5 things you can do to keep February colds away
Five simple steps to boost your immune system and stay healthy all winter
In this age of farro bowl selfies and Yoga-grams, ‘health’ has become synonymous with glamour, and vice versa. It has also become complicated and ambitious — not what most of us are looking for in the middle of February. Modest goals are more like it. Goals like changing out of sweatpants for two whole hours, and having salad alongside frozen taquitos. Yes, that sounds manageable.
The problem is, eating garbage and lying sedentary while scrolling through garbage makes us feel like, well, garbage. And, it can make us sick. Though most of us are mostly keeping to ourselves these days, we are not immune to illness. Even during lockdown, there are plenty of ways to fall ill. For example, diet and bacteria-related illnesses don’t require the sight of a single soul. All they require is that we continue indulging in bad habits, eating bad food, and being lazy.
But what about those of us who are staying active, eating well, and staying home? What’s the verdict, then? Most of us aren’t staying home completely. Contact with the outside world may be drastically reduced. For the majority of us, it hasn’t stopped altogether though.
Even if we are working from home, our partner, spouse, or kids may not be.
But we’re not here to tell you that you’re doomed. We’re not even here to tell you to do better. We’re here to tell you to feel better. Health is not homework (or glamour). Health is how we feel, and you deserve to feel good.
So, let’s back slowly away from the freezer, and take our first tentative steps toward clean living. Don’t worry — you can keep your sweatpants on.
5 Things You Can Do to Keep February Colds Away
1) Don’t Get Sick:
The first step to staying healthy is (ahem) not getting sick. We live in strange times and this item may seem a little redundant if we are already locked down, masked, distanced, swathed in bubble wrap, and marinated in hand sanitizer. However, colds still exist and are easily transmitted via dirty hands and fingers.
Unless you and your kids have stopped touching things, immune resistance to the common cold and other germs is still a consideration this winter.You can help yourself stay healthy by keeping your hands clean and washing them regularly, which is a good idea for all kinds of reasons.
As far as immunity goes, there is no magic bullet, but there are a few nutritional changes you can make (backed by hard science). Adding things like vitamin C and Bakers Yeast to your diet are believed to make a difference in your health. Lucky for you, both are found in our Immunity Helper.
2) Lights Out:
If you don’t believe sleep matters, do a quick search of the question, “How much sleep should I get?” When you are done, look up, “How bad is it to not get enough sleep?” There is no way to sugarcoat this one: you MUST make sleep a priority. Not sleeping makes you grouchy, sad, and can even make you act less smart. And, there is probably no better way to get sick than insufficient sleep.
What is sufficient sleep? Well, more than most of us are getting. But don’t despair (that will keep you awake): We need 7-9 hours of Grade-A prime, uninterrupted sleep. Even you can do it; we believe in you! But how …?
The best thing for your sleep schedule is… a schedule. This should be a cinch given the recent downsizing of your nightlife, but distractions do get in the way. Is there too much light in the bedroom? Too much noise outside your bedroom? Turn off the lights; lock the cats out; use earplugs; get a silk eye mask. You need your Z’s.
3) Have a Seat:
We don’t need a reason to feel less stressed or less depressed, but here is one anyway. Stress harms your immune system and makes you sick. Although this is a pretty good reason to chill out, most of us are unable to simply turn off the feelings that make us stressed.
The way we live our lives changed so quickly and dramatically in 2020. We have all had to make major adjustments, and most of us (especially as we age) struggle with dramatic change. It’s stressful enough when we choose to try new things or learn new skills, but when change happens to us, it’s an entirely different animal. Change is hard and many of us continue to struggle with managing and reducing stress. If the phrase ‘chill out’ sounds like a tall order, especially these days, we feel you.
The good news is, one of the most effective approaches to stress-reduction requires literally nothing of you. nothing. Yep, we’re talking meditation, which is scientifically proven to de-stress us, boost our immune system, and help us live longer (yes really).
“Mindfulness” as a practice is about as gussied up as any other wellness tool (slogans and selfies abound), however, the core is as simple as sitting and breathing. And you don’t even have to be good at that. We know because we are … not good at it, yet, we have experienced the rewards of mindfulness.
Give it a try. Sit for five minutes and try to focus only on the physical sensation of breathing. If you are us, you can’t do it and you’re halfway through the plot of a B movie by minute three. But don’t despair. Becoming aware of our diffuse and fragmented thinking is a great first step to achieving a calmer mind. and body. According to Mindful.org all you need is a little patience, some self-kindness, and a cushion.
4) Don’t Eat That:
You might want to sit down for this one -- what we put into our bodies affects our physical and mental well-being. Shocker, right? But seriously, do you eat girl scout cookies by the sleeve? We have been known to do this. And while we are all for self-affirmation and self-love, not one time have we finished smashing a column of thin-mints and felt great afterward.
And no, this isn’t shame talking. It’s science.
If we’re being brutally honest, we really do feel better all around when we eat good stuff -- nutrient-rich low, calorie foods. These are, coincidentally, often the foods that will also bolster a healthy gut and immune system. And, lucky for you, many of these important nutrients can be found in our Immunity Helper and Good Gut). They include citrus, garlic, ginger, turmeric, greens and so many of the other good stuff we all need.
But what about that hungry feeling you get when you’re eating right? As in so many areas of our lives, the all or nothing ethos is counterproductive when it comes to good foods. When healthy eating becomes a priority, scrapping everything you used to love just doesn’t work. We have implemented a “less trash” approach which allows us to be both realistic and gentle with ourselves while always striving for better and better for us. This means that we try to keep away from food with no nutritional value, but give ourselves a break when we occasionally just really want that dessert.
With all the subscription meal plans out there, now, it can actually be quite convenient to eat a variety of healthy stuff on the regular. And the health benefits of mixing it up are huge. Fish dishes like this one are delicious and easy to make. It requires healthy ingredients, the fish is a good sources of fatty acids, and the main course pairs wonderfully with a healthy salad.
Good foods do more than just put good things into our bodies -- they also displace the bad things that we otherwise might eat. Remember, while the good may be the enemy of the best, half of the donuts you eat right now plus a kale salad is still better than all of the donuts you eat right now.
As with so much else that is good for us, physical activity makes us feel good. So why is exercise so daunting for so many of us? There is nothing like hopping on a treadmill to suck the joy out of movement. Something which should be wholesome and glorious can, at first, make us feel like a hamster in a wheel -- going through the motions for something that may or may not make a difference.
It does make a difference, though. It helps our bodies and our brains and can even help with development and function.
Maybe the treadmill isn’t for you, but what about taking 30 minutes a day to take a walk, hike, or casual bike ride? Even mundane tasks like raking leaves or shoveling snow helps. Mowing the lawn? You betcha (with a push-mower, of course)!
Yes, even easy yoga or stretching counts as ‘light’ exercise. All of these activities give ua a measure of the benefits of ‘exercise,’ including better overall health. And better health naturally leads to a stronger immune system.
Because many of these activities also get outdoors, we are thereby exposed to sunlight (don’t forget your sunscreen!), which stimulates the production of vitamin D (which stimulates the immune system). Bundling up and taking a brisk walk in the winter sunshine will not only help keep you feeling healthy, it might make the time you spend after being lazy, that much more rewarding.
Change takes time. Creating habits requires repetition. Eventually, if you commit to moving around often enough, you will eventually start to crave the endorphin hit you get from doing things that feel natural and enjoyable. And, if you’re like us, you will even start to miss that good feeling you get after a light sweat if too much time goes by between ‘workout.’Our hope is that, eventually, the knowledge of how good you’ll feel after, gets you going even when you’re feeling sluggish.
And the same goes for food. Once you start getting rid of junk-food-brain-fog, and feeling more energized, you will begin craving the stuff that keeps you at your best.
But no matter what you do or change or try, you can rest assured that there is always a way to do a little better with no more effort. We’re talking about supplements. Give one of our wellness shot variety packs a try to discover with flavors you like best. And while you’re waiting on it to ship (it doesn’t take long!) we recommend trying to find a few small ways to replace the stale not-so-healthy patterns we have all been falling into with a little sunshine, a good night’s rest, and a few deep breaths. Salud!