Want to have a healthy winter? Who doesn’t? But when cold and flu season arrives and we see adds on TV for medicines, or hear about people we know becoming ill, we might start feeling like winter illnesses are just a given, inevitable. However, they are not inevitable and you can do a few powerfully effective things to prove it.
We all know that no one can completely avoid getting sick. Sometimes kids (and parents) just get sick, and then their immune system kicks in and they get well again. You can use these super simple strategies to help your kids stay healthier, reduce the amount of illness this winter, shorten the duration of illnesses, and keep your life sane as well.
Super Simple Ways to Have a Healthy Winter
Skip the hand sanitizer and just use soap and water. Teach your children how by demonstrating and practicing with them. Teach them strategic hand washing, not obsessive hand washing. How and when. Always before eating. After blowing or wiping nose, sneezing, or coughing. Upon arriving home from school or shopping. After using the toilet. As for dirt, real dirt – it doesn’t cause colds (neither does rain, snow, or cold weather) so figure out your own reasonable rules for these.
Ramp Up Nutrition
Up the fresh veggies and fruits. Cut the sugar and sweets as far as possible, with zero as the gold standard. Eat fermented foods like organic whole milk plain yogurt (add a little honey at first), miso soup (delicious on a winter night and easy make – google a recipe), kimchi (make your own – it’s easy), or real sauerkraut. Consider a good multi vitamin made for kids that you get at a health food store. You can also add a children’s Vitamin D supplement since Vitamin D revs the immune system (and helps build bones).
Water keeps our bodies moisturized and moist skin is less susceptible to the invasion of viruses and bacteria. How much water? The formula is 1/2 your body weight in ounces. So, kids need a little less than parents.
No Hands Above the Neck
Kids touch everything and then, if they touch their faces, virus and bacteria gets introduced through eyes, nose, and mouth. When I taught school I made a rule that I never touched myself above the neck while at work, and I never licked a finger to flip through papers. The first couple of years I was sick a lot, however once I adopted these strategies I rarely got sick at all. Such a relief! Remember growing bacteria in a petri dish in high school science? Same concept here.
Everybody Outside Every Day
Playing, walking, sledding, swinging, biking – even in the winter. This means you, too, parents. I have noticed a trend away from homework lately, which means more free time after school! Yippee! Right? Now, if we can resist using this time for more screen viewing, and use it instead for more time outside, we will all have a healthy winter.
Keep Life Simple
Being too busy and over booking your family = stress and hurried days, one after the other = urgency = over active adrenal systems flooding the body with low levels of cortisol = a tired immune system = vulnerability to illness of all kinds. Try to have down days and try to be home for simple, home cooked dinner as much as possible. Reduce any stress in your family – get help if you need it. Focus on calm, no matter what you are doing.
Sleep is so lovely. It feels so good to lie down, let go of the day, read to your children, and then read for yourself. Sleep also repairs the body after the demands of the day, which recharges the immune system. Children need much more sleep than most get so, more is probably better. Train your children to value sleep as treasured time, not to feel like they will miss out on something when they go to bed. Model it for them. Practice good sleep hygiene.
Love Your Family
Give hugs and kisses, and tell others in your family you love them. Give honest compliments for kindness, helpfulness, and generosity. Appreciation and feeling appreciated enhances over all health according to science, so pour it on and nurture each other.
Enjoy Your Healthy Winter
Ideas and strategies sometimes feel far to simple to be very effective. I think that making things overly complicated goes along with being human on the planet. These ideas for a healthy winter work, are simple, and cost little money over all. You’re going to notice, however, that making a few of these changes is much easier than you would expect, and you might love the results.