Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

It’s that time of year again – cold and flu season. As someone susceptible to sinus infections and other fun stuff, I’ve cobbled together some safeguards to help me get through the cold and flu season. I’m not a Dr., nurse or other health care professional. These tips are just things I’ve learned from Dr.’s and books that work for me to avoid or shorten common illnesses. Hopefully, they’ll work for you too and keep you healthy.

Every day tips to ward off colds and flu:

1. Work out (if you are able, not if you’re dizzy, etc.). This is especially useful for colds, allergies and asthma (both my Mom and I have asthma and both of our Dr.’s want us on the treadmill or doing some other form of cardio regularly).

2. Sleep. Minimum 7 hours, preferably 8 or 9 per night. When you’re well-rested you’re better able to ward off germs.

3. Nasal irrigation (especially for sinus sufferers): Not the most fun process, but used daily cut my sinus infections in 1/2.

4. Hot tea and hot water: to be blunt, hot liquids thin mucus. There’s nothing like hot water to cut through post-nasal drip. If you’re having one of those cough every time you lay-down nights, a glass of hot water will let you get some sleep. A big bottle of NyQuil also doesn’t hurt.

5. Wash your hands, often. Antibacterial gel doesn’t hurt either. Keep lotion on hand to prevent skin form drying out too much from these protective measures.

6. And my no. 1 tip, that is pretty much impossible to follow, stay away from sick people!

Plane Travel

For those of you who find yourself on planes, here’s my gold standard for avoiding plane spread disease (given to me by a nurse friend and reinforced by my Doctor): Chapstick or lip gloss to seal up all those cracks in your lips, Afrin to spray a protective coating in your nose and keep your sinuses in a non-inflamed state, hand lotion to seal up the cracks in your hands, and turning the recycled air blower positioned above your seat off. For long flights (3+ hours) add in normal facial moisturizer topped immediately with Dermalogica barrier repair to eliminate post-flight dryness and those cross-country airplane breakouts.

Meditation Makes Me Sleepy

Meditation is touted as a stress-reducer, path to emotional well-being and way to find inner-calm. I’ve tried meditation on and off over the years but I never was able to make it a regular practice.

For the past few months meditation has kept invading my mind as something I need to incorporate into my daily life. It seems the fates of the internet agree because they -and random internet surfing- caused me to stumble across the Chopra Center 21-day Meditation Challenge. On each of the 21-days of the meditation challenge (starting Monday January 24) the Chopra Center sends you an email containing a guided meditation.

Why 21 days? Because apparently 21-days is about how long it takes to make a new practice a habit. I was intrigued. The challenge was free. I had nothing to lose and it seemed that fate had pushed this opportunity in my keyboard-typing hands. So I signed up and promptly forgot about it.

I remembered the challenge on Monday morning when my first guided meditation arrived in my inbox. I opened it up that night even though I knew it would put me past the bedtime I’ve been trying to force upon myself and even though I still had homework for writing class to finish. So yes, the thought of taking the time to do my first guided meditation stressed me out. Hmmm . . . maybe the meditation itself could relieve the stress the thought of taking the time to do the meditation had induced?

Each guided meditation is approximately 8-15 minutes in total duration, which includes instructional and inspirational “talk.” Realizing this on Day 1, when you’re in a hurry is a bit frustrating. For example, Day 1 consisted of a total of 1 minute of actual meditation – so yes, I found myself multi-tasking.

For Day 2, I decided to do the meditation at the office after lunch so I wouldn’t be so stressed out. I opened the meditation, discovered that the technique of the day was breathing meditation and read the explanatory email that accompanies each guided meditation. I got comfortable and began.

For Day 2 we indulged in about 4 minutes of actual meditation. It was calming. It was relaxing. It made me nod off. During the 4 minutes of meditation I found myself fluctuating between focusing on my breathing and startling myself awake every time my head fell when I started to doze. One moment I was relaxed, the next I thought I was on an airplane, had inadvertently fallen asleep, and was checking to see if anyone noticed or if there was evidence of drool. I suspect this is not the intended result of meditation. But perhaps, I was just sleep deprived.

Today is Day 3 and I’m committed to stick to the challenge and progress through my sleeping stage.

Do you meditate? Any advice for the chronically sleepy?

If anyone would like to join me on this meditation journey, it’s free and not to late to sign up. Just click here.