Reunion barbeques. Holiday dinners. There’s a multitude of reasons to gather with your family members. But getting together with your kin isn’t always the healthiest activity. In fact, it’s possible for even the most fun family get-together to leave you sick in bed. How could this be? We take a look at 15 surprising ways your family is making you sick.
They can make you dehydrated
Drinking water | seb_ra/iStock/Getty Images
When we’re with close family members, particularly ones we don’t see very often, it becomes more tempting to break out the cocktail cart. Big family gatherings can be even worse, as chit-chat and inadvertent guzzling of alcohol causes dehydration. Make sure to always have water on hand — yes, even when there are bottomless mimosas at the family brunch.
They ruin your sleep pattern
Sleeping man | YakobchukOlena/Getty Images
When family members visit — of when you visit them — you tend to get wrapped up in their everyday routines. (More on that a little later.) And if you’re hosting, that means you’re awake at different hours of the day trying to cater to their every whim. This means your sleep cycle gets interrupted, which can lead to midday drowsy spells and mood swings and can make you more susceptible to getting sick.
They encourage you to eat dessert
Let’s face it — big family gatherings tend to occur around the holidays when carbs and fatty foods reign supreme. And no matter how healthy you eat on a regular basis, sitting down to a big family meal encourages you to eat unhealthily. While those fattening and sugar-y meals may taste delicious, they are made up of components that hinder your immune system and leave you open to infections and sickness.
They tend to make you stay indoors
Den with white couches | HGTV
Unless your family big on group hikes, chances are your gatherings take place indoors. While sometimes the weather drives you inside, getting out of the house can help your health. All that time sitting inside with your family is keeping you from getting outside and soaking up vitamin D, which can lead to muscle pain and achy joints.
They make you go shopping … a lot
Woman paying for groceries | iStock.com/bowdenimages
Whether it’s to the mall or the supermarket, family functions call for extra errands to get everything together. (And if you if it’s a family member’s birthday or the holidays, you’re likely doing extra shopping for gifts.) Stores are also major germ factories, and if you’re touching items that many other people have touched, you’re far more likely to get sick.
They encourage you to be extra hands-on
Washing hands | Elenathewise/iStock/Getty Images
Having family members around means more hugs, smooches, cleaning each other’s place settings, you name it. Then, most of us go from touching all those other things to then touching our faces, which greatly increases your risk of getting the flu among other life-halting maladies.
They pressure you to be social
Gathering family members | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images
Believe it or not, the pressure put on you to socialize with family members can hurt your health even if you’re a naturally social person. Being forced into social situations can elevate levels of anxiety and leave you drained. That increased level of anxiety may result in feeling sick to your stomach, an increase in blood pressure, or trouble breathing.
They make you question yourself
Woman suffering from a headache | AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images
Not all family gatherings are happy affairs. Sometimes, we’re forced to spend time with individuals we share a bloodline with, but don’t necessarily share points of view with. If you have intensely opinionated relatives, they can drive you to question your own thoughts and beliefs. This pressure can also cause a rise in anxiety.
They bring out your bad habits
Smoking is a bad habit | Flickr/dasqfamily
The family dynamic makes it easier to fall back into collective bad habits — especially around the holidays. “You go back to your original dynamics,” Karen Sherman, Ph.D. tells WebMD. “They get recreated because the family is together, and it’s stressful. In times of stress, we revert to old patterns.” With your immune system compromised from the stress, these bad habits can greatly increase your chances of getting sick.
They can raise your adrenaline
Industrial thermometer | iStock.com/Milesray
As we previously discussed, not everyone gets along with their family members. And try as you may to keep things kosher, there are likely going to be dust-ups along the way. Arguing raises your adrenaline levels, which over time can hurt your blood pressure as well as contribute to weight gain, fatigue, and anxiety.
They alter your routine
Calendar | BrianAJackson/iStock/Getty Images
Even the most carefree people have a routine they like to follow. When you’re spending quality time with family, that routine tends to get interrupted. Having an altered routine may cause you to not sleep well — both interrupted sleep and bouts of sleeplessness can impact your overall health.
They can turn you into a couch potato
Man napping on a couch | Source: iStock
More times than not, gathering with the family means sitting around the dinner table, or sitting in the den, or sitting … you get the idea. Sitting for prolonged periods of time every now and then is fine. But if these long sitting sessions with your family are too frequent, they can start hurting your blood pressure and can contribute to high blood sugar and risk of obesity.
They make you feel lonely after they leave
A sad face in a cup of coffee | a_crotty/iStock/Getty Images
There can be so much joy in seeing your family. But when that period of time ends, we can be left feeling blue. Quartz explains this is a typical human reaction, where times of pleasure are often followed by a period of letdown. “From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes sense that we’d want to come down from happiness highs,” the article explains. While this low point is usually short-lived, prolonged sadness can lead to emotional issues.
They cause you to neglect yourself
Don’t forget to take care of you | iStock.com/tommaso79
If you’re hosting family for anything from one dinner to an extended stay, you may put their needs above yours in order to be the perfect host. But beware — taking care of your family members doesn’t mean you should stop taking care of yourself. If you’re feeling like you are overworked or may be coming down with something, it’s better to let your family know instead of trying to power through and risking the chances of getting even sicker.
They bring germs into your home
Woman blowing her nose | iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. When people come into your home, they don’t check their germs at the door. And your family members are no exception. Keeping a clean home and being aware of who sneezed on their hand and then touched a doorknob can go a long way to keep you from catching a cold — or any other illness your family members may pass along.
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