Well it’s that time of the year again! Run for cover, cold and flu viruses are running amok! Time to hibernate with your Lysol wipes and vitamin C and reemerge in a few months. Now, if like me, you have jobs to go to and lives to live and hiding under a rock isn’t an option, I thought I’d share a few things I like to do to ensure I stay as healthy as possible.
- Hand washing: It sounds basic but how many of us actually diligently wash our hands before touching our face? My grandpa was a real stickler for hand washing and I used to laugh at his seemingly silly, compulsive habit. But guess what! He rarely, rarely got so much as a cold! Nowadays, I always at least carry a travel size hand sanitizer in my purse.
- Get more sleep: Sleep is vital to making sure our immune system is working at maximum capacity; so as much as possible, don’t skimp here and get those 7 to 8 hours in.
- Neti pot and sinus washes: It may look silly to Neti pot, but it’s a great defense system against allergens and germs alike as often as not we catch a virus through our nasal passages. It is especially helpful in the dry winter months when our mucus membranes in our sinuses tend to dry out. I try to Neti pot at least every other day, but ideally once a day. A friend (who also just started her own blog katierayfield.com) recently turned me onto Xclear which contains xylitol as an extra help to flushing those bacteria versus just standard sea salt.
- Steam: Speaking of dried out sinuses, if you start to feel yourself getting a little congested (or even just preventatively), inhaling steam (my mom’s method of a pot of hot water and towel over your head or, if you like gadgets, I absolutely love my Pura Mist) is a great remedy. I also like to add a little sea salt and essential oils like eucalyptus to further augment the decongesting effects. Hot steamy showers can work wonders too.
- More fruits and veggies and less sugary processed foods: Another obvious (but difficult) one that we could all use reminders on …. Too much sugar depresses your immune system cells in charge of fighting off bacteria. Fruits and veggies and whole foods give those same cells a boost and help keep them at optimal levels much like that good night’s sleep does. Go for as many colors of the rainbow as you can; there’s no such thing as too many fruits and veggies!
- Select supplements to help bridge the gap: In an ideal world we wouldn’t need supplements as we’d be eating perfectly every day. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy the occasional piece of cake and don’t always get as many fruits and veggies in as I should, so I like to take select high quality supplements. For me, this includes a high quality probiotic, vitamin D (since I’m definitely not getting as much time outside in the winter), plant based omega supplement and whole food based supplements in capsule form with over 30 different types of powdered fruits and veggies packed in.
- Ginger tea: Ginger is a great immune boost and especially in those cold months I love to brew up a big pot of ginger tea to sip on throughout the day. I’ll cut up a nice sized piece of ginger root (the more you use the spicier it’ll be) and put it in a pot of boiling water along with some cinnamon sticks and black peppercorns and let it simmer for about an hour on low heat (again, the longer you brew it, the stronger your tea will be … so just experiment with what works for your taste buds!) Add some honey and lemon once it’s done or enjoy as is J Pro tip: ginger tea is fabulous once you are already sick too and feels great on a sore throat – the spicier the better here!
- Meditation: Just like too much sugar and lack of sleep, stress wreaks havoc on our immune system! Studies show meditation (even just taking a time-out to do a few minutes of deep breathing) can help us lower and manage our stress levels. Meditation doesn’t have to be a formal hour long affair. Even just 3 minutes can help. Experiment with easy guided meditations on free apps like Buddify, Calm or Insight Timer – your immune system will thank you!
- Exercise: Regular exercise can also help build up our immune system over time, but it does come with a catch 22. If you are under the weather, then pushing yourself through a hard work out will definitely do more harm than good! Although I will say sometimes a little hot yoga has been just what I needed to clear out my sinuses on the tail end of a cold! Just listen to your body. This may sound like a no-brainer, but is sometimes easier said than done.
Now with all that said, if you succumb to those germs going around, relax, don’t stress and continue taking care of your body so it can get better faster. Stressing about being sick and when you’ll get better as has been my tendency will only further weaken your immune system and prolong your recovery.
What are some of your must-haves for staying healthy? Share in the comments below 🙂