The holiday season — the time that begins with Thanksgiving and ends with New Year’s Day — is a busy time. With holiday parties, shopping and family get-togethers, the last thing we want is to get sick. Unfortunately, the holidays are a prime time to fall ill.



It’s so easy
There are a couple of reasons why it is so easy to become ill during the holiday season, says family medicine physician Neha Vyas, MD.

One is that, for those of us living in cold climates, we are inside most of the time breathing the same air. Another is the fact that we are socializing much more.

“We are indoors much more than we are in other seasons,” Dr. Vyas says. “Also, we are around more people. We’re in closer contact with people through office parties, parties in general, or out at the mall. So it’s much easier to pick up germs in those environments than it would be in other times of the year.”

Hiding in plain sight
Germs can be picked up almost anywhere, Dr. Vyas says. But common places often are surfaces that have been touched by a lot of people. Shopping carts, door handles, money, key pads and pens on credit card readers are all places where germs can live.

Dr. Vyas doesn’t advise you to avoid going out at the holidays just to avoid germs. But it’s extremely important to wash your hands after touching such surfaces, she says.

“You’re always around germs,” Dr. Vyas says. “You just have to make it a point to be aware of them and take necessary precautions.”

Being mindful
Stopping the spread of germs can start with being more mindful of your own health situation, Dr. Vyas says.

“If you’re sick, then take a step back and ask yourself: Is it really this important to go to a certain place, or go to a particular party where you could infect people?” Dr. Vyas says.

Running on empty during the holidays — by not getting enough sleep, not eating well, and getting toostressed out — can make you more susceptible to getting sick as well, Dr. Vyas say.

“Take the time to get a good night’s sleep, eat healthy nutritious meals, and spend a few minutes performing deep breathing or meditation exercises to get you through this holiday season in optimal health,” Dr. Vyas says.

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