It’s so easy to neglect our own health and focus on family, work and our social obligations. If you’re like me then you book 32 hours into 24!
My mantra used to be “strong like bull.” Then about five years ago my son brought home this lovely virus which knocked me on my butt! It settled in my lungs, zapped my energy and had me feeling like I was going to cough up a lung with each bark. Every muscle I had ached from coughing so much and I was weak and miserable. These were the nice symptoms. I’m a nightmare when I’m sick. It’s not because I get whiny and want attention but because I get angry! I have so much to do and anything that slows me down or prevents me from completing my tasks makes me livid!
That first bout took three weeks to get over but the cough persisted for another two. For the next two years my son would get that darn thing at least twice and my immune system would be doing double duty to fight it off, but in the end I’d succumbed to it too. Thank goodness only once per year for me. Believe me once is still way too much!!
This is the final year my son will be a teenager and I want a solid gold 24 kt badge that says, “I SURVIVED!” After he turned thirteen I was never been able to get him to take any home remedies or eat properly so he is always getting over something. He’s young and his immune system hasn’t been beaten up as much as his dad’s and mine so he gets over those viruses and colds a lot faster than we do. When he started living on his own and he caught that dreaded virus his dad and I managed to escape. It was wonderful! Then just a couple of months ago he temporarily moved back in and guess what? You got it! The dreaded virus knocked all three of us on our butts. I held out the longest but I could feel it coming on the day before Thanksgiving and I didn’t get to do all the baking I wanted because I had no energy. The day after Thanksgiving –BOOM! On my butt and accomplishing nothing!
So what does an angry barking woman do? She Googles everything about natural remedies for colds and viruses. I was already using essential oils in diffusers and they were wonderful but not enough. If you want to use essential oils you need to be very careful and make sure that they are medicinal grade and can be taken internally. A friend of mine swears by bone broth because her and her son have Celiac and they need to double support their immune system. I had started that a few months earlier. I was drinking green tea and echinacea tea by the gallons. However, this virus is a nasty bugger and I still needed to do more. Here are five ways I’m taking care of myself and my family this winter and they just might help you too:
1. Be Proactive and Work from The Inside Out
Hypocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Before flu season hits make sure you’re doing whatever you can to support and boost your immune system. Include more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet and remember to include those super foods – citrus fruits, blue berries, kale, broccoli, spinach, sweet potato, carrots and squash. You can cook them, juice them or blend them into a super smoothie. I do all three and add fresh ginger. Drink bone broth and cook with it. It has lots of nutritional benefits to boost your immune system. Homemade is better but in a pinch you can probably buy some from your local health food store. If you want to learn how to make bone broth Nourished Kitchen has an easy method and it produces a nice flavorful vitamin packed broth. She explains the difference between broth, stock and bone broth and the instructions to make your own could not be easier. I make a lot of my soups and stews with my homemade bone broth and I boil my potatoes in it then pour off the broth and add it to the gravy mixture. It gives a nice depth to your potatoes and adds a delicious layer of flavor to your gravy.
2. Get More Rest
This is my Achilles heel! I’m always an early riser and if I’m busy I get to bed later and later. Keeping yourself healthy means getting enough sleep and I’m now forcing myself to go to bed before midnight. Sleep is the time your body repairs itself and I’ve known this a long time but I still need to constantly remind myself because there’s always so much to do. Not enough sleep makes you more susceptible to catching those nasty bugs and can also cause weight gain. We certainly don’t want that.
During the winter months the days are darker and colder and your sleep can really suffer. If you’re sleep-deprived then you’re three times more likely to catch a cold than people who sleep eight hours or more a night. There have been a number of studies on this. Try going to bed earlier. Stick to a sleep schedule and if you’ve been short-changing yourself on sleep then start going to bed a half hour earlier until you can bring your sleep cycle back in-line. I’ll be the first one to admit that this is sometimes easier said than done, but I’m trying.
Manage your stress—another easier said than done. Chronic stress puts your health at risk and these days who isn’t under constant stress? I’ve learned the hard way, and I’m still working on it, that you need to pencil in your planner the time you need to exercise and treat it as if it was a meeting with an important client. Otherwise when you least expect it your body will drop you on your butt and there goes your productivity! Get some exercise. Exercise pumps out those mood boosting endorphines and will help reduce your stress and anxiety.
Indulging in all those yummy comfort foods and holiday sweets can really take it’s toll on your immune system. Indigestion and heartburn from too much sugar and fried foods can interfere with you getting a restful sleep. Start your day with a super green juice full of vitamins and antioxidants or a superfood smoothie to boost your immune system. Try not eating after 6 pm and give your stomach a rest before you turn in for the night.
3. Flu or Cold?
If it’s a cold you might feel achy with sniffles, have a scratchy throat, be lethargic and maybe a have a headache but it only lasts a few days. The flu can knock you on your butt making you feel quite ill from a few days to a few weeks . The symptoms of flu are much more severe with body aches, chills and a fever. If you have the flu you’re usually achy and exhausted at the onset. The flu can also result in some serious health problems such as pneumonia. Your doctor can tell you for sure which one you have but in both cases you need to keep hydrated. Drinking lots of water will help flush out your system and help you to heal.
4. Be Kind to Yourself to Help Ease the Symptoms
I’m all for instant gratification. When I want something I want it now, but unfortunately there’s no quick fix for a cold or the flu. Sometimes you just have to ride it out and let your body do it’s job while you provide it as much additional help as you can.
These days it’s probably healthier if you try to fight off the virus with natural remedies because antibiotics have been over-prescribed for years now and they’re simply not as effective. I had forgotten about Collodial Silver and how it works to help the immune system. I quickly purchased a bottle and took as directed. This time the dastardly virus had met it’s match. The Collodial Silver was the icing on the cake and provided the extra immune system boost I needed. I wish I had taken it at the first sign of the virus and maybe I wouldn’t have had any down time. Unfortunately I took it the day the virus knocked me on my butt. I wasn’t as sick as my hubby nor did I have it as long as he did, but the first few days I seemed to run through all the symptoms at once. It wasn’t a pleasant experience first using the Collodial Silver, but it was effective.
A humidifier or vaporizer can add much needed moisture into the air to help with congestion. We have a small humidifer and an aromatherapy cold air humidifer and essential oil diffuser. Taking a hot shower before bed also really helps us with the congestion and if you put a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil on the floor in your shower, out of the path of the water, then you can breathe in the benefits.
The sinus congestion I had was giving me a headache and I needed to be thinking clearly so I tried using a Neti pot. It helped relieve most of the pressure. Don’t be put off by the term “nasal irrigation.” Flushing mucus from your nasal passages really does reduce the symptoms and it’s not as disgusting as it sounds. You just said” EW!”didn’t you? It’s just a simple saline distilled water solution that flows through your nasal passages while your head is over the sink.
You need to be really hydrated when you have a cold or the flu. Try drinking hot lemonade for an added boost of Vitamin C and to help with a sore throat.
You know all those “old wives” tales you heard about chicken soup easing the symptoms of a cold or flu? Well, if it’s homemade with bone broth instead of just chicken stock it works even better to ease the symptoms and can help you fight off the cold symptoms before they escalate. According to WebMD chicken soup can clear nasal congestion too. There really is a science behind chicken stock being good for colds. It inhibits” neutrophil migration.” In layman’s terms it actually hinders the movement of white blood cells, helping your body to fight off the effects of colds, flus and upper respiratory infections. Ah the wonders of homemade chicken soup.
Let’s not forget the psychological benefits of being dressed in soft comfy pj’s, wrapped up in soft warm blankies watching your favorite movies and slurping homemade chicken soup out of a large mug. The best part is you don’t have to have a cold or flu to do this.
Just like your grandma said—rest, drink plenty of liquids and eat lightly for a few days. Give your body time to heal itself. If you get an ear infection or sinusitus or you suspect bronchitus then it’s time to go to your doctor.
5. Stop Sickness at the Source
Wash your hands! The biggest source of germs is our hands. That’s why frequent hand washing is so effective at getting rid of illness causing germs and preventing the spread of some diseases. The friction of rubbing your hands together with soap and water gets rid of the germs you’ve picked up. Did you know there’s a proper way to wash your hands and that you need to wash your wrists also? Stop touching your eyes, nose and mouth because these are the easy entry way for germs. I know it’s hard but it’s important to be aware that you’re doing this and stop if you don’t want to catch those vile viruses.
Wipe off door knobs! This one I really need to remind myself to do more often when someone’s ill. And the most important one—the toilet flush knob!
Wipe off your cell phone and landline phone! In the journal “Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials” there was an article detailing a 2009 study involving the phones of 200 hospital staff. They found that 94.5 percent of the phones were contaminated with bacteria and many of these bacteria strains were resistant to multiple antibiotics. The researchers were able to show that about 31 percent of germs were transferred from the staff members hands to their phones, and vice versa. I’m a bit of a germaphobe on this one and if I share my cell it gets handed back to me in a Clorox wipe.
Take care of yourself and learn how to better address your family’s sick-time symptoms. Do what you need to boost you and your family’s immune systems. We take extra Vitamin C and started adding Zinc supplements during the cold and flu season. Make sure that you’re managing your stress levels, get enough sleep and take that much needed “me” time. All these will help ensure you and your loved ones have a healthy winter.