The holiday season is in full swing, and with it, anticipation, excitement, nostalgia, and often times, sickness. Between exhaustion from preparation, traveling, playing host – or with some families, mediator – your body may not be ready for the two-month-long party. Here are seven tips to boost your immune system so that you can truly enjoy a happy, healthy holiday season.

1. Fruit, Not Fruitcake

Maintain a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains heart-healthy legumes and good fats (such as avocados, extra virgin olive oil). Avoid heavily processed foods, such as lunch meats and frozen dinners, as well as refined sugars and saturated fats. An organic daily multivitamin will also help to ensure your body is receiving the necessary vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Take Action: Get rid of the processed foods in your home right now & head to the grocery store for some fresh veggies. Cauliflower is in season & is a great source of fiber & potassium. Roast it with olive oil, or steam & mash it up with a little bit of creamy cheese!

2. Baby, It’s Great Outside

If you want a fighting chance against those sugar plumbs, you need to get moving. Exercise at least 30 minutes per day, three to four times per week. Walking does not count; get in some vigorous cardio such as running, bike riding, or circuit training. Take Action: Map out a mile from your front door and back, lace up your sneakers and hit the ground RUNNING!

3. And to All a Good Night

For many of us, getting adequate rest is as hard as making the time to exercise. At least seven hours per night is needed for the body to recharge and carry you through a busy day. Take Action: Magnesium is a mineral that relaxes the body. About 30 minutes before bedtime, grab a handful of raw almonds (they are loaded with magnesium) as a quick and healthy snack, turn off the TV, and lie comfortably in bed, allowing your body to relax into a great night’s slumber.

4. Spread Cheer, Not Germs

Keep up with personal hygiene, along with all the Season’s Greetings. Wash your hands several times throughout the day, especially before meals or touching your face or mouth. Brush your teeth at least twice a day to avoid decay and disease. Take Action: Add a small bottle of hand sanitizer and travel-sized toothpaste and toothbrush to your purse or pocket. Sanitize after each personal encounter, and brush after every meal.

5. All the Noise, Noise, Noise Noise!

From advertisers and merchants to children and distant family members, everybody will be screaming for your attention this season. Pay attention to your body first. As soon as you start to feel “off,” be sure to get to the doctor and/or begin a homeopathic recovery routine. As everyone gathered around the television on game day will tell you, the best defense is a good offense, so don’t delay. Harvard Medical School recommends getting regular medical screenings for things you may be at risk for, depending on genetics, age and gender. Take Action: Call your doctor and schedule a wellness visit, BEFORE your calendar gets filled up.

6. Rock and Roll in Moderation

Yes, the holidays are a great time for some extra “cheer,” but binge drinking will wear your body down. Take it easy on the spirits and have a glass of water between each alcoholic drink. Still smoking? Quit. Now. Don’t wait to make it a New Year’s Resolution, gift yourself with long-term health and give that nasty habit up for good. Take Action: Volunteer to be the designated driver for you and your friends at the next holiday bash. You’ll be a hero in many ways!

7. All is Calm, All is Bright

Fill your mind and heart with positivity. Stress can take you out of the game, so avoid the hurriedness of the holidays and enjoy them for what they are. So what if the house isn’t spotless when guests arrive? It’s fine if you missed an item on your child’s Christmas list (you’ll be able to find it on eBay the day after Christmas anyway and an additional gift extends the holiday!) Take Action: Attend church or meditate. Carve a little time for yourself to expel the ick so you don’t end up sick!

Diet, exercise and stress levels all effect your immune system. Adopt a few healthy living habits now and enjoy, enjoy, ENJOY! This season goes by fast. Instead of a lingering cough or cold, let fun, happy memories be your takeaway from the holidays this year.

What do you do to avoid illness during the holiday season? Let me know in the comments below.

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About the author

Kate Jaramillo

Health and fitness are not just hobbies, but important aspects of my life. From leading weekly indoor cycling/spinning classes, exercising in my home, working on my Personal Training Certification, and drafting a cook book keep my mind, body and spirit in shape.

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