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It can be hard to stay healthy this time of year, especially with such high incidences of colds and flu throughout the world. But how can you protect yourself and your family so you can keep thriving in cold and flu season?
Wash your hands often and well
I know everyone is forever going on about washing your hands, but it really is incredibly important. Wash your hands frequently and well – including the backs of your hands and between your fingers – for at least 15 seconds. That’s the amount of time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ through twice, and this may be a good way to help children to remember to slow down and wash properly.
Avoid touching your face
Your eyes, nose and mouth are the easiest places for germs to get into your body. It’s absolutely amazing how often we touch our faces, often without even realizing it. Being aware of this can help you to limit the number of times you do it, and therefore the number of times you are exposed to germs.
Stress weakens the immune system. Be aware of stress, and try to minimize it where possible. Keep things in perspective (will this matter a year from now?) and build time to recharge into your schedule. Meditation and the Ready, Set, Pause initiative from Amy Jo Martin may help as well. By building regular Ready, Set, Pause breaks – even of only a few minute each – into your day you can avoid the build up of chronic stress.
It goes without saying that a balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables, can help you stay well. Current research seems to point to the importance of Vitamins C and E in preventing colds and flu too. You can find more healthy eating tips here.
Get enough sleep
Adults need seven and a half to nine hours sleep per night, but most of us are getting about six and a half, meaning that we are chronically sleep deprived. The right amount and quality of sleep are crucially important to maintaining your health. Even one less hour of sleep than you need per night can compromise your cardiovascular health and your immune system. Sleep is not an indulgence; it is critically important to maintaining your health and quality of life.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Inhaling Tea Tree vapours may help prevent colds and flu. Tea Tree is antiseptic, and can be used in an essential oil burner. Use with other essential oils such as lavender or camomile as it does smell strong. I put a few drops of tea tree oil in a bath or on the edges of the shower (not underfoot or you could slip) so I can breathe in the vapours while washing. Consult an essential oil practitioner and/or your doctor before using essential oils if you have any outstanding health issues, are or may be pregnant.
What if, despite all your efforts, you got a bad cold or the flu anyway? First and foremost, stay home and rest. Soldiering on just means you will share your germs with others.
What to do if you do get sick
Rest, drink plenty of liquids and if you do feel like eating, choose light, easily digestible foods like tea and toast, or ginger ale and plain biscuits.
Take care of yourself. If you are not fevered, a warm bath can make you feel better. Olbas Bath (affiliate link) may help unblock your nose and soothe tired, aching muscles.
If you have a sore throat or cough, you may find warm drinks soothing. I mix the juice of a lemon with two teaspoons of honey in a mug, topping it up with hot water. The vitamin C in the lemon may help your immune system and the honey should soothe your throat. I particularly like the Lemon and Honey and Throat and Chest variety. I’ve never been a particular fan of traditional ‘cough candies’ but I have found Jakemans (affiliate link) menthol based confectionery to be very soothing to the throat and it often helps calm a cough as well.
If you think you may have more than just a cold, do consider visiting your doctor. And always be very vigilant of flu symptoms in the very young, elderly or infirm.
This post is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your doctor in the event of illness and before using any complimentary or over the counter health products or medicines.