The first wealth is health. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
In the middle of back-to-school, fall (and then winter) sports, and the holiday season, the last thing you want is to come down with a case of the flu or a bad cold. And yet this season is flu season for a reason, probably because the change in weather and the overwhelming stress we put ourselves through knocks out our immune system so that we’re susceptible to just about anything that comes around. But there are some steps you can take to boost your immune system and stave off the sicknesses that will invariably come home from school with your kids, at least better than without these steps. We can’t promise that you won’t get sick, but with a boosted immune system you’re less likely to get sick and if you do get sick, it won’t stick around for such a long time. Some of these tips are just good, common sense (don’t sit outside for a while without a jacket if it’s 50 degrees out) and some of them might take some work; trust us, anything you can do now helps. Your body (and family!) will thank you later!
Tips for an Immune System Boost
Get Enough Sleep
We can’t stress how important it is to get enough sleep. Sleeping is your body’s (and your mind’s) way of recovering from the day and preparing for the day ahead, and being chronically sleep-deprived is one of the easiest ways to ensure you most likely will catch that bug that’s going around the preschool this week.
Cut Down on Stress
While some, short-term stress can actually be good for you, chronic-stress is an immune system killer. Find ways to manage your stress and, separately, find ways to relax. Laughing has also been proven to help boost your immune system - no joke.
You don’t have to be a health nut to incorporate healthy foods in your diet. By spending just a little more time in the kitchen and knowing a few immune-system powerhouses (like garlic, tea, and chicken noodle soup), you can be well on your way to a healthier flu season.
Again, no need to go overboard - getting a little exercise, even just a brisk walk through the neighborhood, a few times a week can drastically improve your chances of staying healthy. Park at the farthest end of the parking lot. Pick up a yoga class or two. Anything will help.
Enjoy in Moderation
If you enjoy adult beverages, make sure you enjoy them from time-to-time and not all the time. Moderation is key; over-consumption is unhealthy in so many ways and can negatively impact your body’s ability to fight off viruses.
On the other hand, if you’re a smoker, finding ways to cut back or, ideally, to quit (and the sooner the better) can be one of the healthiest moves you make. There are plenty of quitting aids out there, but even just cutting back can be a big help.
What To Do If (or When) You Do Catch That Bug
Try as you might, chances are you won’t escape catching at least one bug this cold season. What then?
- Get as much sleep as possible.
- Wash your hands before interacting with others (and especially before preparing food; have someone else do it if you can, but if not, keep things as sanitary as possible).
- Drink a lot of fluid (water is better but fresh juice can be good too).
- Check in with your doctor if you have a fever, if you don’t start to feel better soon, or if your symptoms are more serious than a cold or flu would warrant.
- If your symptoms are above the neck, it might help to get little bit of exercise - a brief walk around the block, for instance. But if it’s making you feel worse, or your symptoms are below the neck (upset stomach, body aches and pains), hold off on the exercise until you’re feeling better. You need to conserve your energy for healing.