How to NOT get sick this winter!

 

Basically we are animals. We are part of nature and our lives should be in harmony with the turning of the seasons. We can learn a lot by observing what is happening outside. Think about the inherent wisdom of animals and how they build up their reserves in the fall to get through the winter – the squirrel stock piling nuts or the bear making sure she has enough body fat to hibernate for the winter. Maybe your grandparents used to put up food and do canning.

How are your own personal energy reserves? Do you have enough reserved energy that your body’s immune system can respond if it is challenged? Most of us are out in the world and exposed to germs: some of us catch colds or get the flu and others don’t. There are habits you can adopt that will help you optimize your health so you don’t get sick or are able to move things through quickly. The best time to build your immune system is when you’re NOT sick. You simply can’t do it when you’re ill. So let’s talk about Wellness Care. 

Here are some simple ideas for prevention:

  • Wash your hands often! The best way to wash your hands is with running water and soap. Rub your hands together to make alather and continue scrubbing them for 20 seconds. Hint: if you don’t have a clock nearby you can sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself twice from beginning to end.

  • “Don’t self inoculate” by touching your face as that is how pathogens (bacteria or viruses) get introduced into our system. They use the mucous membranes of our eyes, nose or mouth, as entry points.

  • Dress appropriately -When it gets cold outside, our bodies have to compensate to keep our temperature even. It is better to dress in layers (including socks and a hat) and keep some of that heat in. Otherwise it is like turning the furnace on and having the windows open – it’s a waste of energy.
  • Wear a scarf or hood especially on cold or windy days – in Chinese medicine there are many important immune system acupuncture points on the back of your neck and upper shoulders, and you want to protect them and not let the wind or cold move in.
  • Eat vegetables that are in season. The basic message of seasonal eating is to balance your body’s internal climate with the external climate. That’s why when it’s colder outside we’re drawn to warming soup and when it’s hot outside we love to eat melons and salads. Right now there’s beautiful produce at the farmers market….squash, potatoes, other root vegetables, kale, leeks, onions, and garlic.
  • Start making soups, eat cooked vegetables and cut back on salads. This is a hard one for many people, as they equate salad with being healthy. Your body uses energy to process cold food. Eating salad when it is cold outside is like putting wet wood into your wood stove.

  • Slow down, reduce your activities, and try to go to bed a little earlier. Daylight is reduced so it’s natural that our bodies want to slow down and get a little extra sleep.

  • Take medicinal mushrooms on a  daily basis to keep your “fortress” strong. My favorite brand is Host Defense. I usually recommend Stamets 7 for prevention and Mycommunity if you’re fighting something off. We stock capsules and tinctures in the office or you can pick them up in the online store. 

What to do if you feel like you are fighting something off:

Pay attention to how are you feeling. Many of you already do this everyday. Others are not so in touch. Common WARNING signals prior to getting sick include:

  • Headache
  • Tight shoulders
  • Tiredness
  • Sore throat
  • Feel cold
  • Dislike being in wind or a draft

If the warning light in your car comes on, you pull over and find out what’s going on. It’s the same principle at work here. If you get a signal like a headache, or you wake up and feel “off,” be ready to respond, by taking action and doing something restorative. Here are a few ideas?

  • Change plans and stay home instead of going out. Often times you are most contagious before you even realize you are sick! Stay home and don’t share your germs. Your friends and family will thank you! 🙂
  • Take a nap. Rest. Got to bed early. Sleep is the best medicine.
  • Sweat it out with a really hot shower or do some moderate exercise. Consider a short jog or riding the stationary bike for 20 minutes to ward it off. Once you break the sweat, it’s important that you bundle up and stay warm.
  • A good first line of defense is homemade ginger and scallion tea. It’s very easy to make. Take 2 pieces of ginger about the size of your thumb and slice them into chunks. Chop up a bundle of scallions including the white and green and even the roots. Add 3-4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Then turn it down and simmer for around 15-20 minutes. Strain and then drink it while it’s hot. You may start to sweat and this is considered beneficial. Keep yourself warm and try to get some rest.

  • Come in and get an acupuncture treatment! An acupuncture treatment can give your immune system a boost and help you NOT get sick, or if you’re already sick it can help reduce the symptoms or move it through your system faster. 

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