With a growing chill in the morning air and children heading back to school, we know the cold & flu season is upon us. If you’re serious about staying healthy this fall and winter, then heed these common sense reminders and pearls of traditional wisdom:
1. Wash Hands. As every health practitioner knows, this is the #1 way to avoid passing around disease-causing germs. Use soap, and do it regularly, especially if you are around children or other family members who have already caught a cold.
2. Keep covered from the wind. An old Chinese adage states that, “Wind is the cause of 100 diseases.” Exposure to wind and cold challenges the body to defend itself against airborne diseases, such as viruses. Be sure to keep the body warm and the head and neck covered with adequate clothing while enjoying time outdoors.
3. Get enough sleep. Obvious, right? But it can be a challenge for many reasons. Make it a priority to get around 8 hours of good quality sleep to keep your immune system at its best.
4. Exercise. The health benefits are innumerable. Plan to do a small amount (20-45 minutes) daily, rather than 1-2 hours a couple times a week. Do things that are fun and enjoyable – biking, cross-country skiing? Do things that are doable – walking, swimming, running? Do things that are relaxing – yoga, hiking? Mix it up, try new things, go easy. But as Nike says, JUST DO IT.
5. Eat mostly protein, fruits and vegetables. Eat warm, cooked foods. Drink tea. If you want to focus on using food to strengthen immunity, try making this homemade broth and use it in soups and stews. It’s a year-round staple at our house!
6. Ensure you have sufficient levels of Vitamin D. The best tactic is to get enough of sun exposure with UVB rays, which happens during the midday. If this can’t happen, which is the case during wintertime in the North, then supplement with Vitamin D3. Next time you have a check-up with your doctor, have your Vitamin D levels checked, in case you’re in need of higher levels of supplementation.
7. De-Stress yourself. Let’s face it, stress happens. You can do all of these things to stay healthy, but when you get stressed, it suppresses your immunity and leaves you vulnerable. Exercise is a fabulous stress-reliever. So is laughter, having fun, relaxing, and getting away from the computer, and work and family stressors. Pay attention to your stress level, then plan ways to get some relief, such as a ½ hour bathtub escape or a ½ day retreat.
8. If you know you’re vulnerable due to stress, snotty kid exposure, etc. then it’s a good idea to take a natural immune booster, such as Echinacea tincture, Vitamin C (1,000-2,000 mg/day), suck on zinc lozenges, or take your favorite cold prevention remedy.
Getting sick doesn’t have to be inevitable, but it does require a strong immune system. A strong immune system requires good health practices. It’s that simple. If you need help making it all happen, then plan ahead. Meal plan on Sundays so you know you’ll eat well for the week. Schedule your time for exercise and de-stressing activities, or they won’t happen. Decide what time you need to go to bed for a good night sleep, and get there ahead of time with a good book. Put soap on the sink basins, hats and scarves by the front door, and stock up on Vitamin C so it’s there when you need it. Happy autumnal equinox everybody. Do you have other favorite ways of staying healthy throughout the cold and flu season? Let us know what works for you and how you liked this post.