Winter is a wonderful time for rest and introspection. The shorter days are a signal that we ought to change our routine a little bit to adapt to the time of year. Winter brings lots of wonderful things with it, but it also brings the dreaded winter flu season for many.
I know many people who get a cold or flu every winter, like clockwork. Once the cold comes, it tends to linger on for days and weeks without budging. Of course getting sick is no fun; so perhaps taking a few preventive measures may be advisable. The usual viruses and bacteria will be present, but if our immune system is working well, then we should be able to keep the flu at bay, or at least recover faster. So let’s look a few simple things that we can do to stay healthier this winter.
Adapt your routine
The mind and body is one system that works together. Our emotions and state of mind impact our health, and stress and colds have a connection. Take a moment to notice the last time you had a cold, were you feeling stressed or overwhelmed about something? Did it all seem too much? This may seem to be a co-incidence but in coaching terms overwhelm and colds go together. Many people keep the same routine in winter as they do in the summer. The problem with this is that our bodies naturally slow down in the winter months. Our lymphatic system slows down and the longer nights affect our sleep cycle. Carrying on with the same routine puts the system under stress. Stress is known to weaken the immune system and then follows the lingering cold. One important step then is to adapt your routine in the winter months. End your day a little earlier, and eat your evening meal earlier on as well. Give yourself a chance to take some time out to rest, and reflect. Then you will be ready for action when spring emerges.
It sounds odd to talk about rest and exercise at the same time but they each play an important role in health. Exercise boosts the immune system because it helps neutralise the chemicals that are released during stress. Choose an exercise that will help you relax both physically and mentally. Light exercise that you enjoy is often more beneficial than stressful exertion. Practicing yoga or Tai Chi is wonderful for mind and body. Also some light walking or rebounding helps to keep the lymphatic system moving. The lymphatic system is an essential part of our detox system and physical movement helps to keep it moving smoothly, especially as it tends to thicken in the winter.
This could possibly be one of the most important things to boost the overall function of the body. We are mostly water, yet we often forget to replenish this essential resource. Water helps us to remove toxins from the body, as well as facilitate chemical reactions taking place in the body all the time. When we are dehydrated, our cells cannot function as they are meant to, therefore leading to a stress alert in the body. Over time, this can lead to overwhelm, anxiety as well as a range of other symptoms. One thing that we can begin to do very easily is drink more water. Drinking other liquids such as juices, tea, and coffee do not have the same effect. In fact, tea and coffee remove water from the body. Drink water that is at room or body temperature; 8 glasses a day is the average indicator. You can adjust it depending on how you feel. Please hydrate with room temperature water.
Get some sun
Sunlight not only makes us feel more optimistic, but it is essential for many of our cellular functions. We need light to carry out many of the metabolic processes within the body, and this is where both sunlight and food come in. Staying positive in the winter can be a challenge due to the shorter days, so get out and about when you notice the sun. Take a few moments and sit outdoors. Notice that you will feel better in your spirits, which will of course help in staying healthier.
Eat seasonal fruit and vegetables
We hear talk about fruit and vegetables all the time but why are they so important? Fresh fruit and vegetables play an important part in our immune system because they provide us with valuable vitamins and minerals. We obtain most of our vitamins and minerals from plant food sources. Some vitamins and minerals are antioxidants; vital substances that help keep our immune system healthy, allowing us to ward off any nasty infections. This winter, eat seasonal fruit and vegetables and enjoy the local produce where you live. Seasonal foods have properties that are appropriate for the body at that time of year. If we eat according to the season, the body can digest the food more easily as it is going with the flow. Make sure to add some raw nuts, seeds and fish to your diet. These provide essential fatty acids that are required for the body to carry out a range of functions. Also, if you do get a cold or flu, avoid the foods that form mucus in the body, such as dairy, grains, and red meat, till the cold subsides.
Natural cures and supplements
Allah (SWT) has given us the cures we need in Nature. However, we sometimes are not able to get all that we need from the food we eat and that’s where supplementation can help.
Many people rely on Vitamin C during a cold as it plays an important part in strengthening our immune system. It is recommended to have a vitamin and mineral supplement throughout the year to keep our bodies functioning at their best. Vitamins and minerals work as a team, and they all serve a valuable purpose and need a balance. A comprehensive vitamin and mineral supplement can play an important role in boosting immunity, and overall health. Certain vitamins and minerals known for their antioxidant properties include vitamin A, C, and E, B vitamins, along with Zinc, Magnesium and Selenium to name a few. All supplements however, are not the same, so do invest in a product that you feel confident with. In addition to a good supplement, adding in grapefruit seed extract, which is available from health food stores, can really help to boost immunity and kill off unwanted bacteria. Supplements are an important part of our health regimen due to our modern lifestyles. However, they are not a replacement for a wholesome diet. If you are keen to keep yourself well, then paying attention to food is of the utmost importance as well.
Keeping a balance of eating well, exercise and keeping a positive outlook is important. I hope that the tips will be useful to you and I invite you to try the ones that you feel will make the most difference to you. Insha’Allah we will all enjoy this winter and take the time out to be with friends and family. Lets use this time of year to take stock of what we achieved and what we would like the new year to bring insha’Allah.
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Sayeda Habib is a highly qualified professional coach. She coaches Muslim women to help them feel empowered and create results in their lives. She coaches clients one to one and also runs group workshops. She holds the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential issued by the International Coach Federation. She is the author of “Discover the Best in You: Life Coaching for Muslims.” She also contributes to various online and print publications. She has been featured in the media in various countries including Pakistan, the UAE and the United Kingdom. To find out more, log on to www.makelifehappen.com or email at Sayeda@makelifehappen.com