Flu season brings the colds, sniffles, sneezes, coughs and digestive issues. Lately, just a sneeze will have people running in the opposite direction and send people into a panic. In a normal flu season millions of people will come down with the symptoms. We know this year is not normal and the potential for millions more to come down with symptoms is quite frankly, mind boggling and scary. If you are isolating yourself in your home because of the threat of getting the flu, here are some ways to keep healthy and perhaps avoid the flu altogether.
So is it real?
Just look outside and on the news. You’ll see people wearing masks as they walk in the streets; schools and arenas are closed, public parks are being fenced off, messages from doctors and nurses are on social media telling us this is real. It’s as real as it can get. Even with the other flu strains, millions of people are hospitalized each year, but this year – it’s really different. Those at higher risk are the very young, seniors and people with compromised immune systems. People who are diabetic, asthmatic, who smoke and/or vape, who have heart conditions or have compromised immune systems due to cancer treatments or other reasons such as recent surgeries or recent illnesses.
Many people are carriers of the flu virus without even knowing it. The person you had lunch with, or travelled with on the train or in the carpool; or the child who came to the daycare where your daughter goes, could all be carriers. Lots of kids who feel fine one day, then the next are missing school. Kids – you know, the ones who cough into the air, wipe their nose on their sleeve or hands, then touch their faces or the faces of other kids. Kids are the biggest carriers of all and they spread it to their classmates, teachers and parents.
So what should we do? Here are 13 tips to help you cope through the flu season:
#1: #Stay Home
Now you needn’t be a little prairie dog and bury yourself under the covers during flu season, but if you aren’t feeling well, stay home and avoid spreading it around – your friends, family and co-workers will thank you for it! Even if you have a cold, stay home because your immune system is compromised as your body fights the cold and in no time the cold can turn into a full blown episode of the flu. Above all, follow established protocols that are in existence for the times.
#2: Wash Your Hands
Remember Mom saying, “Wash your hands dear!” Why? Simple – humans touch their face a lot! Try not touching your face for the full day to see what I mean. Our hands touch a surface like a light switch, our cell phone, the photocopier, our land-line phone, door knobs, the toilet handle, the fridge door, stove and/or microwave handles – get it?? Those common places where the virus is, or we sneeze into our hands, then we touch our face. Voila! The flu virus is on it’s way to nestle in your body for a few days as it comes into contact with your lips, nose, eyes and nasal passage membranes. Studies confirm hand washing is effective in the prevention of the flu.
#3: Disinfect Common Areas Daily
Those common areas I just mentioned in #2 – disinfect them daily. Here’s a story. I was working late one evening and noticed a supervisor going around with disinfectant wipes cleaning all of her staff’s phones, computer keyboards and the photocopier pad. I asked her, “What are you doing?” She responded: “I’ve been doing this for the past two years. It started as an experiment after so many of my staff were getting sick from colds and flu. I did some research and found out these areas were the worst – the phone in particular. Ever since I started doing this, I’ve decreased the sick time in my unit by over 50%” “WOW” I thought. I went back and checked the personnel attendance records. She was right!!
What do you touch everyday? Do you wipe down at the end of the day? (Just a note: do not use a spray, foam cleaner. I did one day on my phone at work – it shorted it out and they had to buy a new phone:))
When your immune system is being challenged the best thing to do is sleep. In fact your body will be craving for sleep so honor it’s wishes. There are lots of studies that show a direct link with a strong immune system and quality of sleep. Establish a good bedtime routine and stick to it making sure you get at least 7+ hours of quality, sound sleep each night for adults, more for kids.
#5 Get the Flu Shot
Do your research to decide if getting the flu shot is for you and your family. Gather the research from reliable sources that have studies to back up their research. We know that getting the flu shot can be a crap shoot as scientists guess which strain they will fight in the upcoming flu season. Some who get the flu shot may get the flu because it is a different strain, but the statistics still indicate that getting the flu shot does decrease the odds of getting the flu. Again it’s your choice – just make an informed, intelligent one that is right for you and your family. Just for the record, I'm not getting into the "vaccine debate". Your life, your choice.
#6 Grandma’s Elderberry Syrup – Good for More than Waffles!
There are lots of natural immune boosters out there that have been proven to help keep us healthier. Grandma’s recipes may be the answer! Elderberries have grown for centuries and I remember picking them on my grandparents farm when I was little.
The berries are from the Sambucus nigra plant and are naturally high in immune boosting compounds that help beat the cold and flu more quickly. The elderberry is a natural remedy for mild colds and flu.
Berry picking is fun to do for the whole family and it's an affordable way to get out, stock the freezer and have fun with your kids and grandchildren. The nice thing is - these berries taste good when you use them in recipes. I like to make my syrups and jelly’s because then I know the source and what’s in it. I found an old recipe for elderberry syrup my Grandma used to make. Who would have thought these old recipes would come back? Grandma knew it would help prevent the flu or shorten the time you had it.
Benefits of the Elderberry:
Chalked full of Vitamin A, B, and C they help stimulate the immune system. Made into a syrup, we can use it on pancakes, waffles and get all the goodness along with it. The synergistic addition of cinnamon and ginger plus raw honey gives you an extra immune boost.
Save Money – Make Your Own
You can buy elderberry syrup at the health food stores but it’s expensive - $16-$18 for 4-6 ounces!! You can make 16 ounces for about $10, have fun making it with your kids and everyone will love the taste!
Hint: In elderberry season, be sure to pick lots and put in the freezer – great for pies, jams, wine, tarts and so much more.
CLICK HERE FOR A SIMPLE RECIPE you can make with your kids or grandchildren.
#7: Sunshine on a Cloudy Day
Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin and is a key player in keeping us healthy. Vitamin D helps our body absorb calcium, improves heart health, supports the pancreas, fights cancer and can help improve mood-related disorders. When our bodies are deficient in Vitamin D we are open to infections and increased autoimmunity. My mother always said to me, even when I had a cold, “Get outside for 15-20 minutes and blow the stink off with some sunshine!” Long before we had Vitamin D supplements this tells us again, Mom was right! Try and get outside everyday in the sun but if you can’t be sure to take a good Vitamin D supplement, 1,000 IUs per day.
#8: Keep Hydrated
Drink water. It’s so simple to do. What’s the right amount? Take your body weight and divide by 2 for the number of ounces you should be drinking per day. Example: 140 lbs/2 = 70 ounces.
Why? It’s simple – we have to flush out the toxins and pathogens (bacteria and viruses) that our body is being taxed with when we are sick. Our lymphatic system needs the water to help build our immune system. So keep your water glass handy – add some flavor like your favorite Vitality or Dietary Essential Oil, or fruit – but just drink water! (sorry, tea and coffee don’t count – and guys, neither does your beer!!)
#9: Eat Properly
"You are what you eat!" My 93 year old father-in-law's sage advice. Your body thrives on good, fresh foods that are full of vitamins and goodness. Things to avoid: sugar, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods. They all deplete your immune system faster than you realize. Fruits, veggies and whole grains keep your body strong to defend it against a flu attack. The more colorful your plate, the better. A nutritious breakfast gets your body and mind set for the day. Do yourself a favour and say goodbye to the Drive Thru of coffee and donuts.
#10: Vitamin C
This powerful antioxidant is essential to repair and grow tissues in the body. It also strengthens the capillaries that carry oxygen and other necessary nutrients to other parts of the body via the bloodstream. Keeping your body functioning in a healthy manner is really important when you get sick with influenza. Studies show that vitamin C can help prevent and treat systemic infections.
#11 – Stay Away from Sickos
That friend, coworker, or family member who is sick – stay away from them. The folks who downplay their illness “Oh just a little bug – no worries.” or “Just had a sore throat that was annoying over the past week.” or the person in the department store line-up who is sneezing and hacking constantly. Step away and distance yourself or avoid the invite for coffee – whatever the situation, give them time to get back to normal.
#12 – Exercise
Exercise is good for the body, mind and spirit. Exercise intensity is a signal that regulates chemistry throughout your body and brain so it’s worth exploring. Light aerobic exercise is long and slow exercise at an easy pace – up to 65% of your peak heart rate. At that rate your muscles will burn mostly fat, so it’s your most fuel-efficient pace. This is the metabolic zone where your body and brain heal and grow. Distance counts here – not speed. You’ll build more endurance and general healthiness with prolonged light exercise for 30 minutes 6 days a week than hard-core exercise. 30 minutes a day? 6 days a week? Yes ... you'll thank me when you're 80+ and still active enjoying life💃🏼 Hiking, biking, dancing, rowing or kayaking to the favorite fishing hole does the trick!
#13 – Refrain and Retrain:
Good social practices are in order. No longer are the handshakes and hugs normal through the flu season. If you are a hugger 🤗 it’s going to be hard but you have to refrain from hugging everyone for your sake and theirs. Retrain yourself and train your kids to cough or sneeze into your bent elbow while turning away from anyone who is near. Wear washable gloves when shopping so you don’t touch the infected grocery carts or handrails in the stores then wash your gloves when you get home. Be sure to have disinfectant wipes and hand disinfectant in your car and make it a habit to use it especially at the gas pumps – even if you are wearing gloves. Upon returning home – wash your hands thoroughly – 20 seconds all over – sing Happy Birthday to yourself (20 seconds) while you do it! Make it a habit of wiping off common areas daily with a good disinfectant.
I love hearing from you my friend, so be sure to comment below and connect with me on social.
Founder of Prairie Senzes