Don’t breathe to deep! Just kidding (kind of).
After last week’s Easter break for most of my house hold everyone but me is sick. From my parents to sister to constant visitors (my other sister and her 3 month old) have something germy and persistent ranging from a basic hacking cold to bronchitis. On top of this, when I’m not home looking for regular work, I fill in as a substitute at a TK to 8th grade elementary school filled to the brim with its own Petri dish of bacterial growth.
Again, I’m the one person who seems to have escaped this round of infection which has led to a few people asking me how I’ve managed this feat.
I’m not a medical professional, so I can’t say that anything that follows will work for anyone else, this has worked for me.
I’m lucky enough to have a relatively strong immune system and I’m stubborn which means I’ll actually stick to my rules harder than anyone else I know. A lot of this comes down to the fact that when I do get sick, it knocks me on my but hard which makes me crabby because I’ve done everything right and still manage to feel horrid.
Anyway, onto the rules.
We’ll start out with the basics: Cleanliness!
I’m not talking about walking around with hand sanitizer in your pocket and wet naps disinfecting everything before you touch it. This will not only give you a pounding headache due to overexposure to fumes but I’m a firm believer that having limited contact while maintaining other safeguards can help you build up that immune system. There is also some evidence supporting the negative effects of overusing hand sanitizer, so watch out and do some research if so inclined.
Instead, wash your hands a few more times a day, wipe down your shared public areas especially highly used ones like door handles and cooking spaces. These activities will increase depending on the habits of those who live with you – hand-coughers/sneezers? Wipe things down a few times a day; work with kids? Up the hand washing and make sure you remind them to use tissues and wash their own hands properly.
Even though I hate it, Avoid Dairy!
When you are sick, dairy causes a lot of the mucus to build up making your coughing worse, tearing up your throat, and basically making you feel lousy. If you are avoiding getting sick, I say you should avoid this preemptively. If you have/get a touch of something, less dairy-induced phlegm will also help you get everything else out more quickly.
Next boost your Vitamin Regiment!
I take vitamins off and on. For years, I’ve tried different kinds but just haven’t kept anything up (again, yet!). But as soon as Illness settled in this house, I started taking my vitamin C, fish oil, and zinc pills once or twice a day depending on exposure rates. This is like taking Emergen-C but in higher doses. Vitamin C is water soluble which means you can’t overdose on these pills, however, you can overdue fish oil and zinc so always check your doses and take all medication seriously!
Whenever you get the chance, Air it Out!
I’m home a lot if I’m not working at the school – again another germy hotspot – as are multiple sick people. Air can be as dangerous as any surface in these situations. Air inside of the house can get stale and just holds everyone else’s breathe and coughs. So, as long as you don’t sleep with wet hair – remember this can make you sick as well – opening your window during the night for air ventilation and avoiding enclosed rooms with anyone ill will help you avoid more airborne contamination.
The last immediate thing you should do is Increase your Fluids – Especially Water!
I carry a water bottle with me at all times and the only other drink I have regularly is a cup or two of tea – so basically leaf water. With my new water bottle, I drink about 12 cups a day – about 96 oz daily- as a minimum. This minimum is a must on days surrounded by sick people and while working out (a must which I’ll touch on later).
Beyond just water, I always increase teas when I feel any kind of tickle. It’s a great way to break up anything that might be settling in your chest. Plus with a lot of choices in teas you can make combinations that help you stay awake, sleep better, or just clam yourself. I tend to switch between a basic black and cinnamon combo and a ginger green tea brew.
The best way to keep off any illness, however, is to work out long term strategies – basically Eat Well and Exercise Regularly!
Right now I am in the middle of both training for a 10k and on week two of the 21 Day Fix. I’m not doing the meal plan but I am watching proportions. I am working on upping my veg intake as soon as I get to the market! Maybe I’ll be able to put up a few healthy recipes getting me through these weeks in a few of these posts.
P.S. Get some Sleep!
I know that in our world sleep can feel overrated and no matter how much we love it, there always feels like there are so many other things we can/should be doing. But, let’s be honest, there really is little else that does as much good for us overall. Proper amount of sleep – with REM cycles and everything – is the point when longterm memory is stored and when your body gets its recovery time. Without sleep, it doesn’t matter how much caffine you drink to stay up, a few days without proper rest basically has your system in drunk mode. And how are you meant to get anything done – especially for your health – if your body is malfunctioning and malnourished because you couldn’t be bothered to sleep!
The fact is your overall health is the main factor which will dictate your ability to fight off any kind of illness. None of these pieces of advice will do you much good of you start after you are already ill – then you are just playing catch up. Making healthy choices when you aren’t sick will be the one thing that can really keep you from getting sick, even when the world around you seems to be coughing without any relief.
Still no matter how healthy you are and what steps you take to avoid illness, it can always hit so send me happy thoughts for another week without catching whatever it is circling and I’ll wish you the same.
- Taylor Gallagher