- Dr. Brittany Long
Avoid "the Plague" this Cold and Flu Season
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
No one likes to have to be sick (obviously) and there are SO MANY things we can implement on a daily basis to prevent colds/flus and generally getting sick. Below are a small lis of simple and effective items to help avoid getting sick. Try out a few, or try them all out and see what kind of difference some simple self-care techniques can make in your health during this cold and flu season.
Get plenty of sleep – this might seem like a “duh” recommendation, but sleep is INCREDIBLY important for our immune system. Studies show that 7-9 hours a night is ideal. I know. It seems like a lot but especially with the shorter daylight hours and colder temperatures, your body needs the extra rest.
Furthermore, practice good sleep hygiene – again, we’ve all heard this but just because you are sleeping for 7-9 hours doesn’t mean you’re necessarily getting the most restful sleep. To encourage THE BEST SLEEP EVER the following tactics have shown positive results:
Avoid screens (phones, TVs, computers, etc.) for at least 30 minutes, if not for 1 full hour before bed
Do something relaxing before going to sleep. This could be taking a bath, taking a hot shower, drinking a cup of soothing tea (nothing with caffeine people!), meditating, doing yoga, doing some gentle stretches, reading a book or anything else that relaxes you and avoids screens.
Make sure your room is dark -- black out curtains can be great to accomplish this but you can string a sheet over your window as well.
Make sure your room is cool -- aim for 64-69 degrees when you are sleeping).
Make sure your room is quiet. If your room is inherently loud because of where it or your house/apartment/condo is located, consider having a sound machine that will play soothing sounds – these are better than the traffic/people related sounds you might otherwise be hearing. I don’t really recommend wearing ear plugs or shoving something under your door jam to help drown out sounds because though you are supposed to be sleeping, in case you do need to wake up quickly I don’t want to have suggested something that will impede that process.
Exercise often– It is recommended to aim for 30-60 minutes a day 5-7 days a week. Exercise not only encourages optimal heart, lung, muscle and skeletal health but also plays a key role in your immune system through improving lymphatic flow (lymph is what carries your red and white blood cells as well as toxins and metabolic byproducts around your body). There was a new study also recently published (for all you research lovers) that showed that not exercising might actually be worse for our health than smoking, having high blood pressure or having diabetes…yikes. If you’d like to read the study click here. For a brief synopsis of the study, click here.
Drink plenty of water – it might seem like again this is a basic recommendation but I am always surprised by the number of individuals who don't drink enough water each day! General recommendations are to drink at least half your body weight in ounces each day (and even more if you are exercising currently/are about to add it in). It might seem like a lot but try to work up to this number, whatever it may be – I promise your body will thank you with improved health.
Focus on whole foods – One of the most important things to avoid getting sick this season, along with all these other items is focusing on wholesome nutrition! What you put in your mouth does make a huge impact as the components of that food you just ingested will be what your body builds and repairs itself with. So if you're consuming a lot of highly processed foods with lots of sugar, fillers, chemicals and a whole bunch of other gunk then you're not really giving your body, particularly your immune system, to work with.
Manage your stress – again, I know, it seems overstated and cliché at this point, but it is SO IMPORTANT and that is why you are hearing so much about stress management recently. Stress encourages the release of cortisol (along with other stimulatory hormones) which act to suppress your immune system. Easy stress management techniques that you can complete at home include yoga, meditation, gentle stretching, breathing techniques.
Practice simple, effective hygiene techniques – again, a simple but effective way to reduce using your PTO/missing school/missing out on activities due to illness. It is recommended to wash your hands often with a gentle cleanser and warm/hot water for 30-45 seconds when you have come into contact with surfaces outside your home before you touch your mouth, nose or eyes. It is also recommended to wash your hands in the same manner after sneezing, cough, touching your mouth or nose, whether you are sick or not. If you don’t have access to a sink a natural antimicrobial hand sanitizer is a valid option as well.
Honest Co. and Mrs. Meyer’s are two great brands that are alcohol-free and natural products that can be just as effective as alcohol-based “typical” hand sanitizers.
o If you find your hands become extra dry during the winter season from all the hand-washing and hand sanitizer use shea butter, argan oil/butter and all-purpose salves can be hand hydrating options to keep with you. Burt’s Bee’s, and Wise Woman Herbals are two great brands to choose from – always pick organic!
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If you would like more tried and true methods to avoid the cold/flu/general illness this winter season, schedule an appointment with Dr. Brittany Long today!
*DISCLAIMER: This document is not intended to treat or diagnose disease. Before implementing any new treatment protocols be sure to consult with a licensed physician. The author has nothing to disclose in regards to supplements or products mentioned within this document and the author does not receive any monetary or other incentives to mention the recommended supplements or products.