Besides summer, I would have to say that fall is my favorite season. The earth - well, to be scientifically correct, my region - is dotted and garnished with my favorite colors- hues of marigolds, rusted oranges, and dusty reds. Sweater weather is officially welcomed (which also means no bra weather). Not to mention that it’s socially acceptable to drink my favorite hot teas all the time.
However, while the upcoming fall season has its perks, it is often synonymous with an influx of flu and colds, which can often set us back and easily drain us and drag negative emotions and energies along with it. During this season, I always make sure to amp up my bodily self care to prevent unwanted germy guests.
Rule 1: Prevention is always better than a cure.
In any aspect of life, if you can prevent an issue before it arises, you are often better off for it. You can often save yourself from the stress, anxiety and extra time that accompanies having to fix a problem that could have easily been dealt with prior- and the same idea goes for your physical health.
Wash your hands. This is probably a step back in time to elementary school days with large germ-illustrated posters plastered around every hallway corner that basically spelled out an equivalent of “wash your hands or you die” in bold lettering. While this message is not quite as aggressive, it still stresses the importance of washing your hands thoroughly for at least 20secs (not 2!) with warm water, which can remove unwanted germs and bacteria.
Keep the ‘ish outta ya life. Stay stress free. Now is a more important time than ever to keep fake friends, drama, and gossip out of your lives. Chronically, high levels of stress can wreak havoc on your immune system. While stress can be good periodically for motivation and the extra push to accomplish your goals, over time constant high levels of stress can actually decrease your immune response ability to protect the body against illness and disease. So, pro tip: keep that external mess to a minimum in order to stay physically, mentally and emotionally healthy this fall/winter season.
Up your fluids. If you’re not getting your gallon a day, now’s the time to really make sure to that you are hydrating your body properly. As we approach cooler weather and without the motivation of scorching temperatures, it is much easier for our bodies to become dehydrated. Water is a necessary part of homeostasis- all our cells and organs need water to perform their functions. It helps the body regulate temperature and allows for the proper circulation of nutrients within the body, which is quite important when trying to prevent pathogens from making your body sick. Now, you don’t quite have to drink a gallon, but drink enough so that your urine is fairly light in color. You can also utilize a calculator to measure a rough estimate of your proper water intake, which can be adjusted to your body’s habits.
Unfortunately, however well prepared we are, life can sometimes get to the best/most prepared of us, leaving us snotty-nosed, cackling/throaty versions of ourselves. For those times, I’ve included a few tips to help make that time shorter and a little bit more bearable.
Take Zinc. At the first sign of a cold, pop in a zinc tablet. Zinc has been shown to reduce the duration of a cold. The minute I feel a tiny tickle in my throat or emit one too many suspicious sneezes, I pop a zinc supplement tablet. Oftentimes, I am able to stop the cold before it starts or have a shortened one or two day cold if I don’t quite catch it in time.
Gargle with saltwater. Sore, itchy throats and congestion are not fun to deal with. Drinking a mixture of warm saltwater can help relieve the sore throat (and make it much easier and less painful to eat nourishing foods while our bodies are trying to repair and heal). Saltwater gargles actually soothe the throat by drawing out extra fluid from the mucus into the throat, which pulls out the virus. I usually mix about ½ a tablespoon with 8 oz of water. Gargle for about 12-20s before spitting it out. Repeat this process 3-4 times.
Eucalyptus steam pot. This is one of my favorite remedies- a little like a spa treatment, a little like a facial, a little like warm torture (it can get quite hot under the towel), but all around great for opening up blocked sinuses. Why eucalyptus? The steam allows the natural mucus in our nasal passages to filter itself out. Steam a pot of water and just add a few drops of the essential oil. Drape a towel over yourself and breath in the vapors for at least 10-15 minutes!
Rest. With all the natural remedies, one of the most important things you can do for your body is rest. Your body is literally built to restore itself to homeostatic equilibrium at times like this- so give it a bit of time to let it do its beautiful, healing magic.
originally published october 2017