|Staying Healthy with the Seasons|
I don’t like to get sick, you don’t like to get sick. Since I’ve simplified my lifestyle I find that I am not getting sick as much. Bacteria and viruses are always around us. You only get sick when you succumb to them, when your defenses are down, when you are stressed and doing too much - when you have gotten away from the simple life. It can’t be avoided sometimes. Life just has a habit of having all school parties, all work deadlines, and all family birthdays falling in the same week.
We can say no to many social events. We can say no to many after school activities for our kids. It is hard to say no to the extra, very important, project your boss needs you to do by the end of the week. But, by doing some simple things you can help prevent getting sick.
Wash your hands: We tell our kids to do this all the time, but I don’t see the adults doing it. You can reduce your chance of getting sick by simply washing your hands anytime you are going to eat. This includes snacks, because you are not eating that granola bar with a knife and fork! If it is inconvenient, or you are just plain lazy like I am, carry hand sanitizer. I keep a small bottle in my purse and a large hand pump bottle in my kitchen. If my kids hem and haw about washing their hands I say, “Then, just use the gel.” and they will.
Spray your nose with saline: morning and night. My doctor taught me this trick. As soon as the heat goes on in your home start spraying your nose with saline mist. By keeping your sinuses hydrated they do their job of flushing out irritants such as: allergens and bacteria more efficiently. The salt in the water is believed to be a mild anti-bacterial that actually kills germs that cause illnesses. Everyone in my family has a saline bottle labeled with their name. We all spray our noses when we brush our teeth in the morning and at night. This is a very inexpensive investment per family member. It also makes your nose feel better in the winter, mine was always getting dry and crusty. It definitely prevents sinus infections which can be incredibly painful.
Sleep: The winter is not a time to burn the midnight oil. It gets darker earlier, before artificial lights, this was a signal to our bodies to get more rest. It is stressful for your body to have less light. Colder weather and being in buildings that are not well ventilated, puts you in an environments in which you need your immune system functioning well. Lack of sleep reduces your t-cells. These are important for fighting off disease. So, remember it’s winter, time to hibernate!
Get moderate exercise: Going along with the notion that winter is a time to slow down,you should not start training for a marathon in February. When it is cold muscles are tighter and you are more prone to injury if you over exert yourself. Now is a time to do more gentle exercises: walking, moderate weight training, and yoga. Yoga is especially great to do during the winter because it is not only gentle on your body, it is introspective. Which is so compatible with a time that is really about resting and dreaming about what you want to start in the Spring; when the outdoor world comes back to life and your energy level naturally increases.
There is a terrific book about thinking of your health and activity level as something that should change and reflect the seasons. It is called: Staying Healthy with The Seasons, by Elson M. Haas, M.D. In it Dr. Haas, based in Chinese medicine, gives advice about which organs are weaker at different times of the year and what herbs and activities are best to do during different seasons. It is a really wonderful book for helping you get more in tune with nature and it’s cycles. This is key to simple living. When you are in harmony with your environment things just flow more naturally, and life is simpler.