Winter is right around the corner and with those colder, darker mornings and shorter days comes the dreaded cold and flu season. The good news is, there are a number of simple things you can do in order to help boost your immunity and stay healthier as you hunker down and wait for the return of spring.
Not getting enough sleep can wreak havoc on your immune system, which in turn can leave you susceptible to all those nasty germs flying around. Make getting ready for bed a ritual that helps you relax. Try not to watch TV or stare at your computer screen (including your phone!) for about an hour before bed. Take a warm bath with a cup of tea and some relaxing music on. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to fall asleep if you spend a little time getting ready for it!
In order to keep our immune system performing optimally, it’s especially important to make sure you’re eating plenty of foods high in vitamin C. If you find yourself having a hard time getting in all the fruits and veggies you need to, try having a smoothie. Here are some GREAT ideas for all sorts of different smoothies!
Research suggests that something as simple as a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day increases the number of immune cells that circulate in the body. According to Dr. David Nieman at Appalachian State University, “regular aerobic exercise, five or more days per week for more than 20 minutes a day, rises above all other lifestyle factors in lowering sick days during the winter and fall cold seasons.”
Supportive interactions with others benefit immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular functions. So, avoid the temptation to shut down and hibernate all winter… you are not a bear! Get together with your friends for a walk or spend an afternoon at a museum or the movies.
Washing your hands frequently is one of the best ways to prevent illness by limiting the transfer of germs and bacteria. Use soap and warm water and spend about 20 seconds, or about the time it takes for you to sing “Happy Birthday.” And now I know you are going to be washing your hands all winter and singing Happy Birthday to yourself in the mirror.
As many preventative steps as you take though to avoid getting sick, it’s pretty much a given that at some point you are going to feel a little under the weather. When this happens, practice a little self-compassion. Break out your big fluffy robe, get under the covers and and have a Netflix marathon. Rest up and stay hydrated as you recover and before you know it, you’ll be feeling as good as new again!