It seems to me that winter is often plagued with colds and other illnesses that can often take the “holly” out of holiday. Over the years, I have found ways to help support my own immune system so that I can stay healthy all season long. I’m sure you, too, want to stay healthy this holiday season, especially after the craziness of the last few years with Covid. I hope these 5 ways to stay healthy this holiday season helps you enjoy this wonderful time of the year just a little more.
I am not a doctor. These are things that have helped me personally but may not be right for you. Please consult your personal physician before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a marathon run or a weightlifting competition, unless that’s what you’re doing. If you are then make sure you’re training properly so that you don’t hurt yourself. But you already knew that.
The best kind of exercise would be like a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout. Something that makes your heart rate operate at different intervals. It doesn’t have to be a long session, either. If you’re just starting out then aim for a total of 15 minutes, including your warm-up and cool down. Yes, warm-ups and cool downs are important! My favorite warm-up is hands down ballet barre work and my favorite cool down is a nice stretch.
Exercise needs to be more than just cardio though. You also need to build some muscle. Adding light weights or working with a resistance band can help. If you want to go equipment free, using your own body weight works too. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that exercising has to be this expensive endeavor. It’s not.
Exercising in the winter, when the days are shorter, releases endorphins which can help fight seasonal depression. Apparently it’ll help you burn more calories, too, as opposed to warmer months. It also helps increase your lung capacity and receiving more oxygen means cleansing out more free radicals and other toxins in your body that could negatively affect your health. Also, I think we tend to eat more fattening foods during this season and exercise can help provide a proper balance for that.
Consider adding a supplement to your daily routine if you don’t already. Vitamins and other supplements, like echinacea and zinc, help support the immune system to fight off the dreaded winter diseases. They also help support body function so that the toxins that aid the diseases in the first place are flushed out properly.
If you’d like to get two-in-one then you can also bundle up and take a short walk outside to get some Vitamin D. Getting fresh air will help cleanse your body of toxins and pollutants that build up from keeping our houses shut up in the cold weather. Vitamin D is one of the best vitamins for immune system support.
Stay Away from Candles and Air Fresheners.
Speaking of pollutants, I love the smell of candles (not pumpkin) and Holiday air fresheners, but the reality is that they’re bad for you. Technically they’re bad for you at any time of the year, but during the winter we shut up our houses and get less fresh air, allowing the toxins to build up in the air and in our bodies. They can cause a myriad of health problems including headaches or even respiratory issues. If you can’t give them up (and trust me, I understand) then do your research and find one that has less harmful chemicals.
Stay Away from Sugar
Did you know that sugar lowers your immune system? I learned this fact many years ago and it shocked me, but it also made sense. That year I refrained from eating as much sugar as I usually would and wouldn’t you know it, that was the healthiest winter season I had experienced in a long time.
Now please, don’t misunderstand, I am not telling you to remove sugar from everything (please, I’m not that kind of masochist) but I would suggest balancing your sugar intake with a healthier dish or find a healthier alternative like honey to use in your cooking. Whatever you do, don’t eat too much sugar.
Use Healthy Alternatives
Instead of another round of hot cocoa or commercial apple cider (which I will admit I am a sucker for) why not drink a hot cup of Chai Tea? I love drinking tea and when I was growing up, it was the only time I could stand honey. FYI, drinking tea with honey is a delicious way to build up your immune system, especially if the honey is locally harvested. If you don’t like Chai Tea, there’s a number of tea flavors that go with the feeling of the season.
Using healthy alternatives in your cooking could also provide added health benefits to your meals, something we could all use a bit more of. Some of the more known alternatives include unsweetened apple sauce, greek yogurt, honey, and coconut flour. One super food that I didn’t know is Chia seeds. Apparently you can use them instead of eggs? I haven’t tried it yet but it might be worth it because chia seeds are packed with nutrients.
There are so many alternatives, it’ll be easy to find one to incorporate in your holiday meals and festivities. Maybe you’ll find a whole new tradition to pass on to future generations.
How do you try to stay healthy during the winter season?
I’d love to hear your own tips and ideas in the comments!