Daylight savings time is here this weekend and I’m happy to be getting an “extra hour” of sleep. For some reason our little nation of farmers has decided this process is essential to the optimal functioning of our society, so the habit remains.
Unfortunately, this time of year is also the beginning of flu season. With daylight savings time and day-shortening causing circadian stress, the body’s natural wake/sleep cycles are disrupted. The average American is bombarded with stressors every day in the form of a poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, emotional stress, etc, and that wears on the natural defenses. The immune system can only work so hard and when the load gets too great, you get sick.
There are several things you can do to help boost your immunity this flu season and they contribute significantly to the reason I haven’t needed a flu shot in years. I could go into the science behind all of these but we both have things to do so I won’t waste your time. Just reach out if you have any questions.
- Drink lots of water. Water helps to flush out the bad stuff and strengthens the good stuff. You’re going to pee more frequently so practice holding it and you can train the muscles of your pelvic floor as a bonus. Also, you’re not hydrated when you can pee clear, you’re hydrated when you can do that for 60+ days in a row.
- Get enough sleep. People tend to argue with me on this one but studies consistently show that getting more sleep is good for you. Turn off the lights and TV at night and try to read a book. If you fall asleep quickly, you need it, and waking up early to work out only makes sense if you’re getting enough rest. Sometimes it is much more beneficial to skip the lift.
- Eat for your needs. It’s nearly the holiday season, I get it. Cookies, pies, cakes, candies, alcoholic everything. It’s hard not to get excited until you realize that stuff can have some pretty negative effects for up to 3 days after consumption, or life if you decide to push it. The “bug I get every [Nov/Dec/Jan]” is probably due to the life disrupting schedule changes or the food you’re hoovering every holiday season. Sugar decimates the immune system. See option #1 should you decide do skip this suggestion.
- Move, and move differently. Exercise is a funny thing. It’s good for you until it’s bad for you, and vice versa. The same goes with stretching, yoga, you name it—even too many ELDOA in the same position can be unnecessary. If you’ve been doing something regularly, mix it up. If the underlying theme is that you want “a good burn” or something that “kills you” then try something that makes you feel alive, or something chill.
- Be quiet. I prefer the sauna as my quiet place, and it seems to go with the cold weather in places that aren’t Texas, but anywhere will do. Turning off the noise, especially the holiday noise, can significantly lower stress levels. The research is beginning to prove what the anecdotal evidence has shown all along, mindfulness, meditation, deep-breathing and the like has directly positive effects on the immune system. The harder time you have quieting your mind, the more you need it.
It sounds pretty easy but it takes focused effort to do it, but it’s not the kind of effort that takes a significant change in your daily schedule. You’re already doing most if not all of these things. Good for you! You’re the best!
Now do just a liiiittle bit better.
These habits done well all contribute to the most important factor in regulating the immune system. Happiness. Find some happiness this holiday season, if we can all turn off our screens for just a few more minutes a day, we’ll see that it’s all around us.
Contact Antidote for more information about coaching, ELDOA, myofascial stretching, and more at (281) 803-9930.