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The holiday season is officially here. Well, according to retail stores, it’s been here since October 15, but I’m officially calling it because Thanksgiving is just days away. Let’s discuss ways for avoiding illness during the holiday season. 

With the holly jolly season upon us, it’s hard to avoid being around a cough, a cold, a flu, or any sickness for that matter. We are thrust into a solid a month of activities that tend to wear on us, but because it’s the most wonderful time of the year, we try to fit it all in.

What do you do to take care of yourself during the busiest season? I typically get a flu shot, take my elderberry vitamins, take probiotics every morning, and wash my hands more than anyone should.

We all know the basics on how to stay healthy. I reached out to my chiropractor, Dr. Claire Jessen at Minnesota Movement to pick her brain on how she suggests we protect ourselves by avoiding illness during the holiday season. She had great ideas that focus around our circadian rhythm and keeping it in sync.

What is circadian rhythm you ask?

The simple way to put it is it’s our body’s master clock that’s housed in our brain and tells our body when to sleep, wake up, and eat. It runs on a 24-hour cycle and optimizes our biological functions. When our body is in sync with its natural patterns, it is healthy and at ease. When it gets out of rhythm, dis-ease sets in.

Most of us understand why it’s important to eat a nutritious diet, exercise, and get sleep. We strive to get eight hours of sleep, train at the gym, and try to eat a healthy diet, but why do we still not feel 100%? It could be because we aren’t paying attention to when we eat, when we exercise, and when we sleep. Our circadian rhythm is most likely misaligned or out of sync.

Dr. Jessen explained how the timing of eating, sleeping, and exercising can affect our circadian rhythm and how we can improve it.

When our body is in sync with its natural patterns, it is healthy and at ease. When it gets out of rhythm, dis-ease sets in.

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Eating

Try time-restricted eating. Basically, you set a meal clock and eat within a certain window of time. Eating within a 12 hour period is the most common, but some people practice intermittent fasting where they eat for 8 hours and fast for 16 hours. This allows our body to level out insulin and other hormones, boost the immune system and essentially gives are body time to clean out toxins. If you don’t allow yourself the time to reboot and clean house, you may put yourself at risk for blood sugar issues, toxicity, and ultimately illness.

An easy way to ease into time-restricted eating is to give up late night eating. Stop eating at least two hours before bed. There is a clock that starts in our body after our final bite of our last meal. It takes about two hours after that last bite for our body to prepare for sleep and repair. By not eating before bed, we sleep better and give our body time to start repair itself.

Sleeping

Who loves a good night’s sleep? Sleep is essential in staying healthy and like I said earlier, it allows our body to repair and reset.

Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep and keep in mind that it normally takes up to 30 minutes to fall asleep. In order to get high quality sleep and enough of it, it’s important to limit exposure to blue light before bed. This includes the TV, cell phone, iPad, and computer. Blue light shuts down natural production of melatonin, which is what tells our body to wind down. Dr. Jessen suggests getting a pair of blue light blocking glasses. Wear them towards the end of the workday and at home in the evening.

Make it a goal to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Or, at least focus on waking up at the same time on the daily. The consistent pattern that we create helps to keep our circadian rhythm in check.

Exercising

According to the Mayo Clinic, we should exercise for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week. But, does the time of day matter when you exercise?

Dr. Jessen says that we should try and workout in the morning or afternoon. Morning exercise helps to reduce stress hormones, which ultimately puts us in a better mood. Afternoon workouts typically provide an increased performance because our bodies are partially primed for afternoon activity.

The most important aspect with exercise is to just find the time to do it. Getting sweaty helps our mood, our sleep, our concentration, decreases anxiety and depression, and it strengthens our body’s adaptability.

All of these indirectly help in avoiding illness. Now that you are all experts on keeping our circadian rhythm aligned, hopefully we can all avoid illness this holiday season. If you do end up getting sick, remember, it’s okay to rest and recover. It’s important to be considerate of others. I guarantee that our friends, family, and coworkers appreciate that we stay home and not spread germs everywhere.

 

About the writer

Headshot of Jeanna Simonson, Life Insurance Marketing Content and Social Media at Quotacy, Inc. in Minneapolis. Holiday gift ideas.

Jeanna Simonson

Marketing Content and Social Media

Jeanna has a passion for letting her creativity shine. At Quotacy she manages social media, is a co-host of Quotacy's Q&A Friday YouTube channel, and enjoys writing here and there. When she's not at the office, you can find her hanging with her husband and rescue animals, brunching with girlfriends, or loving up on her nieces and nephews. Connect with her on LinkedIn.