Contrary to popular belief, winter isn’t the only season responsible for a spike in sick days and sniffles. Here’s why it feels like your colleagues, family members and friends are dropping like flies at the moment.
If you’ve been struggling to pull yourself out of bed this week, you’re not alone. While we’re well and truly in the swing of the new year, many of us are still grappling with the festive season that was.
The past two months of after-work drinks, family get-togethers, indulgent feasts and late nights, though merry at the time, have caught up with us as we settle into our regular routines.
While some people have enlisted an extra coffee to get them through the day, the post-holiday fatigue for many others has been amplified to the max by various sicknesses. Here’s why your body is feeling the strain right now.
Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.
#1. ‘Tis the season of sun, sand and sickness
As our December tan lines turn into January peeling, the last remnants of the glorious festive season are nearly behind us.
Here in Australia, we’re so lucky to experience a quintessential summer without fail every year. Snowed in for the winter, it’s impossible for people in the Northern Hemisphere not to envy our endless coastline of pristine beaches and balmy January evenings.
But our sunny mornings and everlasting beach days come with their own risks, many of which have significantly contributed to our post-holiday fatigue and illness. Prolonged exposure outdoors, particularly to the Aussie sun, is responsible for a range of ongoing ailments, such as severe sunburn and heatstroke.
In addition, December and January are known for having a substantial peak in grass pollen, causing the hay fever-prone among us to suffer from itchy eyes and incessant sneezing.
#2. Long-overdue social hangovers
Perhaps the most common cause of the January illness peak is the long-awaited comedown from another jam-packed festive season. The month of December is widely renowned for its parties, cocktails and lavish culinary spreads– the perfect recipe to leave a person feeling under the weather.
But the sustained hangovers we all seem to be soldiering on through are the product of more than just (many) late-night drinking sessions. The long-term effects of incessant socialising, coupled with an irregular sleep schedule can quickly leave most of us feeling run down and exhausted.
According to the government platform News in Health, sleep is as significant for our mental and physical health as our exercise and nutritional habits. As Dr. Kenneth Wright, Jr., a sleep researcher at the University of Colorado shares, a lack of quality sleep will undoubtedly fast-track the presence of illness.
“There are certain repair processes that occur in the body mostly, or most effectively, during sleep,” he says. “If you don’t get enough sleep, those processes are going to be disturbed.”
#3. Catching the travel bug– literally
Naturally, many people use the festive season’s public holidays and mandated office shutdowns to tick off destinations on their bucket lists.
And though two weeks in the Bahamas is sure to bring memories to last a lifetime, breathing the recycled air of 200 fellow passengers for 20 hours is hardly conducive to the preventative health measures that have been drilled into us since the dawn of the pandemic.
The revolving crowds at busy airport terminals and tourist destinations are the ideal breeding ground for contagious viruses, with the latest strain of COVID-19 (J1) being no exception. Plus, having a draining case of jetlag never helps, often taking days to recalibrate your body clock to your local timezone.
What to do if you’re feeling under the weather.
No one wants to start off the year by making a dent in their allotted sick days, so if you’re feeling run down this week, here are some handy tips.
While getting back to your regular routine is no doubt a goal early on in January, don’t over-exert yourself for the sake of it. Your 6 AM pilates classes and after-work weights sessions aren’t going anywhere, so there’s no need to implement your full-on New Year’s workout resolutions before you’re physically ready.
If you’ve succumbed to the sniffles and are searching for a quick fix, we can’t stress the importance of regular hydration and nourishing food. For the perfect at-home cure, try this easy-to-make comforting chicken noodle soup recipe.