Yes, the wintry and cold weather has started here in Blighty and some kind soul has shared their germs with me. To be fair, I’m valiantly battling bugs where others have been pretty poorly with a persistent cough.
So, I felt inspired to write about winter wellness and share my own, personal survival guide. Those little health helping hints to see me through the dark and cold days.
Mr P would tell you that it’s Stones Ginger Wine for him and okay we do have that in the cupboards, but that’s NOT what I’m talking about.
Here are some of things I suggest to keep bugs at bay AND wend your way through winter feeling more wonderful.
Take Vitamin D
We manufacture our Vitamin D from sunshine, mostly. And it’s now autumn/winter here in the UK and the Northern Hemisphere. So not much sunshine. There are very few food sources and they’re not enough to provide all we need anyway. Vitamin D is found in oily fish (salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines), eggs and red meat. It’s added to some foods.
So everyone over the age of five years, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10mcg or 400 iU of Vitamin D as D3 in the Northern Hemisphere winter, according to the NHS website in the UK. It’s likely many people become low in Vitamin D or even deficient in winter.
Vitamin D is actually a HORMONE not a Vitamin, so plays a big role in that big old, complex system of triggers, messages and responses that IS the hormone system. And we ALL know how important it is to try to keep our hormones balanced.
Signs of deficiency include:-
- trouble thinking clearly
- bone pain, breaks and bone deformities
- muscle weakness
- unexplained fatigue
…so pretty general symptoms.
Levels can be tested by a simple blood test by your doctor, if you think you may at risk of low Vitamin D.
Hype Up The Hygiene
Come on peeps, wash your hands. Cover your mouth when you cough. Sneeze into a tissue that you throw away. Immediately.
Sounds super simple, but it’s the best way to stop the spread of germs. It’s really, really key for winter wellness.
Wash your hands regularly and in particular after using the toilet and before meals. Give them a wash after touching someone else’s phone or keyboard or door handles or kettle … you catch my drift.
Teach the kids too.
Get Manuka Honey
A good store cupboard staple. Manuka honey.
Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native manuka bush.
Honey has been used since ancient times to help lots of different conditions. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that researchers discovered honey’s has natural antibacterial qualities.
Honey protects against bacteria. Some honey also stimulates production of cells that can repair tissue damaged by infection. It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory.
But not all honey is the same. Some kinds of honey are more potent than others.
Keep your immune system tippety top by making sure you’re eating a healthy diet at least 80-90% of the time. For your body to fight infection, it needs to have enough protein, so enjoy wild fish, organic poultry and lean meat, legumes, quinoa, nuts and seeds and eggs. Take dairy in lesser amounts; it’s mucus forming, so not helpful if you have a phlegmy cough or a cold.
Make sure you have plenty of veggies, fruits, good fats from oily fish, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds too for maximum nutrition. And a variety of whole grains in moderation, especially if you’re managing weight.
Garlic and onions are known to have antibacterial and anti-viral properties.
Cut down the sugar as it’s been shown to reduce infection-fighting. Really.
Drink plenty of filtered water, fruit and herb teas to stay hydrated.
If you’re concerned that your diet is below par, you could supplement with Vitamin C and a good multi vitamin and mineral for winter wellness. Check with your doctor or pharmacist first. Buy the best you can afford as cheap ones are made with cheap fillers and ingredients your body can’t easily absorb.
Have Echinacea at Home
Echinacea is a good to have at home. I buy a good quality tincture from a health store and take it as per instructions at the slightest sign of a sniffle AND when anyone near and dear is poorly.
Echinacea is a herb widely used to fight infections, especially colds and flu. It’s generally easy to find and comes as a tincture, tablets or juice.
Always buy the best you can afford and avoid “standardised” herbs, as they are not the best quality.
Echinacea seems to activate chemicals in the body that reduce inflammation, which might reduce cold and flu symptoms.
It can be pretty tough to get motivated when it’s cold and dark, I know. I’d love to hibernate like a big, old bear, but I try not to.
The good news is your body has to work overtime to get warm, so you can burn more energy when it’s a bit chilly.
If it’s too cold and dark outside, go to the gym, find an exercise class, visit the local pool or do an exercise DVD in the comfort of your own home.
Find yourself a buddy to keep you motivated.
Take Homeopathic Aconite
Homeopaths believe that the remedy Aconite can help “nip things in the bud”.
Take it at the first sign of a tickle in the throat or a sniffle.
You can easily buy this online (I use Helios Pharmacy), on the High Street or at health stores. Buy 30c strength and take up to 8 times daily. If just may keep lurgy at bay.
There are other homeopathic remedies for supporting coughs, colds and flu. Always consult a qualified homeopath.
Get Plenty of Zeds
Regular sleep is really important for winter wellness. Don’t let yourself get run down if you want to stay fit and healthy. People who aren’t well rested are much more likely to get sick.
So no burning your candle at both ends, please. And if you need some help sleeping check out these tips.
If you do become ill, don’t be tempted to carry on regardless. Resting will help you heal quicker AND prevent further spread of germs.
Use Essential Oils
Get some essential oils into your life to help keep your immune system stronger and reduce the risk of the winter blues striking.
If you are pregnant, you will need to be careful which oils to use and should always check with a qualified aromatherapist before using them.
And never use them neat on the skin – only Lavender is suited for that.
Now, I’m no aromatherapist so I buy blends, mostly.
Organic Defence blend is fab from Neals Yard and is aimed at warding off coughs and colds. You can use it as an inhalation or in a diffuser or even use it to clean surfaces.
Or a great immune-boosting, winter wellness blend to use in a diffuser is 2 or 3 drops each of cinnamon, thyme, rosemary and lemon. You could also sprinkle these oils onto a cotton hankie and carry in a plastic bag in your handbag for when you need a quick lift during the day.
To give me a lift or boost of energy when I’m flagging I choose this little roll on aromatherapy blend.
Slather On Moisturiser
The needs of your skin changes with the weather and seasons. You may need a heavier duty moisturiser in winter to prevent skin chapping and drying out.
Don’t forget your luscious lips either. Buy yourself a good, natural lip balm.
And finally your hands – make sure they stay soft and supple with a lovely hand cream. My addiction to Orange and Geranium is now legendary.
Hint, it’s almost Christmas Mr P *winks*
Get Some Natural Cough Syrup
I know some people that make their own cough mixtures and syrups. I’m not one of them. I buy a good natural one. At the moment I have a Potters herbal one in the cupboard.
I am also going to buy some Eucalyptus Pastilles and Elderberry Throat Spray from Neals Yard, but I haven’t tried them, so can’t speak for them just yet.
Make Like The Danes
Practice hygge – said “hue-gah”. It’s an art-form, a way of being. It’s basically about enjoying the everyday and making the little things in life special and memorable. Kinda like mindfulness with knobs on.
It’s cold and dark a lot of the year for the Danes, so this attitude makes them one of the happiest nations on earth.
So get some fresh flowers and foliage from the garden, make a lovely cuppa in your fave china cup, light a candle and snuggle up. That’s hygge.
And I hope you thrive this winter, rather than just survive it. With my own top tips for winter wellness.
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