Two Weird Ways to Not Get Sick
A patient commented recently that I must have “super immunity” because I manage to not need to miss work for illness very often. As the weather shifts from winter to spring, the rapid fluctuations often bring seasonal colds and flus. I wanted to share a few simple ways (one or two of which might be surprising) that help me stay well.
1. Sleep. This tip is boring but important. Getting enough rest and being mindful of how I’m feeling (which helps me adjust my activity level and eating habits) helps me stay healthy year round. Especially as we move from winter (the season of deep rest) to spring (one of the most active seasons of the year), I encourage you to take this time to build up your sleep stores.
2. Water. Another boring tip but it’s true! I start each day with 16-32 oz of warm water. Usually I end up drinking about 26-32 oz (two big glasses). The warm water is much easier to stomach for me than cold or even room temperature water. Warm water is soothing for the stomach, which is slightly warmer than the rest of you in Chinese Medicine, like a little cooking pot. Staying fluid, especially if you take the time to hydrate in the morning, will help you stay healthy.
3. The Simple SCARF! This tip is my surprise secret weapon. If you see me around, I’m almost always wearing a scarf. Besides helping you feel cozy, scarves help protect the nape of your neck. In Chinese Medicine, pathogens (like viruses) enter through the nose, the mouth, and the back of the neck. Have you ever gotten a bad flu and had neck stiffness? That’s classic pathogen penetration. While it’s impractical to cover your mouth or nose, it’s easy wear a scarf, especially in the cold or in the springtime--which is the season of wind in Chinese Medicine. Wind carries pollen, pathogens, and viruses!
4. Cut Out Sugar. Most of us know that bacteria THRIVE on sugar. Sugar is the simplest most direct fuel, which is why it takes you up to the sky then crashing back down. Minimizing sugar and sweet things (like juice or smoothies) will help to starve off bacteria and viruses, giving them less fuel to proliferate and reproduce. The exceptions might be a little bit of raw honey (to soothe a sore throat) or things like elderberry or elderberry syrup, which have antibacterial properties and which can be helpful in fighting inflammation.
If you do end up with a cold or even the flu, don’t despair. It’s actually NORMAL and natural for the body to get sick periodically. It’s another way of purging and resetting.
Happy Season Shift.