I am just in the process of packing and getting ready to go to Geneva tomorrow to do some work with the UN. It will be nice to see some snow on top of Mont Blanc and Geneva certainly is a pretty place especially in the winter. I must admit I love this time of year because there are so many nice things about it. It is of course the time also when we can fall into the trap, if we are not careful, of moaning about the weather and not getting enough fresh air and exercise because it’s cold outside!
Two hundred years ago 75% of the population worked outdoors now only 10% of the population work in natural outdoor light. 12 Million people across Northern Europe are affected by SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder. We are also more prone to comfort eat during the winter, consuming more sugary foods and refined carbohydrates! So making a conscious effort to really look after yourself in the winter will help you to feel healthier and happier.
Here are 10 ways to beat the bugs and blues
1. Manage your personal stress
Stress is often cited as a nasty precursor to deflating your immune system and leaving you more vulnerable to sneaky viruses. If you are feeling run down and over stretched it is time to slow down, sharpen your stress management skills and strengthen your immunity.
2. Exercise and energise
To keep your immune system healthy exercise is one of the best things that you can do. Wrap up warm and go for a lovely big walk. This is even better than going to the gym because you will get lots of fresh air and natural daylight.
3. Drink lots of water
Water may not be the drink of choice in the winter, however it is one of the best things that you can do to keep healthy and it is vital for all bodily functions. So keep a bottle with you at all times and keep sipping it throughout the day. There are some delicious herbal teas available and these will also add to your recommended quota of 2 litres a day.
4. Boost your vitamin C
Vitamin C is at the top of the list among natural immune boosters for your body. The research on the immune boosting properties of the vitamin has been extensive. So taking a supplement during the winter is a good idea and eat lots of seasonal fruit!
5. Eat yourself healthy
You can really protect your immune system by eating healthy food. Certain foods like garlic, ginger, tomatoes and onions are all great for warding off colds. Plenty of fruit and fresh vegetables will provide you with antioxidants and a whole host of vitamins and minerals. So let healthy food be your medicine.
6. Take Echinacea
Taking the herbal remedy Echinacea, according to research, can more than halve the risk of catching a common cold. It is made from nine species of herbaceous plants in the family Asteraceae which are commonly called purple coneflower. It is available in liquid, tablets and delicious herbal teas. Visit your local health shop to ask for more advice.
7. Reduce sugar
Eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tsp) of refined sugar, the equivalent of one 12-ounce can of sugary fizzy drink soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by 40%. The immune-suppressing effect of refined sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours!
8. Drink alcohol in moderation
Despite the fact that it is the season to be jolly it doesn’t mean it has to be artificially induced! Excessive alcohol intake can harm the body's immune system in two ways. First, it produces an overall nutritional deficiency, depriving the body of valuable immune boosting nutrients.
9. Wash your hands
With more bugs abound it is important to wash your hands often and well especially before eating as this is one of the easiest ways to help prevent the spread of infections. Also, if you have a cold and you use a paper tissue throw them away after each use rather than keep using it as the germs will continue to transfer to your hands.
10. Sleep well
A good night’s rest is one of the best ways to boost your immune system. The quality of your sleep is very important too so that you feel energised at the start of each day. Cutting out caffeine and alcohol will help. Try a warm bath with lavender oil and a cup of camomile tea - it will work wonders.
In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer