Cold and Flu season is quickly approaching (and for some, it’s already here!)
Getting vaccinated is a choice many of you will make, but some of you may feel uncomfortable with getting shots, what’s IN the shots, or the efficacy of the shots. So how else can you pad your flu arsenal? Here are some tips on how you can lessen your chances of getting the flu this year:
1.) Lower your Stress – This time of year often brings all kinds of stress through work, family, planning for the holidays, and spending late nights out at parties. Studies show that your nervous, endocrine, and immune systems are all connected. Stress is known to lower your immune function. A mere 4 hours of continual stress can potentially lower your body’s release of antibodies! (Imagine the effects of continual stress over a long period of time.) Squash the stress by practicing meditation, yoga, or conscious breathing, and exercising every day for at least 30 minutes.
2.) Arm your Tummy – 80% of your immune system is located in your gut. Promote tummy wellness by taking a multi-strain probiotic every day, and load antioxidant-rich foods into your diet. (Rule of Thumb: If it’s bright and colorful, it’s most likely packed with antioxidants!) One snazzy little root called turmeric can be found at most grocery stores. It’s known for its healing properties for cardiovascular health. Mix shaved turmeric with vitamin-c rich lemon, ginger and hot water for a potent and healthy immune-boosting elixir every day.
3.) Aim for 8 hours of Sleep Every Day – Those parties and holiday festivities I was talking about? Yeah, they keep you up all night and encroach on your valuable sleep time! 7-9 hours is key in allowing your body the time it needs to repair/restore itself, and fight any nasty bugs that may be trying to take over your system. Take advantage of the extra hours of dark in the winter to cozy up with a book in bed, and get to sleep a little earlier.
4.) Wash Your Hands and Try Not to Touch Your Face – We all know about this rule, and yet we don’t think of washing our hands before we eat, or after we’ve been in a public place (including the gym!) where we touch any number of things that could have germs on them. Research studies from the National Institute of Health claim that we touch our face approximately 3.6 times per hour, and touch other objects 3.3 times per hour. Our noses, eyes, and mouths are gateways into our bodies for germs. I’ll let you do the math.
5.) Love Thy Self – This goes along with stress-reduction, but I wanted to put it into a category all its own. Loving your self includes taking time out to pamper your self – either through a well-balanced meal, some much-needed downtime instead of the wild Vegas weekend, or practicing loving kindness towards your self by drawing a bath and lighting some candles. We can only control our external environment to a certain extent. Our internal environment is a different story. With so many physical and emotional stressors that arise in these autumn/winter months, it would benefit you to learn how to take time for you. With the practice of self love comes the discipline needed to take the precautions listed above. Perhaps this is the most important of all of the advice in this post!