The holidays are upon us and busy home, social and work schedules can lead to excess stress and anxiety. Combined with cold and flu season this time of year, it is important to keep your immune system strong to prevent getting sick at a time when nobody wants to feel tired or congested.
An important factor in keeping your health and your senses together is making sure you are getting a good night’s sleep. Sleeplessness can lead to irritability, drowsiness, difficulty concentrating and your immune system to not function optimally. If you are tossing and turning, there are things you can do to help relax into sleep naturally.
While we generally enjoy the holidays, we all know they can be stressful. Instead of struggling through the holidays, enjoy a healthy, low-stress holiday season this year with some of the following tips.
Tips for reducing stress and improving sleep:
- Avoid excess food and drinks before bedtime. Aim for an early dinner and choose fresh fruit over sugary treats.
- Instead of a cup of coffee or hot toddy after dinner, enjoy a cup of herbal tea to help you relax in preparation for sleep — hops, passionflower, lemon balm, chamomile and valerian are a few herbs traditionally used to help promote relaxation.
- Create a calm sleep environment by ensuring your bedroom is dark, quiet and comfortable.
- Try to incorporate daily stress-management techniques such as cardiovascular exercise meditation or yoga.
Tips for protecting yourself from the common cold and flu:
- With all of the hand shakes at holiday parties, be sure to wash your hands often with soap and water and try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth since that is often how the viruses enter the body.
- Improve your nutrition by keeping your intake of fresh fruits and veggies high and hold off on excess sweets and alcoholic drinks.
- Participate in moderate daily exercise (30 minutes a day), which has been shown to help boost the immune system. But avoid intense exercise since the body may perceive it as additional stress.
- Considering taking immune boosting supplements such as probiotics, elderberry syrup and vitamin D3
Following these tips can enhance your immune system and reduce your stress this holiday season, but sometimes our bodies need extra help. If you are continuously stressed, have a chronic illness or catch every cold and flu, you may have a nutritional deficiency, adrenal insufficiency or another underlying cause that is preventing you from achieving your optimal health. For example, nutrient deficiencies in B12, vitamin D and iron can reduce your ability to fight off infections as well as maintain emotional balance.
Naturopathic physicians are trained in both conventional and natural medicines and through comprehensive evaluations and testing, they can help unveil your obstacles to healing. Using natural medicines, naturopathic physicians can assist you in restoring your health and vitality. If your symptoms are not improving, look for a naturopathic physician in your area to assist you on your path for a healthy holiday season and New Year.