Keep the malaise at bay
It seems like everywhere I turn, someone is mentioning how they just got over being sick, or their kid is sick, or their spouse is sick....The flu and a variety of other maladies seem to be wreaking havoc on everyone I know this winter. Being sick is crummy enough, but being sick and having to care for a sick child at the same time, well there should be an award for that, as that is no small feat. So while this winter season seems to be particularly bad in terms of illnesses, and we can't totally avoid it, there are some things we can do proactively to try to keep the germs from entering our stratosphere. I am all about taking extra Vitamin C doses, drinking warm tea, and getting to bed early at the slightest hint of a cold. My husband laughs at me about this, and maybe it is all in my head (but do you want to guess which one of us gets sick more often?) Research indicates that mental health and physical health have strong correlations. Therefore, taking care of our mental health, can improve our physical health and help us avoid illnesses. Physical exhaustion can impact our immune systems (check out this article). Being a parent, exhaustion is almost inevitable, but it is crucial to try and get at least a decent amount of sleep to tackle the everyday stresses, so your body doesn't get run down. Eating well is another important proactive strategy to help avoiding getting sick. I recently met with a nutritionist, Samantha Walters, RDN, LDN from Nourish who gave me some great ideas on quick and easy ways to substitute things in my diet for foods that will give me more energy and keep me fuller longer. This is already helping improve the quality of my sleep, so there-I killed two birds with one stone! Staying active can decrease stress and in turn, help protect your immune system (Psychology of the Common Cold). So, find some ways to get active, even if it's just a short workout or a walk around the block. These are pretty basic elements of self-care and staying healthy. The tricky thing is, they all take time and energy and once you're already sick, that means they are even harder to implement. Staying proactive about managing your time to allow space in your life to take care of yourself is crucial to staying healthy, mentally and physically. If you have trouble figuring out what things to say 'no' to and how to not over-commit, think about whether you actually want to do said activity AND whether you have space in your life for it. (Check out this great article on Saying No!). If you leave space to take care of yourself, you may just avoid the dreadful illnesses floating around this winter. And even if you do all this and still get sick, it's still important to take care of yourself, in order to heal quickly. It's important to slow down and rest! Stay healthy out there.