There’s something about beaches flooded with sunshine, and snowy mountain roads leading to off-the-grid spots that do a body right. Ideally, vacations leave us rested, relaxed, and invigorated. But the well-traveled know that sometimes, they can do just the opposite, leaving us sick, sniffling, and sneezing.
Here’s how to prevent it:
Exercise: Work out after work or a stressful day—it may facilitate the unwinding process. This is key in preparing your body for the much bigger unwind: your vacation.
Meditate: Changing how you react to stress – doing things more consciously and mindfully, less reactively, more calmly and efficiently, and less judgmentally – can impact health. Keep in mind that you can meditate anywhere – even on a plane.
Sleep in: Booking a sleep-friendly hotel is the first step in fending off illness during a vacation. Lack of sleep is linked to higher levels of bodily inflammation and lower levels of immune function. Without proper rest, the ability of natural killer cells to kill those infected by a virus weakens, as does our immune cells’ ability to protect us from getting sick.
Celebrate in moderation: Getaways should be fun but excess alcohol, caffeine, and an unhealthy diet can hinder immune health, making it more likely that you fall ill. Consider being sensible for the day and swapping poolside cocktails for a trip to the juice bar.
Build in buffer days: If you’re able, ease into and out of vacation by taking a day onto the beginning and end of your trip before and after you travel. It might mean using an extra vacation day or two, but this will help you wind down and wind back up more gradually.