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Winter can be a challenging time of year for our immunity. The combination of colder temperatures and dry heat lead to a surplus of illnesses, particularly colds and the flu. Busy holiday schedules mean increased stress, which can be tough on your immune system and your emotional health. Holiday parties and feasts, although enjoyable, can wreak havoc on your daily diet and make it tough to eat well-balanced meals.
Staying aware of the possible risks associated with the season can help boost your immunity in a variety of areas. Whether it’s your mental health, waistline or your actual immune system, here are some tips to help build up your immunity during the winter months.
Everyone knows that winter is a prime time of year for colds and flu. Protecting yourself from infection involves conscious action in several forms.
First, get a seasonal flu shot as early in the season as possible and be sure to get one annually. Each year, the vaccine changes to protect against different strains of influenza, so your flu shot this year may not protect you in the future.
Washing hands often can reduce exposure to pathogens, and getting plenty of rest can help your immune system function more efficiently.
Studies have also shown that exercising during the winter can help protect against illnesses and boost immunity. Individuals who get at least three hours of moderate physical activity per day (power walking, climbing stairs, etc.) are 35 percent less likely to catch a cold or the flu.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that is brought on by the way the light changes with the seasons. People who are affected by SAD are often triggered around the same time each year, during the winter months. Due to the shorter days, decreased sunlight, and changes in sleep patterns, symptoms can include oversleeping, lack of energy, moodiness, and changes in behavior.
At home, try using light therapy boxes with full-spectrum light bulbs to make your environment brighter. These boxes contain artificial lighting that create the illusion of natural daylight and have been proven very effective in suppressing melatonin production. Many people also find that exercise helps them relieve the depression and anxiety associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The holidays can be an especially challenging time for people who struggle with their weight. Seasonal stress can lead to emotional eating, and hectic schedules can lead to less healthy meals. And, the festive foods often served at dinner parties are often laden in sugar and fat. A big part of healthy winter living is managing a balanced diet to avoid holiday weight gain.
When going to holiday parties, eat a snack first so that you are not as tempted to fill up on carb-loaded or sugary treats. If you are hosting a big feast, there is no need to miss out on all the delicious food. Eat slowly and use a smaller plate; this will force you to practice portion control and trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more than you really are.
The winter months can be a stressful time of year but building some immunity can make it a little easier. By staying aware of the season’s hurdles, you can better avoid them and stay focused on the holiday cheer. For more tips on staying healthy this holiday season, or for immediate medical assistance, visit CareSpot Urgent Care.