How to avoid the cold and flu this holiday season and beyond

Tips for helping you and your family stay well this holiday season and beyond.

Trinette Reed | Stocksy United

High up on all of our Christmas wish lists this year—and every year, I’m sure—is avoiding the cold and flu. We’d like to be sniffle- and fever-free during the holidays, and, if we’re really lucky, maybe even through the wintertime in general. As a mom of four, I’d do anything to improve my chances of staying well through all the Christmas revelry and to-dos. But then when one of my babies gets sick, I’m always begging God to just give the illness to me instead, and spare them the pain. What we moms won’t do for our kids, right?

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Personally, I learned flu-prevention the hard way. My family spent six months last year passing one sickness after another back and forth and it was rather unpleasant! (Getting sick actually helps build up your immunity in the long run, of course, but there are always new and different strains of bugs going around that make you susceptible again.) So I, for one, would rather skip flu season entirely this year.

Of course, it’s difficult to avoid sickness completely (unless you live on a desert island, keep yourself quarantined or are somehow superhuman), but it is possible to avoid catching a full-blown virus. All you need to do is pay a little extra attention to the many ways in which you can boost your immune system. Here are some of my tried and true tips for helping you and your family stay well this holiday season and beyond:

Lots of rest

Make an extra effort this December to get yourself in bed earlier and keep to a routine. We’re so diligent about our kids’ routines, but not our own. Ideally, you should sleep during the same hours every night. So if you already know your body requires eight hours of sleep be sure your routine matches that. That means wind down time should probably be around 9pm, bed around 10 p.m., and then up and at it at 6 a.m.

Water & hot tea

Everyone claims they drink enough water, but most people still struggle to get to their threshold. In general, 80 oz is what I recommend for an active person. Water is essential to regulate the body’s temperature, as well as circulating nutrients and flushing out waste. I can’t stress enough the importance of good ol’ H20 when trying to fight off a virus! Add in some warm tea to your regimen this season, too—green tea, chamomile, and other herbal teas will add extra antioxidants to keep that immune system robust.

Nutrient-dense food

Start from nature—the more “whole” your food is, the more benefits you’ll receive from it. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, nuts, and healthy oils are foods that will keep your immune system strong, as well as your muscular system. Keep processed foods to a minimum especially during cold and flu season. If you think of each time you eat as either working for you or against you, it will be easier to resist the many temptations that come at this time of year.

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I know this is a big one to accomplish at this time of year when every extra hour or minute is devoted to planning the best Christmas ever, but give yourself the gift of exercise—and don’t wait for a New Year’s resolution to begin! There are 20–30 minute workouts all over the Internet that will get your blood flowing, your heart pumping, lower your anxiety, decrease your stress hormones, and keep you rocking that new outfit for your fun parties! I recommend at least four times a week for at least 20 minutes. The more time you have, the better.


While it’s ideal to receive your nutrition from food, it’s harder to get everything you need during the winter time. I take a probiotic, B-complex, vitamin C, vitamin D, and some days an Omega 3. It’s amazing how terrible a vitamin deficiency can make you feel. Schedule an appointment with a holistic care doctor in your area to discuss what might be the best for you. They can determine what you need by your symptoms and sometimes even by blood work.

Positive thinking

There is no greater medicine, in my humble opinion, than the power of positive thinking. You will change your life by changing your thoughts. If you feel something coming on, your body will go into fight or flight mode, but you can still control your mind. You can tell yourself it will be fine and you will fight it.

If these preventative actions don’t work (there’s no 100 percent guarantee that they will) and you find yourself sniffling under a blanket anyway, be sure to stay down and rest, gargle warm sea salt water several times a day, and use a saline wash for your sinuses. But, either way, here’s my Christmas wish for you: Stay well!

Got a question for Cara related to nutrition, wellness, or staying healthy? Please leave it in the comments below and she may consider addressing it in a future installment of Harmonious Health.

Cara Busson-Clark
Cara Busson-Clark
Cara Busson-Clark is a Certified Sports and Clinical Nutritionist and runs Cara Clark Nutrition. Her "non-dieting" approach to health and wellness, attracts a wide range of clients, including Hollywood celebrities. In addition to her passion for helping others live their best lives, her world revolves around her faith and family. She is mother to four daughters, ages one to six and lives in southern California.

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