The holiday season is all about spending time with family and friends. The last thing you want this time of year is a nasty cold or the flu. Luckily, there are several ways we can prevent these illnesses during the cold winter months. Follow these winter wellness tips to stay happy and healthy this holiday season.

Wash Your Hands

The best way to prevent disease is to wash your hands frequently. Be sure to use soap and clean running water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. In addition to washing your hands after using the bathroom, it’s also a good idea to wash up before eating or handling food and whenever you return home from a public place. In lieu of handwashing, I would also suggest carrying a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your purse. It will help you stave off germs in the times you can’t get to a sink right away.

Eat a Healthy Diet

It can be easy to get distracted from a healthy diet during this time of year, which is often packed with sweet treats and big meals. While indulging in a few treats every once in a while is fine, be sure to maintain a high intake of fruits and vegetables every day. The nutrients and vitamins in these wholesome foods will help lower your risk of disease drastically.

Stay Active

While it may be difficult to head outside and get your daily exercise during the cold winter months, you should stay as active as possible throughout the winter. Not only will regular exercise help you avoid weight gain, but it can also help relieve stress and boost your immune system.

Get Plenty of Sleep

During the busy holiday season, it can be easy to forgo sleep and tackle your long to-do list instead. But reducing the amount of sleep you’re getting during this stressful time can really do more harm than good.  As you sleep, your body repairs cells and tissues, as well as strengthens your immune system. Without it, you run a higher risk of contracting common infections. A full night’s sleep can also positively affect your mood and help you stay motivated throughout the day.

Stay Hydrated

While that pumpkin spice latte may be delicious, it’s not the best option for staying healthy this winter. Although we may not feel as thirsty during the cold winter months, that doesn’t mean our body doesn’t need water. Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking half your weight in ounces of water each day.

Stay Social

While the cold and flu may not be directly connected to your emotional state, your happiness is definitely connected to your overall wellness. Avoid the winter gloom by getting out of the house and enjoying time with friends and family on a regular basis. Maintaining an active social life will help you avoid the winter blues and keep you from becoming isolated during the cold season.