10 Toxic Habits To Avoid When Winter's Bumming You Out

For many people, winter feels like a time when stress and sickness are inevitable. But they don't have to be! If you avoid these 10 habits, you can help make your winter a healthy, happy one:

1. Hanging around sick people

How do you avoid sick people? It's almost impossible at this time of year to avoid people coughing and sneezing in your face, but perhaps walk away (politely) from someone at a cocktail party who's actively coughing and sneezing. When you safely can get to the bathroom, wash your hands, as your hands transmit the virus to your mouth and eyes, spreading it throughout your system.

2. Overeating

How do we avoid overeating at all of the holiday parties? The answer is counterintuitive; don't go to the party hungry. If you go to a gathering and you haven't eaten all day, you'll surely say yes to all of the greasy hors d'oeuvres, but if you eat an apple with peanut butter on the way to the party, you'll be less inclined to eat less healthy food.

3. Binge drinking

Holidays bring out the worst in people and our alcohol consumption goes up! So, try to carry around one glass of Champagne or wine for hours and sip it.

4. Not getting enough sleep

We're pushed and pulled at all ends around this time of year. The boss has deadlines, we have parties every night, and sleep isn't a priority. Unfortunately, our immune systems need sleep (about seven hours) in order to function optimally. So do your best at least a few nights a week to get what your body needs.

5. Stressing over family

Family get-togethers produce stress for everyone. The excess stress that's generated can actually cause us to get sick. Since we can't avoid our families over the holidays, work on stress reduction and limit visits to a few days. While you're visiting or hosting families, allow time each day for a long walk outside by yourself to lower your stress levels. It really works!

6. Not exercising enough

As the end of the year approaches and each day is filled with events and work and family, there's no time to exercise. So what do we do? First of all, be kind to yourself and change your expectations. Go down to once or twice a week if needed, but DON'T give it up! Use a long walk or a 15-minute stretch if that's all you have, but do something. Your body will thank you by raising your endorphin levels and helping get you through this crazy time.

7. Shopping until you drop

Although retail therapy is good for all of us, too much of it isn't healthy for two reasons. The first is the physical exhaustion and stress that come with running all over to find the perfect gift. The second reason is the financial drain that appears in January when the bills arrive. So, shop online in moderation, remember the bills are coming!

8. Changing medications

A lot of people go to see their doctor at the end of the year due to health insurance guidelines, and doctors sometimes change medications at the visit. Consider suggesting to your doctor that your medication stay the same until after the craziness of the holiday season, so that you can avoid any new side effects while traveling away from home.

9. Heavy lifting

As we travel and shop and decorate for the holidays, we wonder why our lower backs, knees, and shoulders are sore. Heavy lifting can produce joint pain that's annoying at best and damaging at worst. What to do? Ask for some help! Don't continuously lift heavy objects alone, and if your body signals you with some discomfort, stop doing what you're doing and ice the area that's bothering you.

10. Not addressing depression

Mental depression can make us physically sick. In order to avoid feelings of sadness and hopelessness, stay busy without being dizzy, and make sure to ask for help from friends, family, or a professional if you are feeling blue, having difficulty eating or sleeping, or are feeling overwhelmed.

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