This could also be entitled, "How to Survive the Holiday Season"...
Wow! This blast really has it feeling like winter in these parts...but we have a few more weeks to go. After a blissful summer of the kids home and germs at bay, along came the school year and sugar-laden holidays to really give our immune systems a wake up call. After my favorite green-eyed prince brought me home the gift of sniffles and a cough, I thought it would be the appropriate time for a little inspiration to keep your immune systems ready for the season.
Parents all see it. This picture of the sweetest thing you know, curled up in your arms. A little sad. A little cuddly. A whole lotta sick. It just breaks your heart. It is a great time to teach us all to slow down and bring comfort to someone we love. No matter how long I live, I am not sure that there is an appropriate time on the calendar to start my onslaught of immune enhancing herbs, tinctures and potions to keep us all germ free. Something is always gonna sneak in...but, that is kind of a good thing!
Illness strengthens us. It builds up those beautiful antibodies in our systems that make us stronger the next go-round. While it is a bit harder for someone with chronic illness to make it through a simple cold...for most of us, embracing the cold and flu season (and allergy season as well) can be a benefit to our system and that of our children.
We have somehow become afraid of illness. Yes, it is inconvenient and uncomfortable. It will always hit when we have a holiday or big plans. It is kind of like having a baby. You never know when it's gonna happen...but it will. And when it does it is going to change your life. (But, hopefully just for a day or two and not in the same way that baby shakes things up!)
Below are my tips and tricks. Take what you want. Leave what you will. Mix it up. While I love my herbs and vitamins, juicing and acupuncture...sometimes a good ole-fashioned trip to the doctor may be what we need. Our care providers are there to get us going again...but, these are some great preventative tricks to help you gain a little trust in your body's ability to heal itself.
Go, go, go! I hear ya. Have you seen my calendar lately? Color coded, pages tabbed, list after list. (Yes, I still have a paper calendar.) It seems as the holidays approach we try to jam pack everything in. Our brains all start rattling at all of the things we need to do and all the commerce we need to start engaging in to get to the next year. Then it hits you. Puts you in your place and says, "This can all wait, because you need to take care of you!"
So, I encourage you to make space. Leave some wiggle room in your calendar for an hour a day, a chunk of a day or even a whole day per week to dedicate to your mind and body. Not only does this help your body to recover from all the rushing around...it also sets a good example of self-care for your kids. You are a better care-provider if you are cared for.
And, when it comes to the littles. Don't budge on bedtimes. Stick to your guns. They need all those precious hours of sleep for their bodies to recover from all the learning, growing and antibodies that their selves are creating as well.
That old adage, "Sleep when the baby sleeps"...well, that might apply at any age. Getting your shut eye will help your body to recover from your daily stresses as well. I go to bed when my kids go to bed. Go ahead, call me an old lady. My favorite parties now are pajama parties.
Mmmm! Pumpkin, cranberries, chocolate, turkey, cheesy potatoes, dairy, sugar, overstuffed, tired, depleted, yuck. Sound like the typical progression? Add in some jolly singing and lots of glitter and family and you can round out the holidays.
Moderation people. Moderation. I love me some sugar. But, what is even better is being able to smell it and taste it. If you are all stuffy or runny you can't enjoy it as much. Dairy increases your mucus production. Sugar depletes the immune and adrenal system. We just overloaded our bodies with immune depressants.
But, you know the benefit of all those good tastes and smells...the spices! Better known in my world as herbs; all that rosemary, sage and thyme. Yep, they build your immune system! The fresher the better. Pile all those on and make your home smell amazing and your meal a little more healthy.
And don't forget the greens! I try to make everyone's plate a colorful one. Each color brings a different set of vitamins to the table. It isn't always about 1 fruit, 1 vegetable, 1 protein, etc. Select a rainbow of nutrients for everyone at the table.
Yes. The essential element of life. We tend to push it to the side when Starbuck's announces the release of it's first new flavor in years.
Egg nog. Champagne. All great and tasty options but, did you get in your allotment of water for the day?
Do you know how to calculate how much you need? Take your body weight, divide it in half. That is the minimum in ounces of water you should have a day.
Does water bore you? Throw in some lemon slices and a sprig of mint. Apples and cucumber also make great flavored waters. Just get it in.
Keep in mind if you are a caffeine lover...it dehydrates you. So, add in some extra water for every cup of joe that calls to you.
Traveling, under the weather, expectant or nursing...you need some extra water too!
It isn't very often that I can escape for a healthy bath. My children always want to climb in too. I like to think of it as intuition. Not only do they want the benefit of some lovely momma-cuddles-oxytocin time, they know that my bath is good for them. What's in it? Usually about 4 cups of Epsom salt and an essential oil concoction for what I am needing. Peace and rest...I'll opt for lavender or sandalwood. I actually put these things in their baths every time as well. The salt will help to soothe achy muscles as well as draw out impurities. Another bath I love is for cold season is Dr. Singha's Mustard Bath. This favorite has eucalyptus, rosemary, wintergreen and thyme...talk about opening up a stuffy head and keeping you healthy. Dr. Singha to the rescue!
Whatever it is...do it! I'm just as guilty as you. But, remember that chunk of time I asked you to create to care for yourself? Maybe it is a yoga class. A walk on a brisk morning. Hang upside down on the monkey bars with the kids. Maybe you are a marathon runner anyway. Make time to move! It helps your lymphatic system to circulate and increases oxygen flow.
Herbs, Vitamins and Other Wonders of Nature
This is natures prescription for rounding out your healthy diet. These products are my faves in general, but particularly for surviving the colds and flus...and holidays. For our nursing or expectant mommas, all of these will help to build your immune system as well as baby's. So feel free to include any or all of these to build you both up!
Probiotics to nourish your digestive system. The colon has been called the second brain because it houses more neurotransmitters than your brain. A healthy gut=A healthy brain. Also, when you are indulging in that delectable spread, throw in some digestive aids to help your body process it all.
Colostrum. It isn't just for body builders. Seriously. Body builders are starting to pay big money for baby's earliest form of nutrition. That is because it is amazing! It isn't just for babies though. You can find bovine colostrum in powder or chewable forms that can get you through some illnesses. It is gentle and building.
Magnesium helps so many things. Remember number 1...sleep. Yes, it helps with that. Stress. Heart health. Elimination. Sore muscles. Go with that!
Elderberry can be found as capsules or syrups. It is my go-to for cold season with the kids. Other immune stimulants to try out are Oregon Grape, Olive Leaf and Grapefruit Seed Extract. Rotate through these options this season and reap all the benefits. You may even be able to save those "sick days" for "mental health days" in the spring.
Practitioners to the Rescue
You may have a family doctor that you love. But, how often do they help you prevent illnesses? Usually we go and see them to help pull us back from the edge of the world when we are under the weather or for general checkups. Although, there are a host of practitioners out there that can help prevent illness. I cannot say enough great things about chiropractic, acupuncture and massage and/or energy work. Take advantage of these talented folks...they may even help you manage your emotions as well. Many illnesses are actually manifestations of our emotional baggage...and speaking of that...
Maybe it is the money. Maybe it is the guilt. Maybe it is the overwhelming need to impress friends, family and strangers. In the end, it all boils down to stress.
This can be the most wonderful time of the year. But, it doesn't have to include the germs, depleted immune systems and emotional turmoil. Allow yourself, and others, the opportunity to let their hair down. Care for one another. Give each other permission to be the beautiful messes that we all are.
In that hour per day that you are setting aside to care for your body. Journal. Freely write about all the emotions that are flooding you. Put all those stressors on paper...and let it go. This simple act can get the emotions out of your head and off your shoulders. A lighter load is easier to carry.
It is no surprise that the time of year that we generally skip our healthy routines, opt for heavy foods, overbook our schedules and stress about the extra out pour of money tends to be the most unhealthy time of year. Making the most of our holidays (also known as cold and flu season) can be easy if we take care of ourselves first. In the end we all want a safe place to slow down and just be. Care for yourself and family. Build up your immune system. Find the balance that is right for you. Reach out to practitioners and work on preventing illness. Drink your water.
Make space... then fill it with all the love you can.