The sneaky way holiday stress makes you sick (and how to stay healthy)

November 18, 2014 2:57 PM

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The sneaky way holiday stress makes you sick (and how to stay healthy)

’Tis the season for shopping, decorating and, let’s face it, catching nasty bugs. When your stress is already at its peak— what with your house full of guests and party season underway— your immune system certainly picks a great time to run amok! You may credit Murphy’s law when you develop the sniffles and a sore throat just as your mother-in-law arrives for her holiday visit, but the very stress associated with hosting her— or organizing that holiday bash, traveling cross-country, or finding the perfect gifts for your hubby and kids— is actually what increases your chances of getting sick. And just why is that? Simply put, the added stress of the holidays elevates your cortisol levels. And high cortisol translates to low immunity.

Here’s a window into how stress can dampen your immune response: It’s the Friday before holiday vacation, and you’re managing crazy work deadlines with the intention to bolt at 5 p.m. sharp to get a head-start on turkey basting. Your cortisol levels rise to cope with the stress, temporarily suppress...

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