The holidays can be a joyful time, but they can also be a major source of stress. There’s family, travel, cooking, and more. But don’t let the holiday hustle and bustle take a toll on your health. A few smart steps can help you stay well all season long.
How the Stress of Holidays Can Affect Your Health
Stress can take a toll on your health, both mentally and physically. With the stress of holiday traditions and expectations, we can often be left feeling overwhelmed. Constant stress on your body will cause it to go into fight or flight mode, releasing more hormones like cortisol as an evolutionary response for your body’s survival.
Cortisol is a hormone that helps you deal with stress. In small doses, it’s beneficial. But when you’re constantly stressed, your body may produce too much cortisol. This can lead to weight gain, heart disease, trouble sleeping, and other health problems as well as affect your immune cells’ effectiveness. Chronic stress or prolonged exposure to an increased amount of cortisol can lead to a weak immune system and interfere with your body’s ability to fight inflammation and infection, so it’s important to manage stress.
What makes a healthy immune system?
A healthy immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria. The first line of defense is the skin, which acts as a barrier to keep harmful microbes out. If something does get through, the next line of defense is the lymphatic system. This network of vessels and nodes help to filter out unwanted substances and fight infection.
The lymphatic system also works with the immune system to produce antibodies, which are proteins that help destroy foreign invaders. The immune system also contains special cells called white blood cells, which eat up viruses and bacteria.
All these different parts of the immune system work together to keep you healthy. But when you’re stressed, your body produces cortisol, which can interfere with the immune system’s ability to do its job.
Why is your immune function important?
Your immune response is important because it helps protect your body from infection and disease. When you have a strong immune system, you’re less likely to get sick or have chronic inflammation or illness. A strong immune system is also important for people who are more susceptible to illness, such as those with cancer or HIV/AIDS.
7 Tips for Keeping Your Immune System Strong This Holiday Season
Get adequate sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t have time to repair and heal itself. Make sure you’re getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night to boost your immune system.
Plan ahead as much as possible. This can help you avoid last-minute rushes and stressful situations.
Set realistic expectations. Don’t try to do too much in too little time. Prioritize what’s most important to you and your family.
Keep up with your regular health routine. That means maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. These habits will help keep your immune system strong and able to fight off any bugs that come your way.
Be careful about the food you eat. Holiday parties are full of tempting treats, but sugary foods can actually weaken your immune system. So indulge in moderation, and make sure to balance out the sweets with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Wash your hands often. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of disease. Carry hand sanitizer with you when you’re out and about, and use it often.
Take some time to relax. Stress can weaken your immune system, so try to find ways to minimize stress during the hectic holiday season. Take a few deep breaths, take a break from social media, or just spend some time alone in nature. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be better equipped to fight off any illness that comes your way.