It’s that time of year again! We bundle ourselves against the cold and then enter warm office buildings that have been practically hermetically sealed against the elements. Windows that open to allow warm air and the scent of flowers to waft into your cubicle are now shut tight for the winter, preventing arctic winds from freezing you.
Which is a good thing – ever try to type with frozen fingers? But the downside to this protective measure is that it also seals in everybody’s germs. So now, instead of breathing in the sweet scent of freesia, you’re breathing in viruses, bacteria and other assorted contagious elements.
Here’s where it gets really mindboggling… Every time one of your colleagues sneezes, potentially infectious aerosol droplets are expelled at the rate of about 95 miles per hour. If they have the good sense to cover their nose and mouth while sneezing, you’re still dangerously exposed to their cooties because unless they go immediately to the restroom and wash their hands vigorously (at least 20 seconds), they’re going to touch the same computer keys, file cabinets, desk drawers, door knobs and telephones that you do… and you’ll just pick up their germs, lickety-split, directly from there.
So how can you get through cold and flu season? Better yet, how can you do so naturally? Try the following healthy tricks and practices to stay as healthy as you can even when you are surrounded by sick people.
Wash you hands well and often. As noted above, direct dermal contact will bring infection home. The minute you touch your mouth, nose or eyes with infected fingers, it’s the beginning of the end of your flu-free days. Viruses can live up to two days outside the body. You may want to take along a hand sanitizer for times when there’s no sink in sight. And, a thin dab of Vaseline on the inside of the nose will help to keep you from inhaling germs in crowded spaces.
Consume antioxidant rich foods
Eat a balanced diet with lots of leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, brussel sprouts) that are rich in antioxidants to help fight infection. Some red foods like apples, red onions, berries and red wine contain quercetin, an antioxidant, which has been found to lessen flu symptoms. And don’t forget the old stand by chicken soup… Studies prove that some elements in the chicken fat that comprises the soup help speed your recovery from a cold. Plus, warm liquids are soothing when you’ve got that aching-bone feeling from the flu.
Healthy visualization can actually improve your immune response. Imagine yourself feeling well. You’re running on the white sands of a beach as turquoise waters lap at your feet. The sun is shining and your muscles are moving fluidly as your body moves. You’re feeling great! (Okay, you’re not. You feel like you’ve just eaten a lawn mower. But just pretend you’re in a better place…) When you imagine the sickness leaving your body and dissipating into the ethers, your brain gives your body that message and you will actually feel better… at least for awhile.
Homeopathic remedies are excellent for fighting colds. Try Echinacea and Goldenseal at the first signs of a sore throat or fever. For sinus problems, use Ocean (a saline solution) to keep your nasal membranes moist. For coughs, mix lemon juice with honey in warm water. Try drinking teas: Licorice root is excellent for upper respiratory infections (though it can temporarily thin the blood), and both chamomile and peppermint teas are great for stomach ailments. Some folks swear by their hot toddies (a little alcohol mixed with Earl Grey?) to get them through the worst of the cold – presumably by being too sleepy to care!
If you have a loved one who is willing to give you a massage, now is the time to seek this gift of wellness. Using warm oils, a body massage can do wonders for your overall feeling, tapping into your Qi and giving your muscles some much-needed love. Essential oils used in conjunction with a massage or a bath (lavender, pine, eucalyptus, rosemary), can also help clear congestion.
There are numerous acupressure spots on your head, limbs and body that will alleviate cold symptoms. Keep a book in your home library for times like this so that you (or your massage partner) can literally tap into the benefits of acupressure.
And finally, bear in mind that colds and flu will pass in about a week. You will eventually return to your daily routine without much need for tissues, comfort food or nose strips. So, drink lots of water, get plenty of rest and try to keep your germs to yourself.
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