The winter season is real and in full force and along with it runny noses, body aches, lethargy, crabby moods, and sleepless nights. Get what I’m saying? Tis the season to be feverish.
Let’s change that.
One of the first and most valuable lessons I’ve learned as I started riding the “natural train” is that our bodies are amazing vehicles. We tend to underestimate them most of the time, so we end up poisoning them with medication to numb our pain.
You would be surprised at what your body is capable of handling. All your body needs is some TLC.
Below are some of my own practices that I follow to prepare for the cold and flu season. May you find something in here that works for you:
Sleep is so important. It allows your body to restore and repair itself before starting off a new day. The amount of sleep your body needs varies, and you will have to experiment to find out how many hours is best for your body.
Another factor to take account is the time of year. What season is it? In the winter, your body may require more sleep than in the summer, when the sun’s rays and warmth create an energizing effect on the body. In general, most people need 7-9 hours of sleep per night to feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to go.
When you mask symptoms of fatigue through stimulants like coffee, you create another health issue. It is all about creating a habit and good sleep hygiene. Try putting away all electronics (yes, including your phone) an hour before bedtime, and involve your children in this practice. Replace that habit with a nice cup of chamomile tea and a good book or a round of board games with the kids to relax from your day. I bet you will be off to la-la land before you know it.
What you eat sets the foundation for creating a healthy immune system. Eliminate foods that tax your immune system, such as sugar, processed food, red meats, and refined carbohydrates. If you want to eat dairy and/or animal products, go organic. Eat whole foods, lots of fruits, and vegetables. One of the easiest ways of getting in a boost of nutritional medicine is through juicing. I can’t praise juicing enough! This practice has been a game changer for my family. Juicing cleanses your system, decreases inflammation in the body, and helps strengthen your immune system.
A wealth of resources are available if you want to start juicing. I highly recommend starting with Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet to anyone who is interested in diving into this topic deeper.
Regular exercise, especially during the winter months, will work wonders for your body. A moderate workout of 20 to 30 minutes gets your blood flowing, strengthens your immune system, and lifts your mood. My children are involved in soccer, football training camps, and yoga during the winter months to keep them going. Aside from the physical benefits, they end each session in a much happier mood. Have you ever noticed the effects of exercise on yourself or your child?
It is important to sustain healthy gut flora to support your immune system. One way to do it is ensuring you have sufficient friendly bacteria (a.k.a., probiotics) in your system. Friendly bacteria help white blood cells fight off infections, as well as assist in digestion. Probiotics are a staple in my home. Check with your medical practitioner or naturopathic doctor for information on the right probiotic for you and your loved ones.
5. Warm Water with Lemon
The very first thing in the morning is to have a half a cup of warm water with the juice of half an organic lemon. The lemon water alkalizes your body (you want a slightly alkaline pH in your body for optimal health), fights viral infections, acts as anti-inflammatory, and boosts your immune system through its vitamin C properties. If I feel a cold is just about to start, I bump up my lemon water intake to at least three cups a day, if not more. I swear by this regime, and my children now know to ask for lemon water the instant they start to feel unwell to help soothe their throats and nip a nasty virus in the bud.
6. Neti Pots
Neti originated in India. It was a practice often used by yogis and Ayurvedic practitioners to clear their nasal passages. The use of neti pots is now commonly practiced around the world, and it aids to reduce cold and flu symptoms. It involves running salt water through your nasal passages to clear them from toxins that may be trapped in there. Neti pots come with instructions, so panic not. It is easier than it sounds.
7. Essential Oils
Eucalyptus is one of my favourite oils to have handy during the flu and cold season. For a stuffy nose, fill a bowl of hot water, add a few drops of the eucalyptus oil, wrap a towel around yourself and the bowl, and breathe in that steam….ahhhh! Instant relief. I also put in a few drops of the oil into a carrier oil, such as jojoba oil, and add it into my children’s bath. They love it! (Must be the spa like experience!) Eucalyptus oil is a wonderful decongestant, and has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
8. TLT (Tender Loving Touch)
Regular massages are a great way of encouraging blood flow into your body. They also help with lymphatic drainage, which strengthens your immune system. Besides, who needs a reason for a relaxing massage? I’m sold! Other alternative therapies to try are Reiki, cranio-sacral massage, osteopathy, chiropractic therapy, or acupuncture to maintain your immune system. Research, explore, and see which one works best for you.
My children and I see a naturopathic doctor regularly. Every year, we follow a flu and cold season protocol that includes remedies for prevention, as well as for early treatment. I have found supplementation to be key in supporting our bodies to stay healthy and to fight off viruses. Our remedies and supplementation include Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and herbal and homeopathic remedies. It is important to follow a plan that is tailored to your needs and developed by an appropriate professional.
10. Dry Brushing
Dry body brushing is part of my daily routine. I don’t jump into the shower without it! You can use essential oils if you wish on your brush (one drop is plenty) to provide your body with an added boost of energy. I use a great blended oil lymph tonic with my brush. Dry brushing is a great way to jump start your immune system, and to encourage lymphatic drainage. Start with your feet and work your way up toward your heart in circular motions. Choose a brush with natural bristles. It takes only a few minutes a day. I can’t imagine starting my day now without it.
Have you tried any of these practices as part of your daily routine?
If you have any tried and tested methods to get you through the flu and cold season, please share them in the comments below. I would love to hear about your experiences.