27 Dec Staying Healthy During Sick Season
Winter is here and it seems like everyone is sick or just getting over being sick! The cold months are frequently referred to as sick season as people start getting sick more often and are having to make more frequent visits to the doctor. Many professionals believe the higher rates of illness in the winter are due to less outside time, the resulting lack of sunshine and fresh air and the over-consumption of sugar during the holiday season. Read on for a few tips to keep you and your kids healthy this winter.
Take a Vitamin D Supplement
Low Vitamin D levels have been linked to numerous health problems including; lowered immune system function, many chronic diseases, the development of cancer and emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety. The winter months can be a difficult time to maintain your vitamin D levels as the sun becomes less accessible than it was in the summer. Though the sun provides the best method for maintaining your Vitamin D, during the winter months and in certain regions year-round, it becomes impossible to get the necessary amounts from sun exposure alone. Fortunately, there are other ways to maintain your levels; a safe tanning bed is a good option, though make sure to choose one that has electronic rather than magnetic ballasts to ensure safe UV levels. Vitamin D3 supplements are another option for making sure you get adequate amounts of this vitamin during the winter months.
It is estimated that 80% of our immune system exists in the bacteria of our gut, it is also believed that 90% of serotonin production occurs in the gut. This means maintaining healthy gut bacteria is extremely beneficial in warding off illnesses, feeling emotionally and mentally balanced and optimizing overall wellness. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that are beneficial to the gut and digestive system; they can be taken in supplement form or by consuming fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, kombucha and kefir. Current research shows that the consumption of fermented foods and drinks may be more beneficial than supplement form; however, either option is better than none.
Natural Immune System Boosters
Garlic, turmeric, and coconut are examples of foods that contain naturally occurring properties that positively impact the immune system. Coconut contains antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties and is available in many different forms, including oil and milk. Garlic, a spice commonly used in cooking, contains medicinal properties and is known for combatting common illnesses such as colds and flu, as well as boosting the immune system. Lastly, turmeric is believed to reduce inflammation in the body thereby enhancing overall physical health and promoting wellness. Try adding in some of these foods to your daily meals to add extra protection to your immune system!
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is one of those things that we tend to take for granted until we aren’t getting enough of it, and then we marvel at how quickly we fall apart. I feel terrible unless I get at least 7 hours of sleep, I am grouchy, impatient and just feel generally unwell. This was something I didn’t realize about myself until I started getting less sleep after having kids. I have also noticed that I tend to get sick more when I am overtired. Do yourself a favor and prioritize your sleep, you will feel better overall, you’ll have lower stress levels and you will be less likely to get sick!
Make Sure to Prioritize Down Time
When the holidays roll around, finding time to relax at home can be difficult, however the importance of taking time to connect as a family and slow down cannot be overstated. Kids are busy these days; school schedules and extracurricular activities dominate much of their days. Most parents are also overscheduled with full time jobs and transporting kids to and from activities, add in all the planning and preparation for the holidays and you often end up with high levels of stress! Use the holiday break as a chance to rejuvenate, reconnect and unwind, everybody needs it. Create time for everyone to disconnect from social media and the web. Put on a C.D, play a board game, sing some Christmas carols, make some hot cocoa, sit around and talk. Take some time to connect with the people you care about most during this holiday season.
One of the best things you can do to stay healthy and increase wellness levels is to practice a daily form of relaxation. Different types of relaxation could include meditation, yoga, praying or listening to relaxing music. Self-care rituals such as a warm baths, self-massage or journaling can also provide a wonderful means to relaxation. The goal of the activity, whatever it might be, is to reduce toxic stress built up from the day, and replace it with something that is soothing to your nervous system.
Moderate Your Sugar
The holidays can be one of the hardest times for eating well. It seems every time you turn around someone is there with another plate of goodies. Do not expect perfection of yourself, take the time to enjoy some of the delicious treats of the season if you like, just try to keep it to a minimum. Sugar can lower immunity by making your white blood cells less effective at killing germs and competing with Vitamin C for cell space. Try not to go overboard on the treats, or if you want to keep your immunity top notch, avoid sugar as much as possible. Your immune system and overall health will thank you.
There may be many different causes of sick season, but one truth remains: Nobody likes being sick! By introducing some healthy routines, adding new foods to your repertoire and perhaps slowing down your schedule a bit; you and your family could find yourselves having your best sick season yet, a healthy, happy one!
About the author
Sarah Oxley is a writer, devoted student of life and lover of psychology and poetry. She is mother to two beautiful children who remind her each and every day of how to live more mindfully. She is motivated by a desire to inspire others to live their best lives and believes that life’s most important lesson is learning to be kinder to ourselves and others. Sarah is a contributor to KachyTVblog.