Health tips for the holiday season—how to avoid getting sick

Germs are a constant threat in college settings so it's wise to make sure you're taking care of yourself.

Germs are a constant threat in college settings so it’s wise to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.

You know you need to get that flu shot. And you try to sneeze into your elbow and wash your hands regularly. But are there other things you can be doing so illness passes you by this holiday season? Read on to learn more about some health tips—from exercise to nutrition to prevention—for how to avoid getting sick this winter. 

The basics

Life in college moves pretty fast. You certainly can’t afford to miss too much class time due to illness, but you also don’t want to come down with something during your precious winter vacation. According to a post on November 28, 2013, for Health magazine, “Holiday Health and Safety: Another List to Be Checking Twice” a simple checklist can help you out when it comes to fending off illness or worse.

  1. Wash your hands. A LOT.
  2. Don’t overindulge—in food OR drink. Try to have one glass of water between alcoholic beverages.
  3. Manage your stress and schedule. Plan ahead, go on—try it … you may even like it.
  4. If driving, check the weather forecast and your car—check the tires, have a full tank and a fully charged phone in case of emergencies.

These simple things can make the difference between catching your roommate’s sniffles or spending a night in the campus health center.

Eating right

Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you have to put on a few pounds. And yes, that may even mean telling your grandmother that you don’t want a second helping of her famous fruitcake. Sacrifices may have to be made if you don’t want to be asking Santa for new jeans. Health tips for the holiday season can be just as much about what you don’t do as what you do. Lisa Druxman offered her advice in “5 Health Tips for the Holidays” on

1. Stock up on healthy snacks—to avoid temptation.

2. Consider your workout like any other appointment, schedule it and stick to it.

3. Think twice about what you eat—every little cookie or chocolate adds up.

4. If you don’t make it, you can’t eat it, so skip the holiday baking.

5. Drink, drink and drink some more water.

Additional tips

So you’ve covered the basics, and you’re watching yourself around the tables of holiday goodies that seem to be around every corner, but are there other things you should be incorporating into your health tips for the holiday season? Mark A. Moyad posted “5 Surprising Winter Health Tips” on, an article that offers some new ideas on how to avoid getting sick during the winter months.

First, just because the days are shorter, doesn’t mean the sun is any less bad for you. So continue using sunscreen during the winter months to avoid developing skin cancer down the road. Next, get a flu shot—sure it will help you avoid getting the flu, but it also allows you to be a good citizen and protect your family, professors and friends from the illness.

Finally, look for ways to raise your levels of vitamin D naturally and get more omega-3 fatty acids from plants. Vitamin D levels can be raised through exercise or eating more fatty fish, such as wild salmon. Could you stand to lose a pound or two? Moyad says, “If you lose just 5% or more of your body weight, your vitamin D blood levels will shoot up.” He adds that, “One of the primary omega-3 fatty acids, called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), is found in many plants and plant-based cooking oils, but flaxseed (powder or oil), chia seed, and walnuts are especially good sources of ALA. Recent research is suggesting omega-3s have anti-inflammatory effects, protect the skin, and perhaps even have some impact on mental health.”

So there you have it—a multitude of suggestions on how to avoid getting sick if you follow just a few simple health tips for the holiday season.

How do you stay healthy when winter and cold weather sets in? Share your insights to help others stave off illness this holiday season in the comments below.

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