This time of year it seems like everyone is getting sick. Colds and flu are prevalent and very contagious. Just as an example, the office that I work in has had a large majority of the workers ill. Some do the right thing and stay home, but others feel they have to come to work, so they in turn expose everyone who is healthy to their dirty germs.
So if this happens to you, how do you stay healthy? How do you keep the dirty little germs away from you, so you don’t take it home to share with your family? And if you do end up getting sick, how do you ensure that it will not be a long lasting illness?
There are many things you can do to keep yourself healthy, and keep the germs away. First things first, you have to boost your own immune system. How can you do this? It is a process, and will not happen overnight, but if you can keep your immune system functioning at its highest level, your body will be better prepared to fight off invading organisms, whether it is viral, or bacterial.
According to the Harvard Medical School these are:
- Eat a healthy diet with a balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains. Try to stay away from processed foods, and watch out for sugar hidden in the food that you eat.
- Exercise regularly, meaning at least 30 minutes of intentional exercise every day.
- Try to maintain your weight at a healthy level.
- Drink only in moderation, and don’t smoke.
- Get enough sleep.
Wash your hands thoroughly, and try not to touch your face. Do this all the time so it becomes habit. Because of you only practice this when you think you are around sick people, it is too late. In many instances, people are contagious when they show no symptoms. So by making it a habit to wash your hands, and refrain from touching your face on a regular basis, you will help to keep yourself healthy.
So now you know the basics of keeping your immune system fully charged, what can you do to prevent yourself from succumbing to the illness that occur around you on a seemingly daily basis? There are several things you can do at home and work to keep yourself healthy, and hopefully not come into contact, or at least lessen the likelihood of getting sick.
While you are at Work
Wipe down your workstation. You never know who was using your stuff when you were away, so have wipes stored at your desk that you can wipe down everything before you get to work. It may seem daunting, but isn’t a few minutes of cleaning worth it to stay healthy?
Keep hand sanitizer at your desk. This is important for those quick in between moments when you remember to wash or sanitize your hands. Since I work in a doctor’s office, this is easy for me. I have a Costco size bottle of hand sanitizer at my desk for everyone to use, and I put it out as a visual reminder for everyone to sanitize your hands when you are standing at my desk.
Don’t share utensils, food, or anything else with your coworkers. This may gross some people out, but I have seen where co-workers share a soda, drink, snack, or even eating utensils. Please don’t! Personally, I think this is disgusting, because I can picture all of the bugs crawling around on someone’s hands because they didn’t wash their hands after stopping at the bathroom. (eeeeewwwww!) But trust me, it happens. So this means I don’t share my snacks that are in bags, like chips, popcorn, etc. And I definitely don’t let people use my coffee cup or drink from my water bottle. But like I said earlier, I have seen people do it.
Keep hand sanitizer in your vehicle, or purse. When you are getting in your car or waiting at the bust stop to go home, don’t forget to clean your hands before starting your car. Because everything you came into contact with on your way out of the building, door handles, light switches, elevator buttons, hand rails, is now being transferred from your work, to your car and potentially into your home. So take a moment and sanitize your hands before driving off.
Separate pair of shoes for home. This may seem odd, but when you are out and about try and think about all of the places the bottoms of your shoes have seen….the bathroom, kitchen, and not to mention even the sidewalks. Do you know what lives on these surfaces? Me neither, so why take that chance of bringing it home with you? Have a pair of shoes reserved for work, and take them off and put on a different pair once you get home.
While you are in your Home
Keep your home clean. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it something simple you can do on a daily basis. Keep your floors clean, take out the trash, do the laundry, dust, and wipe down walls, door knobs, and wall switches. Keep your refrigerator clean, as well as your food prep areas.
Change your bed sheets and pillow cases. Especially when there are germ-ies, but all the time too. Change your sheets weekly, and wash laundry frequently. Don’t wait until there is a mountain of laundry to be done. By staying ahead of the game, and always keeping the dirty laundry in check, you are decreasing the possibility of you coming down with an illness, or spreading it throughout your house.
Air out the home. Although it might be cold, you really should air out your home, even in the winter months. Our homes are so sealed anymore, the air inside of it is basically recirculating, so once a month or so, open the windows, and let in ‘new’ air. Your home will smell better, and it will help to get the stale out of your home.
Change furnace filters monthly. And get the good furnace filters. Filters can function at a antimicrobial level and filter your household air.
Add some humidity. It is easy for viruses to travel if the air is dry, which might account for more illnesses during the dark winter months. But by upping the humidity level in your home, it is harder for the germs to travel. Maybe it weighs them down? Honestly, I have no idea, but I do know that by increasing the humidity in your home does help to keep you healthier. You can use humidifiers, vaporizers, or even boiling water on your stove. But by adding moisture to the air, it will help decrease how easily germs can travel through the air.
But what do you do if you do get sick?
Inevitably, all of your planning and preparing will not be 100% and you will come down with a cold, or get it from a family member. So when it happens, be vigilant to make it a short time of you being down.
Stop the PDA-being in close contact with your spouse or loved one will put you or them at greater risk of getting sick. So even though it is difficult, try and refrain from it. Now in the case of having children, they need the comfort from their parents, especially if they are the ones who are sick. If your babies are sick, hold them and hug them for their comfort, but understand you will probably get sick too. That is unless you have been boosting your immune system, then maybe your body will have a good fighting defense to protect you.
Get plenty of rest. This is not only important to help keep your body functioning well regularly, but it is even more important when you are ill. By resting, or sleeping, your body is busy rebuilding itself, and if you are constantly on the go, your body can’t fight off whatever bug has invaded your system.
Stay hydrated. Warm liquids seem to help a cold, maybe it is the warmth, or the comfort it provides, but the warm liquid also helps to keep everything flowing, this includes when you are congested. Try tea with lemon and honey. You get the added health benefits from the tea itself, and the lemon and honey. But if drinking hot tea is not to your liking, just be sure to drink at least 8 glasses (8oz) of fluid every day, and more when you are fighting a cold. The idea is to flush your body, and increasing the liquids will help you to achieve this. Yes you will be going to the bathroom more, but if it helps to shorten a cold it’s worth it, don’t you think?
Pain relievers. These are important too. They can help to ease the discomfort that often comes along with a cold or flu. Over the counter pain relievers work well, just be sure to follow the instructions on the label. After all, they are medications, and you don’t want to take too much.
Homeopathic Remedies for Sickness
Sometimes you can get incredible relief of cold and flu symptoms with remedies that have been passed down through the generations. For example…
Relieve an earache, heat up salt in a frying pan and put it in an old sock. Hold the hot sock up to your ear (not touching the skin) and the heat will relieve the pressure and pain. The salt holds in a lot of heat, so you get relief for a long period of time.
Rubbing Vicks vapor rub on the soles of your feet. I have no idea of how or why this works, but it really does. It also keeps your feet soft! It may sound silly, and you may doubt that it works, but the next time you get sick give it a try, it won’t hurt anything, and it may make you feel better!
Essential oils are incredible and a wonderful addition to your home remedy cabinet. Do some research though before using them, but you can add them to diffusers, baths, and homemade cleaning products to help keep you healthy as well as shorten the duration of a cold.
Many essential oils have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. My favorites are lavender, lemon, pine, cedar wood, eucalyptus, tea tree, peppermint, and thieves (a blend of essential oils). In order to use the correctly though be sure to learn about them before using them so you will get the best benefit of each individual oil.
To give you an example of how I use essential oils, here is a recipe that I use for a general household cleaner especially in the winter months to help keep the germs away.
Thieves All-Purpose Spray Cleaner
What you will need…
- 1 16oz. Spray bottle with sprayer
- 1 cups warm water
- ½ cup vinegar
- ½ cup isopropyl alcohol
- 2 tsp. dish soap
- 25 drops Thieves essential oil
What you will do…
Add all ingredients to the spray bottle and attach the sprayer. Gently shake the bottle and use as you would any spray cleaner.
I use this on door knobs, countertops, hand rails, in the bathroom……well pretty much everywhere. It works great as an all-purpose cleaner that can be used everywhere in your home.