Ever wonder why, especially in the years after 55, it never fails that you get sick over the holidays? You are barely holding on and then everything hits the wall, including you.

The holidays – with all of the festivities and cheer they hold for us, our children and grandchildren – can also be fraught with stress and the disruption of being off your normal routine.

Think holiday parties and gatherings, visiting and being visited by friends and relatives, travel.… and these are just a few “out of the normal” activities you partake in.

You probably aren’t getting enough sleep, your regular exercise routine is disrupted, and you are likely eating food that you really shouldn’t be eating. You may also be a bit on edge trying to get everything done. Does this resonate a tad?

Then the dreaded happens! Runny nose, cough, fever… and you are down and feeling miserable. Here we go again. Sick once again on another holiday. Argh.

It’s the Stress!

There are a few things in play that can and will take down even the toughest. For example, the increased level of stress during these times often starts the downward spiral.

We have a short period of time to shop for gifts (yes, we had promised ourselves that we would find gifts way back in July, but that didn’t happen), and with increased stress your immunity begins to take a hit.

Once that happens, anyone – friend, child, grandchild – who is sniffling and gets in your air space, hugging and touching you, and touching every surface area, can easily give you the sniffles too. You succumb to those sniffles.

But there are some things you can do to minimize the problem:

Wash Your Hands – Often

Germs are on every surface, just waiting for you to touch that surface. In this time of year, you are in contact with more people who are traveling from other areas of the country and the world.

The germs they bring over are new to you and are particularly interested in making your acquaintance and wreaking havoc to your health.

Solution: Carry hand gel or disinfectant wipes to wipe down that plane or train table, your office desk, and any space you touch, and wash your hands. People underestimate the power of the hand-wash, but you can get the upper hand (no pun intended).

In the time it takes to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or Happy Birthday, you can get those hands cleaned. Seems simple and it is, but you would be surprised how many people skimp on a good handwashing and then go and touch those germy surfaces and their face and – alas! – you are sick!

Increase Your Water Consumption

It’s always a good idea to drink plenty of water, but especially in this season. The cold air dehydrates us, as do heated rooms (for those who are in colder climates). If we drink alcohol during these joyous occasions, that also dehydrates us.

I recommend 1 glass of water with every alcoholic beverage. It will help you drink less alcohol (think of those office parties past) and keep you hydrated. You will be better able to fight those cold germs.

If you do just these two things, it will go a long way to keeping you healthier during the holidays. We can’t ease your stress, do your shopping, or keep those wonderful sniffling friends and family away.

But you can do just those two things on a regular basis and have the best chance for staying healthy and enjoying all that the holidays bring.

How do you handle the sniffles in the holiday season? Are there any tips you find particularly helpful? Please share them in the comments below.

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