It’s that time of year…cold and flu season. You need all the help you can get (right now) to hold off as many germs as possible.
Yes, these frustrating and debilitating illnesses happen all year but they really pour on the charm in the fall and winter. As we pull on layers, close up our houses, and spend less time outside, the germs get bold. They think they own the place. They think you’re a wimp.
Germs are bullies.
The only way to deal with these little disasters is to fight back. I know, I know…turn the other cheek and all that is the way I usually conduct my affairs but these things just don’t quit. You have to be tough. You have to be consistent.
You can’t give them so much as an inch or they’ll have you sweating, coughing, and struggling to remain upright for an entire week you don’t have to spare!
The Welcome Sign is Up
Bacteria and viruses love the conditions of our bodies and our homes during the winter. Outside we’re bundled up (as we must be) and end up harboring germs like fugitives as they are sneezed and coughed in our direction.Bacteria & viruses love the conditions of our bodies and our homes during the winter. #FluSeasonClick To Tweet
They hide out, snuggling close in the dry cold (germs breed best and longest around 40 degrees Fahrenheit). Moving from person to person through touch and breath and surfaces.
Then we take them into locations that are dry and warm (homes, offices, restaurants, etc) where we encourage them to really get comfortable. They don’t just make themselves at home, they take over the joint!
No one ever thinks about the outer layers.
If you’re like most people, you wear the same gloves, scarf, and hats for a while before you wash them. Same goes for your outer coat, hoodie, or cardigan. After all, they don’t get “dirty” in the ten minutes between your front door and your car. You’re wearing clothes under them, right?
We pull them off and drop them on the foyer table or corner chair, where they wait to be picked up on the way out again. In the course of your day, you cover your face with your scarf, pull your hat further over your ears, and touch about ten million surfaces with your gloves.
How many of you (having only one free hand) have pulled your other glove off with your teeth? Let that sink in for a minute.
Then there’s your house. Toasty, dry, and with all sorts of nooks and crannies perfect to breed militant bacteria for the cold and flu season.
Dry heat or cold means more shedding of skin (a natural process), chapped lips or hands (very common), and the chance that you’re going to be fully covered (in one way or another) for weeks or months at a time. Skin that gets so dry that it flakes is the perfect entry point for germs and bacteria. [That’s a special side note.]Skin that gets so dry that it flakes is the perfect entry point for germs and bacteria.Click To Tweet
Then there are the carrier monkeys in your life…I mean small children. They’re not noticing the same things their grossed-out parent might so when little Bobby wipes an entire day’s worth of snot on his coat sleeve, they forget all about it when they’re playing tag later and that germ warfare sleeve is what your little angel grabs as Bobby runs by.
Unless you work in a packed environment, kids will beat you every time in the germ exposure competition. They’re icky by design…the other little kids are icky…and they all get together and swap the stuff the adults at home are never going to be able to fight off.
Because adults have almost no chance against kid cooties. Their immune systems are almost always stronger (especially if you let your child get dirty like kids are supposed to).
Less time spent outside means less fresh air and less sunshine (or none at all if you have weeks of clouds). That drops your own immunity a little more.
Then there’s the food. The most magnificent fruits and veggies aren’t available (at least at a rational cost) during certain times of the year to much of the country and the timing is perfect (translated: horrible) for winter illnesses.
Cold weather meals tend to consist of starchy, heavy, stick-to-your-ribs sort of foods. Not getting enough vitamins and minerals through your food brings your body’s immune system down a few more notches.
Beat Cold and Flu Season Before It Starts!
You can beat this thing. You can build your system up now before the germ soldiers lay siege to your entire body. It’s a three-step process.
Step #1 – Fortify the Castle
The castle is your body. You need as many nutrients as you can (and will) handle. If you’re not a person who eats right much of the time, make sure you supplement. Vitamin D3, omega-3, and an effective multi-vitamin are extremely helpful in beefing up security.
Consider adding a powerful shake to your morning routine that gives your body excellent fuel in one shot that you can use throughout the day. Check out our green smoothie recipe for the ideal mix of proteins, vitamins, and minerals to strengthen your walls and hold off the enemy. I drink lemon-infused water throughout the day to keep the nutrients flowing.
Step #2 – Take No Prisoners
Your home and office are breeding grounds so make them less appealing to nasty little critters who really see your body as the perfect locale for a family vacation. Mix yourself a natural antibacterial spray that doesn’t contain harsh chemicals, antibiotics, or ingredients that will strip your body of necessary moisture.
My favorite “all over the house” spray is simple to make, inexpensive to produce (by the gallon if you want), and refreshing.
- 32 ounce spray bottle
- 28 ounces filtered water
- 4 tablespoons witch hazel
- 20 drops orange essential oil
- 20 drops lavender essential oil
- 8 drops eucalyptus oil
- 28 drops tea tree oil
Mix all ingredients well and spray on hard surfaces (counters, toilets, doorknobs, and so on) after cleaning normally with soap and water. Allow to air dry.
If you want to use it on fabrics, shake well and test a small spot to make sure it doesn’t discolor the material. I love to spray this stuff behind appliances and furniture as well because I’ve found that spiders and other many-legged critters hate it as much as microscopic bacteria.
Sprays using a tiny part of one of these essential oils is also great to freshen up your winter wear between washings. Pay special attention to your hats, gloves, scarves, and jackets. It kills the germs and makes them smell like they’ve just come out of the dryer.
Use caution if you have cats! Felines don’t have the necessary glands required to process essential oils so it can be highly toxic. I treat one room at a time and keep my cats out of it for at least an hour (with the overhead fan going) before I let them back into the space.
Step #3 – Keep Fighting
No matter what you do (yes, even those of you who get the flu shot), you still might end up with an outpouring of bodily fluids as you shiver and sweat in misery.
Speed up your recovery by drinking as many fluids as you can. Skip the bottled drinks and opt for lemon water with a couple of drops of rosemary essential oil (only use glass when using essential oils). Make yourself a cup of hot tea several times a day. Use any kind you like!Sick with the flu? Speed up your recovery by drinking as many fluids as you can. #DrinkUpClick To Tweet
I prefer to steep a nice, strong green tea and then add a tablespoon of honey and a teaspoon of coconut oil (both of which are antibacterial and antiviral) with a heavy squeeze of lemon.
Shower at least once a day (no matter how weak and tired you feel) to wash away the germs being sweated out of your pores. Change your sheets and towels as often as you can and do it all again when you feel better. Spray your space and instead of a standard vaporizer, consider using an essential oil diffuser non-stop until the sickness breaks.
While you’re sick…
- Drop the alcohol unless you mix yourself a potent hot toddy before bed.
- Sleep as much as your body demands so it can do necessary repairs.
- Drink fluids until you pop. Flushing your system pushes toxins, bacteria, and viruses out by force and helps your liver, kidneys, and lymph system do their jobs.
- Keep your hands, feet, and lips moisturized at all times to avoid cracked skin that provides easy access for germs
- If you struggle to keep down food, consider broth or juice smoothies. You need to give your body something and these are old standbys that can really make a difference when you’re feeling low.
Cold and flu season doesn’t have to win. If you play your cards right (and your kid avoids little snot-sleeve Bobby), you just might make it through this winter without being knocked down by nasty germs.
Good luck out there!