Even though the shortest day has now been and gone, winter has only really just begun with the coldest months of July and August almost upon us. For many, keeping well during this time can be difficult, especially when being exposed to colds, coughs, flus, and sore throats. All is not lost however. There are many ways to keep yourself healthy during the winter months.
- Feeling Flat? Due to the lack of sunlight at this time of year, some of us experience feeling flat. If this is you, you may suffer from SAD or seasonal affective disorder which is largely caused by a deficiency in Vitamin D3. Supplementation with Vitamin D3 throughout winter may help in many cases, to combat the low mood associated with the low sunlight level…failing an extended trip to a tropical island that is!
- Take your Supplements. Along with a healthy diet, supplementation with vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D and selenium all help to boost immunity by supporting the correct and efficient function of immune cells within the body. Appropriate supplements for you, can also aid in reducing the duration and severity of colds and flus.
- Embrace Herbs. Include plenty of herbs such as ginger, rosemary or thyme in your diet. Also look to consume an immune-boosting tonic made up with herbs such as echinacea, andrographis, thyme or holy basil to support your winter wellbeing.
- Fancy a Brew. Rather than drinking regular tea (which depletes vitamin C in your system), drink herbal teas such as echinacea, eyebright, elderflower, thyme or yarrow. These herbs all help to reduce symptoms associated with colds and flus while also supporting correct functioning of the immune system. A delicious winter warmer such as ginger, lemon and honey can soothe the soul, stomach and support your immunity. To make this beverage, simply add to a mug, ½ tsp of grated raw ginger, ½ tsp pure manuka honey and a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Mix with water hot enough so that you can still hold your pinky finger in it for longer than a few seconds and simply enjoy! Heating pure raw honey to temperatures hotter than this depletes its natural health giving properties.
- Use essential oils. Using an essential oil burner or evaporator in the office or home to combat the spread of colds and flus can be beneficial. Use oils such as tea tree, eucalyptus, manuka, thyme and lavender. You can also add the essential oils to your bath or place a drop on a tissue and carry it with you. Another option is to make an antiviral room spray using 3 drops each of manuka, lavender and juniper mixed with spring water.
- Get your Sleep. Winter is often a time when we naturally want to hibernate like many animals. Poor sleep quality or simply not enough sleep, such as even one or two late nights a week can deplete our immunity. So aim for at least eight to nine hours per night.
- Watch your diet. For many, this time of year is when many throw their healthy eating habits out the window and often reach for those comfort foods, which are high in sugars and saturated fats. Instead, include foods which are high in antioxidants such as oranges, peppers, carrots, beetroot and beans. Your immune system will also thank you for including fresh garlic and ginger in your diet as well.
- Keep moving. It can be easy to forgo your exercise regime during winter, with the daylight hours being shorter and colder. This is actually when we need to exercise the most, not only for cardiovascular health but also to boost the immune system. This is because exercise increases the feel good hormones, which we all need during winter.
- Reduce your stress levels. This time of year can also appear to enhance the feelings of pressure within our modern lifestyles. Ideas for reducing your stress levels include taking time out (even a few minutes can make a difference), resting more and including activities in your daily or weekly routine which you really enjoy. High stress levels can significantly reduce your immunity by increasing the stress hormones within the body. This increase causes your immune cells to be under active and therefore less effective. Remember, stress isn’t just emotional stress. Our bodies don’t recognise the difference between physical and emotional stress. If you find yourself rushing from work to social activities and it all seems too much – take time out to hibernate and look after YOU first.
- Stay Home. If you do become unwell, despite your best efforts, stay home and get bed rest, preferably without screen time too! This complete rest is important so as to prevent the spread of the cold or flu to others or making it worse within yourself. You’re being a good friend or colleague by not sharing the cold or flu around.
If you do become struck down by a dreaded cold or flu, fear not because help is at hand at . I can make up a tonic to help treat your symptoms, which will also provide support to boost your immunity, thus assisting with preventing further winter ills.