After the transition to the winter season, the cold deals out liberal flu-like symptoms and the Christmas holidays can come with other health threats. If you tend to get sick during this downtime over the holidays, you might be feeling what’s called leisure sickness.
Coined by Ad Vingerhoets, a Dutch professor of Health Psychology, the term “leisure sickness” refers to a biological reaction to a high stress time coming to an end, followed by period of relaxation. When your stress-level lightens up, your adrenaline stops pumping, cortisol release slows down, and your immune system gets vulnerable. On top of that, maybe you (like so many full-time employees), spend most of the work-year ignoring the signals of sickness because you don’t have “time” to be sick. The holidays is often when this has the best opportunity to catch up with you. So whether your celebrating or not, be sure to keep your health in check this holiday season. Here are a few ways to support your immune system over the holidays.
Don’t over commit
We all have a tendency to overcommit to things around this time just because ” ’tis the season.” It comes with great expectations – parties, shopping dates, catch-up hangouts. Is ” ’tis the season” really a valid reason to go to every party in your network? That’s up to you, but if you really want to prioritize your health this year, listen to Mindy: “One friend with whom you have a lot in common is better than three with whom you struggle to find things to talk about.” Rescue your time, rescue your health. Say no to FOMO.
Balance acid with alkaline
Not all nutrition experts agree with the alkalinity theory, (the basic idea is that the body is designed to function at a certain balance between acidic and non-acidic foods, and that messing with this balance is a big contributor to disease), it’s generally accepted that balancing mega-meals with some greens is a key immune-supporter. Keep sugar, alcohol, and meat balanced out with “alkaline formers” like lemons, greens, and fruit. (Good news: according to Dr. Oz, white wine is one of these health-promoting alkaline formers. So, there’s that.)
Get some quality shut-eye
Making sleep a priority during the holidays, which is easier said than done, can help strengthen your immune system, give you more energy, and make you less vulnerable to stress. Do what you need to do to ensure some quality shut eye. (Yoga for sleep, anyone?)
Get an app for guidance
Now ain’t the time to launch a health kick, but an app to keep your meditation practice on track or get a handle on your food sensitivities can be a key support. See our roundup of 5 free health apps to download heading into the cold season.
In times of higher sugar and alcohol consumption, water is your best friend. Our kidneys are responsible for filtering out toxins and waste from the blood, and they’re totally dependent upon water to work. Sub the odd egg nog for water, and start your day with a glass to accelerate your metabolism.
For now, since you’re still on the grind, don’t let stress build up only to make you come crashing down come the holidays. Here are six ways to take a chill pill now.