can help.
Remember to wash your hands after you have used the bathroom, before and after preparing food, before eating, after touching an animal and after coughing or sneezing.
Wherever the holiday season takes you, stay healthy by reducing your stress, getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, washing your hands and taking time for yourself.