SOMERSET COUNTY, NJ - With the holiday season upon us, it seems everywhere we turn we are surrounded by people who are sick. Whether your schedule is full of holiday parties or you plan on traveling this season, now is the time to be conscious of your health and take precautionary measures to avoid getting sick. To kick off the holiday season – or as some refer to it the “cold and flu season” – I’ve compiled a list of simple tips and lifestyle modifications you can make to make sure the holiday cheer doesn’t get you down, mentally or physically.

  1. Rest is key. Your calendar is probably a bit more crowded than other months of the year, and when trying to adapt to that crazy schedule, we are often tempted to skimp on rest. Don’t let your rest time fall by the wayside, because it has a number of benefits for your mind and body. Make it a priority to get an adequate amount of sleep each night, usually around seven to nine hours, to keep your immune system healthy, keep your energy levels high and maintain your weight.
  2. Eat healthy. Many people traditionally use their Thanksgiving feast as a kick-off to a holiday eating frenzy that lasts through the New Year. Don’t let yourself be one of those people. Take time to celebrate and enjoy yourself, but be conscious of what you’re putting on your plate and have portion control. With an abundance of cookies and fatty treats on the table, it is important to pile your plate with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables to ensure you are fueling your body with an array of essential vitamins and minerals. Keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water and I recommend that you plan your alcohol consumption wisely, as well.
  3. Exercise. Don’t neglect your exercise program during the holiday season. Use it as an excuse to catch up with a family member or friend who is back in town. Take a walk in a park, buddy up at the local gym or take a yoga class together instead of meeting up for the typical cocktail or lunch date.
  4. Stay clean and germ-free. Constantly wash your hands with warm water and soap and be sure to carry a hand sanitizer with you, especially if you are traveling. It’s smart to use sanitizer before and after contact with other people. Carrying tissues with you can also come in handy, to avoid spreading germs. If you start to feel a cold coming on, it’s best not to shake hands or hug your loves ones.
  5. Stay warm. Wear several layers of clothing, especially as the temperature continues to decline. Don’t forget to cover your ears, neck and hands. During those below-freezing days, try to avoid going outdoors.
  6. Get vaccinated. As we head into peak flu season, I urge you to consider getting vaccinated. The flu can really get your holiday cheer down, both mentally and physically, and in some cases it can even be deadly. A flu vaccination is especially recommended for young children, adults over the age of 50 and pregnant women. The flu shot is a safe and effective way to avoid this potentially life threatening illness, but if you have any questions or concerns, I urge you to speak with your health care provider. You can also look to your local hospital for additional information and to get vaccinated.
  7. Seek help. Don’t wait to get help when you need it. If you begin to feel sick, visit your physician and talk about your symptoms so you can get treated before it worsens.

The holidays are a time for happiness and good spirits, so don’t let your health take you down. Avoid the holiday blues and flus by following these tips, and make your overall health and well being your topmost priority.