It’s that time of year. The holidays are quickly approaching and if you’re like most, you’ve got a lot to do. Whether you’re preparing for travel, planning big holiday gatherings, or working overtime in order to ensure you can afford to get everything on that holiday wish list, chances are you’re already starting to feel it. Stress. It’s the one thing we all share, regardless of our family’s cultural or religious holiday traditions. It reminds us that we are short on time, short on money, and maybe even short on patience. It’s easy enough to feel the mental and emotional drain that stress causes, and that can really slow us down.
What most people don’t realize though, is that stress causes a physical drain on our bodies as well. It may not be the only reason we become more susceptible to cold and flu at this time of year, but it’s often overlooked.
A Stressed Immune System
Stress can cause a normally functioning immune system to falter, making our body’s natural immune responses suppressed and inadequate. This means that a chance encounter with a sick neighbor, an exchange of money at Starbucks, or even pushing a cart through the grocery store, becomes a potential catalyst for the misery of coming down with the dreaded flu. Where a healthy immune system might easily defeat the nasty flu virus, a stressed system is going to really struggle and leave you feeling the effects of that microscopic battle going on inside your body.
So, how can we avoid the added stress of coming down with the flu? While your doctor and local pharmacy are belting out that holiday jingle, “Get your flu shot!” there are many things you can do naturally to help prevent catching all the strains of flu that aren’t covered in that vaccine. As Benjamin Franklin wisely advised: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Staying Healthy During Flu Season
Here are just a few tips from the Foot Palace team on how we like to keep our families healthy during flu season:
Nia: “For me, I know every person’s immunity is different, so there’s not just one thing that works for everyone. My number one thing that is most important for me is sleep! Even if everyone else gets sick, if I have enough rest, I know I will be okay.”
According to the WebMD, she’s not wrong: “A lot of studies show our T-cells go down if we are sleep deprived,” Balachandran says. “And inflammatory cytokines go up. … This could potentially lead to the greater risk of developing a cold or flu.”
Maria: “Eat right. If you eat right it will strengthen your immune system and help prevent you from getting the flu.”
WebMD offers this list of immune boosting foods.
Melly: “If I feel a little phlegm or scratchy in my throat I use a spoon full of lemon and sweet soybean sauce. If there is a fever I make a soup with ginger, garlic, and chicken. Also, I don’t drink cold water until I feel better. It works well for my husband, but he doesn’t like the soybean sauce. If you don’t like it you can substitute with honey.”
Sweet soy sauce is an Indonesian secret remedy. Melly gets hers from an Indonesian market in Atlanta, but you can also find it on Amazon.
Kimberly: “Staying hydrated & upping your vitamin D. I also take Emergen-c everyday and eat more broths and soups. Whenever I feel under the weather, I take oregano oil capsules. Oregano is a natural antiviral and antibiotic.”
Brett: “Diet is huge. What you put into your body is really important. Lots of water. Exercise. Walks in the park. Echinacea is supposedly a natural immune booster.”
What we put into our bodies is key. There are many immune boosting supplements and antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial botanicals. They can be taken in the form of supplements, herbal teas, and essential oils. Consult a local herbalist for more detailed information on safety & efficacy, as each individual has different immunity needs.
More important than any supplement though, is hydration! When your body is dehydrated, it cannot function as it should. This can leave your immune system lagging and susceptible to attack.
Using Reflexology Massage as Stress Reduction and Prevention
Of course, this list would be incomplete if we forgot to add our favorite method of melting stress and keeping our bodies in balance and harmony: reflexology!
Similar to acupressure, reflexology is a therapeutic method of massage that facilitates stress and tension relief by stimulating your internal pressure points and nervous system. The pressure is mostly applied to the hands and feet.
There are a few useful points to know if you want to give your immune system a quick and painless boost, but the benefit of a peaceful environment and soothing touch cannot be underestimated.
*Disclaimer – none of the tips from the Foot Palace team should constitute medical advice.