Winter is the time for curling up in a cozy blanket with some hot tea, the latest Netflix Original that has piqued your interest…and a giant box of tissues and bag of cough drops for the flu you will inevitably catch. That’s right: it is cold and flu season and even if you got your flu shot you are not completely immune to germs.
That does not mean, however, that you have to give in to them! There are things you can do to keep your body healthy and to keep your energy level up. Here are some of the tricks we’ve used to manage cold and flu season.
Embrace the “SuperFood”
There are a few “superfoods” out there that deserve a place in your diet–not just during cold and flu season but all year long! Some of the most popular superfoods are acai, seaweed, cacao powder, and nutritional yeast. Our favorite super food is the chia seed. Chia seeds, say the folks at Bob’s Red Mill, contain a multitude of health benefits:
“Chia seeds contain a wealth of fiber; 5 grams in just one tablespoon. It is the fiber in chia that causes chia seeds to swell when combined with water, creating chia gel. Whether you eat chia gel or just the raw seeds, the hydrophilic action of chia seeds will keep you full longer than many other seeds. Amazingly, chia gel can also be used as a substitute for eggs in many baked goods. Use a proportion of 1 to 6 ratio of Chia Seeds to Water to make chia gel. Use approximately one tablespoon of chia gel to replace one large egg in your baked goods.”
We love chia seeds because you can add them to pretty much any other food for an extra shot of healthiness. Whatever you’re making, toss in a spoonful of chia seeds and reap the nutritional benefits!
Wash Your Hands
Your hands are usually how germs make their way into your system. You touch something or someone who is sick and then you touch your face or a piece of food and viola! You’re on your way to getting sick. This doesn’t mean, of course, that you shouldn’t ever touch anybody or that you should wear gloves all the time. What you should do, though, is step up your hand washing. Washing your hands before and after you eat and after you use the restroom is the bare minimum you can do. It’s also important to wash your hands after you cough, sneeze or blow your nose. And, of course, you’ll want to wash them correctly. Ten seconds under cold water isn’t going to get rid of the germs!
One of the reasons we get so run down and are more susceptible to illness during the colder months is our tendency to run ourselves ragged during the holidays. There are so many different holidays over the winter months that will need your energy and attention. It’s easy to put off sleeping or to try to get by on just the bare minimum. Don’t! Getting the right amount of sleep at night is one of your best defenses against getting sick! Your body uses that “down time” to step up its internal illness fighting activities. It can do this because your energy isn’t being spent elsewhere. It’s also important that you get good sleep. Quality matters just as much as volume.
There are many different ways to approach the idea of self-care. Many initially approach it as self-pampering. They give themselves permission to skip nutrition in favor of comfort and junk foods, to forego the workout in favor of binging movies or television series. In some ways pampering yourself and giving yourself a break is a part of self-care. But it is only a part. Practicing proper self-care is as much about doing the things you need to do to keep yourself healthy. It means eating well, sleeping well, getting the right amount of exercise, etc. Experts at GoodTherapy define self-care in the following way:
“People all have different requirements for self-care, but in general, the goals of self-care are to find a state of good mental and physical health, reduce stress, meet emotional needs, maintain one’s relationships, both romantic and platonic, and find a balance between one’s personal and academic or professional life.”
Self-care gives you permission to not run yourself into the ground physically, mentally, and emotionally during cold and flu season. This goes a long way toward helping you better fight off the colds and flus that are trying to take you down.
Short of enclosing yourself in a bubble, you’re going to be at risk for illness during cold and flu season. Hopefully, though, if you use the tips we’ve shared here, you’ll be able to fight those illnesses off with better efficiency!