Winter has returned! With winter comes colds, influenza, stomach viruses and other illnesses that require bed rest. The best way to beat cold and flu season is to take extra care of yourself. The best way to take care of yourself is to hibernate completely in a warm bed, duvet intact, with your trusty pet at your side, in front of a television, with a warm cup of ginger tea and toast and marmalade, from November 15th to March 15th, only to emerge for meals/showers, etc. Okay, thanks for allowing me to fantasize about my winter! Unfortunately, most of us are forced to leave our homes for work or school.
Here are some more realistic ways to fight off illness in the winter months:
- Lots of Vitamin C is the first suggestion because this vitamin is the most powerful immune boosting vitamin available. Red peppers, oranges, kiwi, broccoli, or supplements will help. Zinc is the next best thing to fight off viruses. You can find zinc in lamb, beef, pork and salmon, as well as dairy products, seeds, nuts, whole grains and beans.
- Exercise: Keep active as much as possible so that your body can fight off any viruses through boosting your immune system. When you exercise your body produces endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitter in your brain.
- Wash your hands as much as possible, especially once you get home after school or work, and whenever you touch something in a public place such as a door knob. Do not touch your face during the day. It is a good idea to carry around ‘hand sanitizer’ or the wipes that you can get at a pharmacy.
- Avoid sugary foods and foods with flour and try to eat whole foods such as fruit and vegetables. Too much sugar can crash your immune system. Drink lots of pure fruit juices and make smoothies.
- Drink a lot of water to stay hydrated and to clean out your system, if you do end up with a virus. As well, hot tea with ginger such as green tea, or any other herbal tea without caffeine is good for you.
- Opt for garlic in your meals as this will strengthen your immune system. Toss some garlic into salad dressings, or any dish, or opt for odorless garlic pills that you can get at your pharmacy.
Good luck in staying healthy this winter. As well as the above suggestions for physical health, keep yourself healthy mentally as well. Make sure you have a good book to read before bed, watch lots of comedy, be aware of your moods and if you start to become negative about everything and your daily tasks become difficult for you, tell yourself that these moods are not realistic. Pull yourself out of negativity by focusing on what you have to look forward to, or, tell yourself that these feelings will pass. Make sure that you get outside in the sun, try to buy a sun lamp for your home, and hug your pets and family members as much as possible. Seasonal Affective Disorder is very real and can begin in the fall and continue throughout the winter. Please see your family doctor if your moodiness persists and you just can’t shake the negative feelings.
Winter in Canada is a difficult time for everyone. Do all you can to treat and reward yourself. Our landscape and weather have molded us to be tough and resilient, but we still must make sure that we pamper ourselves by relaxing in warmth as much as possible and not taking on too many things that drag us out into the cold. Traveling to Florida or another warm tropical climate is a great way to shake off the cold and boost your health. But for those of us who can’t, lets throw beach parties by turning up the thermostat and putting out the plastic palm trees!