By Dr. Michael Smith

Stress during the holidays can lead to an increased susceptibility to colds and flu. Don’t let the joys of this holiday season become overcrowded by the stress of it. Here are some simple ways you can improve your enjoyment of this upcoming season:

Water is an essential element to keep your body functioning optimally. Start your morning with a tall glass of water; add a squeeze of lemon for extra flavor. Go for eight glasses a day and add an extra glass for each half hour of exercise, glass of alcohol, and caffeine.

Nourish your body with fresh vegetables, hearty soups, lean meats, whole grains and nuts. Grab some extra broccoli, carrots, or red peppers from the veggie tray, think color when choosing your vegetables; it is these colorful choices that will boost your immune system. Enjoy the delicious holiday desserts and alcoholic drinks in moderation; too much of these can quickly run down your immune system and pack on extra pounds.

During this time of having more to do than usual, your sleep is very important. Have eight hours as your goal, take a power nap on your busy days, even five or ten minutes can do wonders to rejuvenate your body.

Take time to B R E A T H E… A simple way to instantly reduce your stress. Take three deep breaths, concentrate fully on the inhalation and exhalation, feel the calming sensations throughout your body as you breathe your problems away.

Schedule time to exercise… right now, look ahead at your calendar and plan on when you will exercise and write it down. Combine aerobic, resistance training and stretching as a great stress reliever and immune booster.

Don’t over commit yourself this year. Enjoy the time with friends and family and do what honors you by maintaining balance in your life.

Take time for you…pamper yourself with a massage, pedicure, or hot bubble bath and allow yourself to RELAX. Massage, acupuncture, yoga, sauna or steam bath can all help to reduce stress and boost your immune system.

Supplement your diet with a quality multivitamin and when the stress hits add an extra 2000-3000mg of vitamin C a day to help ward off illness.

This holiday season focus on what is important to you and makes this time of year special. Write it down as a simple phrase or word andreflect on it daily.

Be proactive about your health by using these simple suggestions to ensure that you are feeling good this holiday season so you can spend quality time enjoying it.

Dr. Michael Smith is a Naturopathic Physician currently practicing at Carolinas Natural Health Center in Matthews. Dr. Smith can be reached at 704-708-4404.