5 Ways to Stay Healthy this Winter
If you're anything like me, this time of year you're constantly on guard, just waiting for the next virus to hit and run rampant through your household. After all it's cold & flu season, and it certainly doesn't help that school's in session and exposing our children daily to germs in confined spaces (and our children all share SO nicely because, well, didn't we drill it into their heads that they should be nice and share?). But this doesn't mean we have to be defeated right out of the gate! Chin up! There are several things you can start doing right away to better prepare your body to fight off these impending viruses - and they're a lot easier than you think!
1. Wash Your Hands
I know what you're thinking. You're not telling me anything new here! And you're right. This happens to be a tried and true defense mechanism that everyone knows and everyone preaches about all of the time! And I'm sure I don't have to tell you that washing hands under just water alone isn't going to do the job, right? Gosh, I hope so! But, it's important to be reminded that, when washing hands, make sure to use an antimicrobial soap and lather for about 20 seconds. Even drying with a paper towel, as opposed to a hand dryer, leaves fewer bacteria on the hands. But this is difficult for children to stick to as they have places to go, people to see! Things get busy and the pace is always set to super lightning speed. That's just the world we live in today. So, germs are going to get missed. My backup? I like to keep hand sanitizer readily available and easily accessible. I even go as far as to make sure I get some on my children's hands as soon as I pick them up from school. Yup! I don't waste any time, and I believe that diligence helps. But hand washing, as you know, is clearly only a piece of the puzzle.
2. Eat Healthy
Yeah, yeah, easier said than done sometimes. Believe me I know! You're a busy person with your life going in a million directions at the same time. I'm right there with you. But, the best solution to that is to have a plan. Think about your week before it starts. How can you ensure you/your family will eat healthy throughout the week once Manic Monday rolls around and you're holding on for dear life as the week whizzes by? Plan for it. Yes, it will take some time out of your weekend, but it will save you some time during the week and save you the frustration of having to think up something last minute that falls short of your ideal. And do yourself a huge favor by making enough of that meal so that you can save some for leftovers! Leftovers can go in the fridge for a quick meal later on in the week, or they can be frozen for an easy meal down the road when you would love to do anything BUT cook! Make things easier for yourself, life is hard enough as it is!
3. Get Enough Sleep
This is definitely one of my favorites! Did you know that lack of sleep can impair your immune system, thereby decreasing your body's ability to fight colds or bacterial infections? There is definitely more science behind this, but that's the fact, plain and simple. Adequate sleep ensures the immune system stays strong to protect you during cold and flu season. So, get in the habit of shutting down mentally about an hour before bed (no more work, no more house chores, etc.) and try incorporating a bedtime meditation routine (which I swear by, and there are a ton of guided meditations out there), which will make it easier for your body to relax and mind to calm when it is bedtime, ensuring that you fall asleep quicker, stay asleep longer, and sleep more soundly.
4. Boost Your Immune System
Now, each body is different and you know what works for you, or, if you don't, try a few things out to see if you can find your happy place. In my opinion, a good place to start is with probiotics. The gut is wired to your immune system, so a healthy gut works towards maintaining good health. Also worth mentioning is that if your gut is functioning at its best, it helps to improve digestion and aid in absorption of vitamins/minerals. But, in addition to a probiotic, you might also want to think about arming yourself with things like a multivitamin, Vitamin C, Echinacea, Elderberry Suryp, Garlic, Zinc, Essential Oils, or other means of cold prevention tools you, or someone you know, swears by. And, at the end of the day, if you feel you're still lacking somewhere, consult with your doctor and they will definitely help point you in the right direction.
5. Practice Yoga
Take my word for it here, those who practice yoga tend to have fewer, and shorter, colds should they come down with one, due to yoga's ability to regulate the immune system and help keep it strong. One of the main reasons is due to fighting stress, which can weaken an immune system. Yoga reduces stress, not only through the physical nature of the various poses, but from the art of calming the body and mind. Poses especially calming to the body are forward bends and restorative poses, while other poses can be utilized to stimulate/activate certain areas of the body (for example, cobra pose stimulates the thymus gland, an important organ to the immune system). If you haven't yet tried yoga, I encourage you to open your mind to the possibility and either consult with a registered yoga teacher in your area, or try out a short beginners video in the comfort of your own home. I promise you, your mind and body will thank you!
Stay healthy my friends!