My Favourite Ways to Boost My Immune System after a Holiday

A couple of weeks ago, I got back from a two week trip to the Maldives, it was an incredibly beautiful place and the snorkelling was just amazing. If, like me, you indulge a little more on holiday with food and alcohol, and your usual exercise routine goes out the window, when you get back home you can feel a little more sluggish and in need of a bit of a boost. Let alone if there’s a flight and jet lag to recover from too. Getting back into work and the usual schedule of your home life can leave you feeling a bit low and a bit poorly. Travel can be a stressor on the body and takes a bit of a toll on our mental and physical health, so today I’m sharing my favourite ways to help my body and give my immune system some, much needed, support after a holiday.

Ease yourself back in

It can be a shock to the body to go straight from holiday back to work; if possible, it’s ideal to give yourself time to get back into the swing of being at home before you go back to work (e.g. get home from holiday Friday and have the weekend at home before going back to work Monday). This gives you space to get unpacked, adapt to any time zone changes and get back into your home routine before you add in work on top of it all. I know this is not always possible and where that’s the case maybe some of the other tips could support you better.

Eat lots of veggies

Regardless of what you’ve been eating on your holiday, giving extra focus on filling your meals with vegetables will help your body to get more vitamins and minerals all of which will enable your body to function optimally and will give you a boost if some of those micronutrients have been a little lacking while you’ve been away.

Consume less inflammatory foods/drinks

Certain foods and drinks cause low levels of inflammation in the body particular ones to note: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, dairy and red meat. When you’re trying to help support your immune system and then consume these foods and drinks it’s a little like putting more petrol on the fire while you’re trying to put it out. This doesn’t have to be a long-term change, just for a week or so while you help your body get back to its normal rhythm.

Get those vitamins

In addition to getting your vitamin intake through your food you might find it helpful to supplement with a few key nutrients to give yourself that extra support. The following vitamins and minerals play a key role in support your immune system:

Vitamin C – ascorbic acid is a powerful antioxidant which helps enhance the immune function of cells and helps your body respond to pathogens in the body (check out this study for more info).

Zinc – This power mineral has antioxidant properties, helps with DNA and RNA synthesis and repair and regulates cell signalling (amongst other things). A zinc deficiency can cause a pro-inflammatory effect so supplementing can be a great way to immediately boost the immune system if you’re low (for more info read this study or this one).

Vitamin D – also known as calciferol, this vitamin modulates both the innate and adaptive immune responses of the body. Deficiency can increase autoimmunity as well as lead to greater susceptibility to infections. Our bodies mainly synthesise vitamin D from sunlight so depending on where you live and the time of year it is can determine how much sunlight you get and therefore vitamin D. It may be worth supplementing, for winter months or all year round, not just to boost your immune system but to ensure you don’t become deficient (further reading can be found here).

Make time for restorative exercise and activities

When we get back home after a holiday it can be easy to fall straight back into our usual routines and schedules but this can leave us feeling even more exhausted wondering how our holiday only ended a week ago when it feels like it was months ago. Replacing any intensive exercise for more restorative activities (think yoga, tai chi, stretching, walking) and more strenuous tasks for less exhausting ones (e.g replacing batch cooking and meal prepping for some simpler meals or ordering a meal service like mindful chef or all plants). Simply put: for a week or two, think or ways you can conserve your energy so your body can look after itself. How can you make some of those high energy tasks require a little less energy to help your body adjust?

Whilst not all these tips directly focus on boosting your immune system one of the best ways you can achieve that is to reduce the amount of stress you place on your mind and body allowing your very clever body to help itself recover and focus its energy on your immune function and adaptations post-holiday. So, anything you can do to reduce stress will help.

Do you have any tips or strategies for helping your body adjust to being back home after a holiday?

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