We’ve already had a lot of cold weather as we head into Winter. And the wind has been pretty penetrating. I’ve taken to calling it’s effects “deranged vata”….sort of an acupuncture/ayurveda shorthand for having your groundedness blown away by the winds.
We are mammals. Mammals slow down and sleep a lot more during the short, cold days of Winter. This means us!
The holidays are often an emotional time, and they can run our reserves down in many ways. In this post I share ways you can slow down, take care of yourself, and savor just being. This is followed by a section on how to be more comfortable during a cold or flu, and how to speed recovery.
Simple Ways to Stay Healthy During Winter
Here are some suggestions to help keep your immune system healthy this holiday season.
Go for a walk. 20 minutes will do. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and promotes healthy blood & lymphatic circulation helping the immune system function well. You’ll be generating much needed Vitamin D, so make sure your eyes are not covered with sunglasses for at least 10 minutes, even if it’s cloudy.
When you have time, make sure to get out somewhere more wild from time to time. Leaving civilization behind and letting the sights, smells, and sounds of the forest wash over you, will refresh your body, mind and spirit in unexpected ways.
Find time for mindful moments. It is important to carve out a few minutes each day just for you. Research shows that people who practice mindfulness are less stressed, more focused, and better able to regulate their emotions. Try the “Insight Timer” app on your phone. Not only does it have varying lengths and focuses of meditations, but also ambient & binaural music/sounds to enhance various states of being.
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy.
Then you should sit for an hour.”
Wash your hands often. I’m sure you have heard this advice hundreds of times, especially in public spaces, or if someone in your household isn’t well. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
Drink lots of water. No matter the time of year staying hydrated is a healthy habit, and supports the body during times of occasional stress. Drinking fluids flushes out toxins and helps with temperature regulation.
I recently noticed I wasn’t drinking as much water as I normally do since the temperatures have dropped. Consequently I’ve developed a new habit of heating up water in a kettle, pouring a cup and adding ginger juice to it, throughout the day. This simple habit has helped me not only stay hydrated, but digest well and stay warm too. Ginger is a digestive aid, relieves nausea, is warming. and it lowers blood pressure too! I love plants! And this is how they love us!
Make sleep a priority. Lack of sleep can affect your immune system as studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick.
Try these tricks for getting to bed early, and falling asleep more easily:
- Buy safety glasses with orange lenses to wear after the sun goes down. This will block the blue light from screens and light fixtures, allowing our bodies natural sleep cycle to kick in.
- Keep a tincture of the herb Valerian root near your bed for those times when sleep is not coming easily. A dropperful or two will help you sleep through the night without any side-effects. Melatonin is a supplement the some people use too, for the same purpose.
- Lower the temperature of your thermostat to 60 degrees at night. A cold-air humidifier in your room while you are sleeping will keep you hydrated while heat from the furnace is keeping you warm. I found a good, inexpensive model at Target with a silver filter in the tank to fight mildew, and a aromatherapy pad where you can add lavender oil to help you sleep, and/or rosemary and eucalyptus oil to help you breathe if you have a cold.
Herbs & Home Therapies to Soothe & Heal the Nasties
When my office was separate from my home I’d carry around NAC, olive leaf extract & oregano oil capsules in my bag during the late fall through winter. At the first sign of any inkling of a cold I’ll take NAC (N-acetyl cystisine), a potent anti-oxidant that also thins mucus. This is important to me as I have been prone to sinus infections. Cutting dairy out has helped immensely too. Particularly in the winter.
If the cold isn’t nipped in the bud by NAC, I’ll take an olive leaf capsule. And if I’m already ill, oregano oil capsules improve my symptoms within 20 minutes and will begin overpowering whatever it is that has me down.
A great way to stay nourished if you have a fever and no appetite is to sip Bone Broth, as you can. If you have a cold without fever, Bone Broth soup or vegetarian equivalent will give you a lot of the nutrients you need to speed healing.
Teas that are useful when you’re sick are Throat Comfort, Breathe Deep, & Cold Season by Yogi Teas, and Breathe Easy, Throat Coat, & Gypsy Cold Care by Traditional Medicinals. These can be found at the locally owned stores, My Organic Market. Horehound tea and cough drops are helpful for managing coughing and bronchitis.
That humidifier I spoke about above will come in handy if you get sick: Use the aromatherapy pad and add any combination of the following essential oils to help you breathe more easily: eucalyptus, rosemary; and use lavender to help you sleep.
Heat packs for aches and sore throats are so helpful. Here is a yummy neck and shoulder wrap that I have my eye on. I use a microwave to warm my heat packs up. It’s the only reason I use a microwave, as microwaving food destroys nutrients.
A hot bath is helpful if you have enough energy to prepare one, or someone can prepare it for you. Use a cup of epsom salts and a cup or two of apple cider vinegar with lavender and rosemary essential oils in the bath. Don’t use eucalyptus in a bath as it is too strong for your tender nether region.
Be sure to contact me if you are interested in exploring ways to work with me. To your health! ~Warmly, Angela