Got allergies? Get habits.

Spring is here, and so is allergy season.

Before you reach for those over-the-counter pills, though, consider taking the GIDIG approach:  Identify a goal, break it down into small daily actions, and turn those actions into habits. If your goal is to get through allergy season without getting a sinus infection or stumbling around in a medicine-head fog, read on.

Allergies are a type of inflammation, and inflammation is what happens when your body mobilizes to fight off environmental irritants.  A good way to manage allergy symptoms–and to keep them from developing into sinus infections and asthma attacks–is to focus on habits that reduce inflammation triggers. If you already have some of these habits, or are working to acquire them, the beautiful, pollen-filled spring season is a good time to double down on your efforts.

  • Limit sugar intake.
  • Get enough sleep
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Run an air purifier.
  • Banish pets from your bedroom.
  • Eat more veggies and fruit.
  • Drink green tea.
  • Switch to whole grains.
  • Eliminate food with trans fats (hydrogenated oils.)
  • Avoid foods that you find irritating or hard to digest. If dairy doesn’t agree with you, this is a good time to skip the ice cream and mocha lattes.

Since stress can also increase inflammation, here are a few habits that help with stress management:

  • Meditation.
  • Daily exercise.
  • Identity something every day for which you’re grateful.
  • List three things that went well today. Repeat daily.
  • Do something kind or generous.

Severe, chronic allergies can be life-threatening. If your doctor prescribes medication, listen to him or her. Check with your doctor before making lifestyle changes. Chances are, they’ll be glad (and probably shocked) that you’re interested in taking charge of your health and improving your habits.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the long list of habits and don’t know where to start, focus on these three: Set regular sleep hours, avoid sugar, and drink water.  Just those three changes can make a big impact.