Leslie Vandever shares tips for staying healthy when traveling over the holiday season.
If you’re like most Americans, you face the holiday season—that period from just before Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day—with a mixture of pleasant anticipation and a sort of resigned dread. There are fun presents, goodies, feasts, pretty decorations, parties full of laughter and camaraderie, and the opportunity to spend time with the extended family. It’s the very definition of “the most wonderful time of year,” as the old song goes.
But traveling during the holidays can add its own, special challenges—and nobody wants to face them while fighting off a cold, or feeling run-down and generally unhealthy. This year, stop and take care of your health before you hop in the sleigh to Grandma’s house.
Get vaccinated. If you haven’t had your flu shot yet, get it at least two weeks before your trip. That way, you’ll be far less likely to catch it from someone. Vaccinating against pneumonia, whooping cough, and shingles is smart, too.
Drink water. Try for at least 8 measuring cups full each day. Water helps your body function at its best and flushes impurities that can slow you down from your system. You’ll look, move, and feel better if you’re well-hydrated.
Rest well. Make sure you hit the hay each night at a reasonable hour. Shoot for seven good hours of sleep. During the day, take frequent, short rest breaks—but avoid napping for more than 15 minutes. Consider deepening your rest with simple meditation exercises, like counting your breaths or slow, deep breathing.
Decompress the stress. As busy as the holiday season is, we often forget to take breaks for fun and relaxation, but they’re vital for good mental and physical health. Meditation is a good way to beat stress. So is playing a game, dancing in the kitchen, and doing a little last-minute work in the garden before winter descends.
Eat mindfully. Plan your time so you’re not stuck wolfing junky, high-calorie fast-food on the run. Instead, make it a point to sit down for tasty, balanced, nourishing meals. Mindful eating will help keep your energy levels and spirits high while helping your body function at its best.
Move your bod. Five short minutes of exercise, done five or six times a day, is just as good as 30 minutes of sustained exercise. It keeps your blood moving and oxygenated and helps your muscles, brain, and other organs work at top efficiency. Try running in place, doing jumping jacks, stretching, or using resistance bands or hand-weights.
Dress in layers. Nothing’s worse than shivering or sweating with no way to get more comfortable. Dress in thin layers as you travel. It’ll make it simple to add or subtract clothing to fit the temperature and your activity.
Wash your hands. Traveling means being in heavily used public places, which are teeming with gazillions of viruses and germs. Avoid catching or spreading colds or the flu. Wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds at every opportunity. Or, carry a small bottle of antibacterial gel in your pocket or purse and use it frequently.
Take care of you. Continue that mindful eating, resting, hydrating, and exercising. You’ll feel your best and have a really great, really healthy holiday season.
Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. She lives in Northern California.
Holiday Health and Safety Tips. (2014, Feb. 5) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on November 26, 2014 from http://www.cdc.gov/family/holiday/
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