Winter is the time that we are bombarded with advertisements to buy flu vaccinations and a myriad of other types of symptomatic medications in the hope that we will not contract colds and flus, or if we do succumb that we can pop a pill and feel no pain, no need to rest, no need for preventative health, just carry on regardless.
Of course, if we fall seriously ill then these types of medications are very helpful. However, many influenza mortalities are not directly from influenza, they can often be from contracting pneumonia or other types of illnesses after the body has been weakened by the influenza. SO, a much more sensible option in the long run would be to build ourselves up ready for winter with good nutrition, the right amount of sleep, a strong immune system and energy to resist infectious diseases to cope easily with a cold or flu should we get one.
Since I started taking better care of my health in my mid 20s I rarely get a cold or flu and very rarely contract anything that puts me to bed. Before this I would suffer, every winter, from severe tonsillitis that would put me in bed for days at a time (I eventually realised I needed to wear a scarf to keep my neck warm, stop smoking and look after myself at this time, duh!).
If I do feel like I’m coming down with something then a quick trip to our well stocked, natural remedies dispensary and some good rest always knocks it on the head. If my daughter starts to sneeze or cough I keep her at home for a day or two and fill her full of good things until she is better. She doesn’t get ill often either. You may say this is due to luck, I say its because I have worked hard to keep her healthy, even before and during my pregnancy. This includes being a nasty Mummy and saying no to things like coke and sweets. Click here to see the health effects of sugar.
One weekend at an Expo in the middle of winter we had to set up our stand in an icy cold draught. I felt my self coming down with a terrible cold. I was at a loss what to do, normally I would take vitamins and herbs and rest to help my immune system do its thing. I never take pain killers for minor things, or cold or flu medications, though I used to suffer terribly from migraines which again would lay me out for days causing me to drop headache pills like lollies- guess what… not any more, not since I changed my lifestyle!
I couldn’t be on our stand for the next three days sneezing and coughing and feeling terrible. What a disaster! So I swallowed my anti pharmaceutical attitude, went to the chemist and got some “symptomatic relief” (as its so aptly called). I also took a lot of Vitamin C, Zinc and some immune herbs at the same time. By the time the Expo was over and I stopped taking the “symptomatic relief” my cold had gone. The point I am making is that nothing is an absolute golden bullet. At all times we have to assess the situation and what tools are available to us (without having a set idea of what’s good or not) choosing the appropriate solution with an open mind.
While I don’t habitually take pharmaceutical relief for the symptoms of a cold or flu, in that particular situation it was necessary as I was unable to rest, nurture myself and let the cold do its thing. I had to be present and work hard for two days. The difference was that I also took care of myself so that my body could kick the cold, rather than just taking the “symptomatic relief” while running myself into the ground.
My favourite way of keeping healthy all year round and especially throughout winter is Yoga. It has so many benefits, one of which is helping to keep the immune system healthy. Studies have shown that exercising too much can actually compromise the immune system possibly leaving you more succeptible to colds and flus click here to read a previous blog on this. A balanced Yoga practice contains the right mix of asanas (physical exercises), relaxation, breathing and meditation. This has been found by numerous research studies to stimulate and strengthen the body without causing stress.
A daily practice of Utthita Virabdrasana flow is an enjoyable way to keep fit and healthy this winter. I am teaching this flow in my classes at the moment, so what are you waiting for? Treat yourself to some Yoga classes over the winter months and see the difference it can make to your overall health, beginner’s 5 week courses start this week.