‘Tis the Season to Prevent the Holiday Cold

Jennifer Dennard  @JennDennard
January 20, 2016  | Last Updated: January 19, 2016

Christmas is in full swing at our house. The tree is up, my shopping list has dwindled to a manageable level, and I’m about to embark on a full day of holiday treat-making. Puppy chow and sausage balls are family favorites, while peppermint bark runs a close third.

While one of my favorite times of year, the holidays can also be one of the most stressful. And as I’ve learned the hard way, stress often leads to illness. Family gatherings, holiday parties, special church events, and marathon shopping trips all seem like fun things to do, but schedule them too close together and your probability of feeling burnt out and run down climbs higher. 


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What’s a social, on-the-go woman to do? The biggest tip I can offer is to scale back on the commitments, especially those that are scheduled on the same day. If party hopping is unavoidable, refrain from volunteering to set up, clean up, or bring anything. Instead, consider making hostess gifts of festive poinsettias. Their brilliant red blooms will distract from the fact that you don’t have the time to be your normal, helpful self.

Christmas card delivery can also seem overwhelming at times. There’s nothing wrong with taking a year off from sending any out. You could even scale back and only send cards to close friends and family members. My ambition to send our family’s card out by mid-December turned out to be just too much, and so I’ve decided to give myself some breathing room and send out Happy New Year tidings instead.

Finally, there are some very tangible steps you can take to protect yourself from feeling run down and catching the common cold. (There’s nothing worse than being sick on Christmas. I can still remember, as an 8-year-old, waking up Christmas morning and realizing I was too ill to want to play the brand new Nintendo gaming system Santa brought me.) Some of my favorites include:

  1. 1. Stay hydrated. In addition to boosting immunity, water also keeps your nose’s mucus membranes moist and sticky to trap bacteria and viruses.
  2. 2. Don’t forget the hand sanitizer. Use a brand that’s at least 60 percent alcohol.
  3. 3. An apple a day may just keep the doctor away. The fruit’s antioxidant properties may help boost your immune system during times of stress.
  4. 4. Indulge in a health shake each morning to counteract the typical holiday comfort foods you’ll indulge in later. Consider adding ingredients like apples, blueberries, a liquid vitamin, omega-3 oil, vitamin D, cinnamon, and protein powder.
  5. 5. Make disinfectant spray your best friend. Spritz high-touch objects like toys, faucet handles, doorknobs, phones, and keyboard to ensure germs don’t get passed along.
  6. 6. Stay active. Can’t make it to the gym during the holidays? Try short walks around the neighborhood instead. A fit physique is better at warding off the common cold.
  7. 7. Feel a cold coming on? Add honey to your favorite tea and take advantage of its antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. A ginger tea made of fresh, chopped ginger steeped in boiling water also can help abate an oncoming cold. 
  8. 8. Start taking a daily dose of vitamin C today. There’s no time like the present to prevent future suffering.

(See our Cold and Flu Season special section for other tips.)

Here’s wishing you and yours a merry, stress-free Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year!

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