Without a doubt, this is the craziest time of year. Work, holiday hours, party planning, attending parties, visiting family or friends, hosting family or friends, celebrating the season with various rituals, spending too much money, keeping a tight budget and not spending any money…it’s a fun, festive season! Ironically, it is usually the most stressful, too.

Every year, a couple of times a year, I commit to thoroughly immerse myself in my yoga and meditation practice, mainly because I know that every holiday season I will come down with a nasty cold/sinus infection. I try to get in the habit well before November so that by the time the holidays hit I will have a steady routine that will have strengthened my immune system, modified my response to stress and provide an outlet for pent-up emotions and energy. Lo and behold though, as I write this I am on the tail end of said cold. It came early this year, as my Thanksgiving proved to be more stressful than usual. As soon as I felt that trickle in my throat on Black Friday, my first thought was, “I haven’t been strengthening my mind and body like I should have been! If only…” If only I had taken the time each morning, or even every night before bed, to yoga or at least meditate. If only I had been taking longer walks with the dog. If only I utilized my gym membership more. If only I went to bed earlier.

This is a busy time of year, but then again, when if life NOT busy? So here, some reasons why you don’t have the time to not schedule time to be the everyday athlete you are:

*~*Working Americans need about an average of 7 days of sick leave a year

*~*Leisure physical activity—anything you do to get your body moving that you enjoy to do!—acts as a buffer of the physical and anxiety-produced effects of stress; aerobic fitness had no effect. So this means that even if you are not in perfect shape exercising still has positive benefits for your body and mind.

*~*A 3-month study of 1,000 18-85 year-olds who reported both their daily exercise and their cold/flu symptoms found that more exercise resulted in less sickness. People who exercised 5 days a week for a minimum of 20 minutes had 40% fewer symptoms of illness than did those who only exercised 1 day a week.

*~*People who sleep less than 7 hours a night are 2.9 times more likely to get sick than those who sleep at least 8 hours. (see above link)

*~*Meditation not only affects the parts of the brain that responds to stress and effects anxiety, but it also bolsters the immune system. After 8 weeks of practicing mindfulness meditation (where one practices observance and non-reaction to emotions, thoughts, sensations and ideas) participants were given a flu shot, as were a control group (non-meditators). Blood tests taken 1 and 2 months after the flu shot showed that the meditators had more antibodies in their system than did the non-meditators, hence they had more immune protection against the flu virus.

So, take 20 minutes a day to exercise your mind and body and enjoy the bustle of the year to come, or take 7 days off of work while you lose pay/productivity and feel miserable in the process?

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