Don’t let getting sick ruin your holiday season!
For many of us, holiday season is travel season. Whether driving, flying, or using public transportation, the fact is that extensive travel of any kind can be tough on the body and lead to an increased likelihood of getting sick. With seasonal illnesses such as colds, coughs, and flu showing up in large numbers throughout New England, taking steps to stay healthy is crucial to enjoying the holidays ahead.
Are you traveling for the holidays? Here are six things you can do to avoid getting sick.
1. Practice Smart Self-care Before, During, and After Your Trip
There is no true way to ensure 100% safety against picking up a cold while running around an airport or sitting on a bus for 8 hours, but there are plenty of things you can do to boost your immune response. Self-care plays a key role in staying healthy when surrounded by others who are sick. Here are a few things you can start to do immediately:
- Get Plenty of Sleep. Sleep deprivation is one of the fastest ways to cause the immune system to suffer, as immune-boosting white blood cells actually grow in numbers as we sleep. To increase your chances of staying healthy, start preparing for your travel early and make sure that you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night leading up to your trip. While travel often interrupts our normal routines, do your best to continue getting between 7 to 9 hours of sleep throughout your trip, and once you return home.
- Eat a Healthy Diet. Fast-food and other conveniences are easy to fall into when traveling, however these items often lack proper nutrients and are laden with salt, fat and preservatives. Instead, make efforts to stick to a diet of leafy greens, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates (such as whole grains and starchy vegetables like peas and beans). If you do fall culprit to fast-food and other less healthy options while traveling, it can be tough to get back on track. Do your best to return to a healthy diet as soon as you return home.
- Hydrate! Dehydration can lead to a number of uncomfortable symptoms including confusion, sluggishness and headaches; it can also affect your body’s immune response. Be sure to drink the proper amount of water before, during, and after your travel! The best way to determine how much water you need on a daily basis is to divide your body weight in half and drink that amount of water in ounces. As an example, a person who weighs 140 pounds should ideally drink around 70 ounces of water each day.
2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings & Sanitize Surfaces
The vast majority of seasonal illnesses most people encounter throughout this time of year are airborne. That is, they are spread via close (or even not so close) contact with those who are sick—primarily through coughing, sneezing, and surface contamination. If you’re planning on flying or otherwise traveling with others in a tight space, paying close attention to your surroundings and staying away from those who appear to be ill can help you avoid catching what they may have. It is also a good idea to travel with sanitizer wipes. If you’re boarding a plane or using public transportation this holiday season, be sure to wipe down the arms, tray, seat belt clip, railings etc. to keep yourself safe from germs.
3. Wash, Wash, Wash Your Hands
It’s perhaps the most basic tip to avoid getting sick, but practicing good hand-washing habits is truly the first line of defense against seasonal illnesses. This is especially true for those who will be moving through airports and bus terminals as part of their holiday travel, where you are surrounded by potentially contaminated surfaces. Wash your hands regularly for at least 30 seconds with soap and warm water; carrying hand sanitizer can also be helpful if you don’t have access to a restroom.
4. Wash Your Produce Before Consuming
Believe it or not, viruses and bacteria are often spread this time of year via our food chain. An apple, for example, may have been handled by numerous different people before finally arriving in your grocery basket, allowing it plenty of chances to pick up spreadable germs in the process. While washing fruits and vegetables before cooking or eating them raw is always advisable, it’s especially important during the fall and winter months, when seasonal illnesses are common.
5. Manage Your Stress Levels
Holiday travel can be extremely stressful at times. Cancelled flights, poor weather and a wide range of other unexpected issues can cause stress levels to go through the roof for many people. As stress can directly impact the immune system, it’s important to stay mindful of how you’re feeling and slow down when you are feeling overwhelmed. Taking even 60 seconds to close your eyes and focus on your breathing can be an effective way to “recalibrate” so as to better approach the situation in front of you.
6. Allow Yourself Time to Recover
Finally, it’s important to give yourself time to recover. Most of us get home and jump right back into work. To keep your mind and body healthy, give yourself a day or two to rest, relax, and catch up on sleep.
If you are busy traveling and think you or a family member may have caught a seasonal illness, be sure to stop into any ConvenientMD location in New Hampshire, Maine or Massachusetts to start feeling better today!