If your family is anything like mine, there is bound to be someone who isn’t feeling well when we all gather for the Christmas holiday. No one wants to be the culprit who brings the germs and makes everyone sick. I started feeling a tickle in the back of my throat earlier this week and immediately went into defensive mode. I surely don’t want it to be me this year! I feel much better now but was inspired to write this post to share five of my go-to tips for nipping the sniffles, or worse, in the bud.
Don’t let the stress get to you! If you don’t get stressed during the holidays then I commend you. But for most people, the holiday season can bring about a lot of stress. Parties to attend or host, gifts to buy, friends to see, food to cook, with the possibility of some travel thrown in the mix. There has been a lot of information that has come out linking chronic, long-term stress to many of the common diseases in our society. Some level of stress is inevitable (we don’t live in a vacuum), so what matters is how we manage it. Think of what you like to do to relax and calm yourself down. A hot bath? A walk in the woods? A cup of tea? An hour or so in the gym or on the yoga mat? Everyone has different ways they cope. Find yours and set aside some time in your day to do it.
Get your ZZZZZs: I don’t know about you, but when I am busy sleep is the first thing that goes, even though it is one of my favorite things to do. And I have been fairly busy lately, so you can imagine how that has worked out for me. When we sleep our bodies go into rest and repair mode. Lack of adequate levels of sleep (around 8 hours a night) alters the function of our immune system, can increase stress levels (see 1 above), makes us irritable (who wants to be a grouch over the holidays?), and has a direct impact on hormones that regulate our appetite. If you are taking some time off over the holiday, this is the perfect opportunity to get in those 8 full hours, or more. I love mornings when I don’t have to wake up to an alarm (especially when it’s to doggie kisses instead) and I intend to take full advantage during my week off next week. Have trouble falling asleep at night? Take a quick inventory of your caffeine consumption during the day. I personally know that if I drink coffee after 3 pm I won’t be able to fall asleep in the evening. Everyone has a difference tolerance, so experiment and figure out what works best for you. Drinking one less cup or switching to green tea could do wonders for your snoozing.
Echinacea tea and Manuka honey: I grew up with a mother who believes that tea is the cure for all that ails you. I admit that, at times (especially as teenager), this annoyed me. But now that I am older and try to live as natural of a life as possible, tea is the first thing I go to when I’m not feeling well (funny how you realize as you get older that your mother was really right all along…). I drink herbal tea every night before going to bed, especially during the colder months. It is comforting and soothing. To boost my immune system I drink Echinacea tea with a dollop of Manuka honey. Echinacea is a well-known cold and flu combatant due to its immune strengthening and antimicrobial properties. It works by activating certain chemicals in the body that decrease inflammation. Manuka honey comes from the Manuka tree, which is found in New Zealand and parts of Australia where it is classified and regulated as a "therapeutic good.” When buying Manuka honey, make sure the label displays a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor), which indicates the level of anti-bacterial potency, of 10+. If you can’t find Manuka honey, local honey made by bees that pollinate from flowers in your environment is the next best thing.
Essential oils: Essential oils are awesome. For those of you who are into natural remedies, essential oils are where to go. I am on a mission to slowly build up my stock so I have something for every common ailment, from headaches, to runny noses, to period cramps. For colds, your best bets are eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender. You can diffuse and inhale peppermint and lavender to help with a runny nose. For those without a diffuser, add a few drops to a steaming cup of water, cover your head with a towel and inhale the vapors (who cares how funny you look, it works). Apply eucalyptus or peppermint to your chest if you have a cough or chest congestion. If you are interested in learning more about essential oils, leave me a comment here and we can chat about it further! I am all about sharing the essential oil love. For those who are curious, I get my oils from doTERRA.
Eat with the season: As I’ve said many times before, our bodies haven’t changed too much since we were hunter-gatherers. Back then, we would forage for and kill whatever was around us to eat. This changed depending on where we lived and what season it was. Fast-forward to today, the concept is the same. Our bodies perform their best when we eat foods that are common to the region we live in and the season. In the summer we are drawn to cooling foods such as raw salads and smoothies. In the winter we are drawn to foods that are warming such as soups and stews. It is approaching winter where I live and I have broken out the soup pot a few times already and have swapped my morning smoothie for oatmeal. These days in the U.S. we can get produce year-round from all over the globe, so many of us really don’t even know what is considered “in season.” Winter is the season of root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, turnips), cabbage, onions, pumpkins, winter squash and apples, to name a few. Try to keep your geographical location and the season in mind when you go shopping. Pinterest is a great place for ideas on how to whip up delicious stuff from the goodness that is winter vegetables. I will make sure to post some of my favorite stews on here over the next few months. :)
Whatever holiday you are celebrating and whoever you are celebrating it with, I wish you and yours the healthiest and happiest of holidays.
~Peace, love and mistletoe~