For many, winter is a refreshing time of year that they enthusiastically wait for including me. The cold and crisp temperatures, the beautiful blankets of snow covering the earth, the festivities with family and friends, and the anticipation of a brand new year right around the corner is all so exciting. Unfortunately, along with all of these great things, colds and the flu are also rampant. You might feel yourself surrounded by people coughing and sneezing. It can often feel like germs surround you anywhere you go this time of year, but by boosting your immune system, you'll be less susceptible to catching those colds.
Here are a few of my favorite and natural ways to boost my immune system during the colder months...
Rest and relax. Winter is a time to reflect. During wintertime, the days are shorter and there is more darkness for a good reason, so we can reflect and take time to restore our energy for the bounty of spring. When we ignore nature’s queues to slow down, it’s easy to get run down emotionally and physically. Take time to relax, watch a movie, read a novel, get lost in a hobby or sip on some delicious tea or hot chocolate. It’s good for your body but wonderful for your soul.
Eat whole and local. Yes, I know I sound like a broken record when I keep writing about eating whole foods, especially locally- sourced, but this practice is best for maximum nutrients, flavor, and freshness. For big flavors that boost immunity, make sure you cook with immunity-strengthening items like garlic, onions, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Eating plant-based whole foods diet can be healing to the body.
Vitamins C and D to the rescue. Popping a vitamin is not my first choice and you can get ample supplies of vitamin C by eating citrus fruits, bell peppers, dark green vegetables, and berries. They’re all excellent sources of vitamin C. Even with the cold weather the sun still offers vitamin D and it's important to get outside in the sun for a few minutes each day, preferably in the morning when the sun will put to sleep your melatonin and raise your serotonin levels making you feel good. A short sunbath on your face is a great way to get the vitamin D your body needs. Plus, a few minutes of fresh air always boosts your mood and energy levels!
Stay hydrated. Have you ever found yourself not drinking water in the winter because you’re too cold? I have and found myself completely dehydrated. When our bodies are dehydrated, it’s much easier for us to become susceptible to illnesses and your skin gets drier making your look older. You can always add a wedge of lemon to give it more flavor, plus you’ll get more vitamin C -- a win-win. If water isn’t the answer for you then boil some water, put in a thermos with your favorite caffeine free tea and you have warm tea all day.
Lie down and get some sleep. In a society that tends to run themselves ragged, take the time to get your rest and rejuvenate. You’ll be less likely to get sick if you sleep 7 to 8 hours a night, even if you come into contact with the people that are battling an illness. Sweet dreams!
Stay active. Exercise is one of the best ways to benefit your body overall, but it also helps keep your immune system strong. Even if you only have time for a 10-minute walk after lunch, take it. It will help your body fight off illness. Yoga, restorative yoga, Tai Chi, HIIT, weightlifting or just brisk walks in the park are all brilliant ways to get moving.
Reduce your chances of being bed-ridden by being proactive about your health right now! No one likes getting sick but with the ideas above, you’re on your way to a healthy winter.