Holiday Stress Doesn't Help Immune System

Reporter: Shannon Samson

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

If you are traveling for the holidays, don't leave home without a plan to stay healthy during your trip.

This time of year, most of us lose sleep, fight colds and try to do more in less time. It can all take a toll on your health, and make your travels anything but pleasant.

Bonnie Caldwell is packing for her annual holiday trip. It's something she looks forward to all year, but she knows that all this running around, can run her down.

In fact, last year her doctor suggested that her travels may have made her sick. Bonnie says, "My blood pressure was high, and it was right around Christmas and the next time I went in, she said, 'mmmm, that's what I thought, I thought it was the hassle of Christmas.'"

That doesn't surprise Dr. Charles Manfresca of the Ohio State University Medical Center. He says this time of year, we sleep less, do more and by the time we go on a trip, we're often well on our way to getting sick.

Dr. Manfresca says, "You know, last minute details trying to get everything done, getting out of your routine, going to a strange place and maybe not having your own bed to sleep in, and that can affect how you take are of yourself."

So here are some tips for traveling smarter and staying healthy.

Wash your hands often. While traveling, you can come into contact with a lot of people and a lot of germs.

Winter air is very dry, so drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol.

Pack your medication in your carry-on bag, to keep with you so there is less chance of it getting lost.

And make time to get up and walk around. Even healthy people can get blood clots in their legs during long flights or car rides.

If you do climb behind the wheel, a word of warning about taking over the counter cold medicines. Dr. Manfresca says, "They do slow your reaction times, and in a season where we are already sleep deprived, be very cautious on driving."

One way to manage the stress of travel is to make a conscious effort to relax.

Bonnie now takes a cue from her cat, spending a few quiet moments before all the frenzy begins.

Also doctors say get plenty of sleep. When you are sleep deprived, your immune system is lower, and you are more likely to catch a cold or the flu.