Seasonal changes affect all of us – both physically and emotionally. Fall brings with it cooler air, more wind and rain, and even a bit of snow at times. Fall also brings along more colds and flus, and the aches and pains that accompany them. Here are a few tips to stay well in the season:
1. Wash Your Hands:
This may seem basic, but studies confirm that the vast majority of common colds and flu’s can be prevented by regular handwashing. Fall’s cooler weather brings us indoors and in closer vicinity to one another, thus increases your exposure. Elevator buttons, door handles, taxi doors, etc. – all potential spots you could come in contact with someone else’s cold. Washing your hands regularly, especially before eating, can reduce the likelihood. Just warm water and soap, 30-45 seconds, should do the trick!
2. Stress Less:
Stress literally changes the chemistry in your brain, thus your body, thus your emotional health. It lowers overall immune system function and contributes to chronic inflammation – both of which you want to avoid.
Find a way to relax and release stress on a daily basis. Write poetry, exercise, walk the dog, try Qi Gong, yoga, meditation, or Tai Chi. Cozy up and read a book, take a hot bath, get a massage, get a baby-sitter to make time for yourself. Whatever works for you – do it, its well worth it.
3. Sleep In:
The Classical Chinese Medicine text, the Huang Di Nei Jing, states: “sleep early, rest well, and rise after the sun.” The idea is to follow the Sun’s lead through the seasons and sleep a little more when the sun rises later. Use the longer Fall nights to rest and restore the energies you've expended, and possibly depleted, during the longer days of the Spring and Summer. Sleep is another great way to contribute to healthy immune system function.
4. Seasonal “Tune-Up”:
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is a great way to bolster your immune system (Wei Qi) thus prevent colds and flus. Consider a Fall acupuncture treatment focused on preventative care. It’s also an opportunity to review food, sleep, and exercise habits with your practitioner and stay on track with your health into the cold season.
5. Cut back on Sugars and foods that turn into sugar:
With the holidays season approaching, consider starting to moderate your sugar intake now. This way if you decide to "indulge in the holidays", the season "to be jolly" is not one you'll have difficulty recovering from.
Remember that grains are the hidden "sugars" in our everyday eating – thus pasta, rice, and breads for the most part become sugar in the body. Fruits too are best in smaller portions - and best eaten after a meal, as opposed to being “the meal” itself. Pair with cheese, and nuts to reduce the sugar impact. Lastly, consider skipping that last drink of the night at the company party, before you order it.