So we are reaching that awful time in winter where there isn’t anything that great to look forward to. We are into the winter blues.
Grey, rainy days. Threats of storms come and go on a weekly basis. The temperatures continue to plummet into the single digits during the nights and the car has a blanket of frost over it each morning.
For the past three years I have booked a holiday to somewhere tropical or in the Northern Hemisphere at some point during winter to get through it. This year is no exception, I’ll be off to sunny Utah in 60 days, where I’ll be back to wearing my sandals in the warm sun.
In the meantime however, I’m dealing with winter and finding ways to make it suck less. Part of what I feel makes winter so awful is dealing with illness. A few years ago, while still working as a teacher it seemed I was doomed to catch the flu and anything else going around the school. But, since I’ve become involved in the wellness industry I’ve learned some really simple practices that ensure I stay well all year long. That includes winter. There are times where I may still come down with a bit of a cold, but my recovery is much faster than it would usually be and it is definitely not as severe.
With that being said, here are 5 simple things you can do to keep well this winter:
1.Schedule Self Care.
We all know that taking time out for ourselves is important. But are we actually doing it? Are we making it a priority? Marie Forleo says that unless it’s scheduled it’s not real. So, if you haven’t got it written down in your diary go do it now! When you are a stressed out bunny living on the go, your immune system takes a beating. And as women, when you get sick, your family don’t care! You still need to keep going. So avoid getting sick in the first place by putting yourself first. 10 minutes a day is all you might need to just have some quiet time in your room.
2. Master your Digestion.
Did you know that 70% of our immune system lives inside our gut? So, if you want a healthy immune system you better get gut loving! You can help your gut flora by eating lots of fresh and fermented foods. Things like kombucha, kimchi and sauerkraut are really good options as well as kefir that you can sometimes find in the yogurt section of the supermarket. It is also a very good idea to take a probiotic, which I take every second day to help my good gut bacteria to thrive. When you’ve got too much bad bacteria in the gut it can become a breeding ground for all sorts of nasty stuff, which leads to illness. So add all of that good bacteria back into your gut by taking a probiotic. To further aid your digestion up your intake of fibre and water each day and try some gentle yoga and stretching before bed.
3. Supplement to Support your Immune System.
There is an overwhelming amount of research that shows we can no longer get all of the nutrition that our cells need from our diet alone. Even if you’re a yogi that eats a 100% plant based diet while meditating in the mountains you STILL are not getting all of the nutrition you need because our food quality is so poor. I could go on all day about this, but it’s a post for another day. Back to my original message: supplementing your diet, especially over winter will have a huge positive effect on how you feel and function each day. My favourite immune boosting products are:
Essentials: Multi Vitamin. This is number one because as I mentioned above, so many of us are deficient in the basic vitamins and minerals we need.
Biomega: Fish Oil. Omega 3 fatty acids are important for so many body functions, but the biggest reason I love them is that they keep our cell membranes permeable. The job of your cell membrane is to get nutrients in and waste out. If your cell membrane doesn’t have enough Omega 3 fatty acids it can become hardened and therefore it’s difficult to do it’s job.
Vitamin D: This is another vital nutrient that we can only get from three sources: Our food ( which we already know is an unreliable source. How do you know how much you are getting from that egg?), the sunlight ( which disappears over winter) or supplementation. If any of my clients tell me they feel depressed over winter, or they get the winter blues I immediately suggest they take Vitamin D and it works. Every, single time. For about $20 you can take a Vitamin D supplement or feel sad your choice 😉
Probiotic: I’ve already mentioned the benefits of this above
Proflavanol C: This is a powerful combination of Vitamin C and concentrated grape seed extract that helps to reduce the duration and severity of the common cold, especially in people who train very hard and exercise regularly. It also helps to boot your immune function, so as soon as I feel like I’m getting run down I will take Proflavanol C and it stops it in it’s tracks.
4. Get Plenty of Sleep.
When you’re not getting enough rest, it can have a serious effect on your immune system, making you more vulnerable to catching colds. Studies also show that lack of sleep can also result in a substantial decrease in the white blood cells that help to fight infection in the body. The biggest thing that I’ve done to help myself sleep more peacefully is to turn off all screens at least an hour before bedtime. That’s no TV, lap top or phone. When it’s dark, it helps to boost the release of melatonin in your brain and you will have a far more restful nights sleep than if you lie in bed staring at your phone for an hour and then try to go to sleep. It also helps to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends if you can.
5. Stay Connected.
Socialising actually strengthens your immune system by keeping you active, and reducing stress levels. So, avoid hibernating all winter by rugging up on the couch and make plans with friends. You don’t have to be outside, although if you wrap up enough a walk in the park can be very refreshing in winter. You could simply invite your friends over for dinner, host a games night or meet your friend at the art gallery for the afternoon.
Enjoy winter my friends,