It’s definitely that time of year–the time of year when everyone around you starts getting sick.

And I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate getting sick–it feels like such a waste of time, when I’ve got so much other more important stuff to do.

So if I can avoid sickness as much as possible, then I am all for it.

Of course, as always, anytime we’re talking about medical conditions and specific health issues, I just want to start with the disclaimer that I am not a doctor. What I’m going to share with you today is NOT medical advice, and should not be taken as such–it’s just MY OPINION based on what I’ve learned from doing my own research and what I’ve seen work for me and my family.

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Why We Get Sick During Cold and Flu Season

So first things first–why do we even get sick in the first place during this time of year? Well, there are a lot of reasons for this but the main culprit is that we’re all just spending so much more time together indoors.

We’re heading back to school and back to work after summer vacations, which means we’re in close contact with other people–and their germs–all day long. And then as the weather gets colder, we tend to spend even more time indoors, which just increases our exposure to those germs.

Not only that, the colder weather and dry air can actually weaken our immune systems, making us even more susceptible to getting sick.

But it’s not just about being around other people and their germs–it’s also about the state of our own bodies. When we’re under stress–whether it’s from lack of sleep, poor nutrition, feeling like we’ve got too much to do, ramping up for the busy holiday season, or just dealing with a lot of changes in our lives–our immune system can also become compromised, making it easier for us to catch whatever is going around.

So basically it’s like the perfect storm–higher stress levels, colder weather, and more exposure to germs.

And if you’re traveling, your chances of getting sick are even higher!

That was definitely MY problem last week–I traveled to a conference where I spent 4 super intense days in close proximity with 5,000 people. I didn’t sleep a whole lot, didn’t drink enough water, didn’t eat super great, and basically just sort of ran myself into the ground. And within a day of getting home, it all caught up with me.

And you know that feeling, right? When you KNOW you’re getting sick, because all the sudden you can feel it in the back of your throat and you feel it coming on. The worst.

And then of course I passed it on to my husband and then to my daughter, so even after I was feeling better they were still dealing with the repercussions. And my poor daughter was so mad because it was homecoming week and she’s a senior and she did NOT want to miss out!

Not fun.

So what’s the solution? Because obviously we can’t just lock ourselves up in a bubble and avoid the whole world for six months of the year, right? It’s not super practical.

Things You Can Do to Avoid Getting Sick

Thankfully there are actually a lot of things you can do to avoid getting sick and naturally boost your immune system. They’re not instant fixes, but they are general practices that will help build up your resistance to a lot of the germs that are out there, so you’re not constantly coming down with something. In fact, some people who follow these practices report that they rarely get sick at all!

So in no particular order, here are some things you can start doing TODAY to supercharge your immune system and stay healthy during cold and flu season:

  • EAT WELL. We talk a lot about food on this website and about what you should be eating as part of a healthy diet in order to reduce insulin resistance and heal your gut, so I won’t go super deep into that here. But basically a whole food diet that is low in sugar and carbohydrates and avoids most processed & inflammatory foods, and that is high in protein and includes plenty of healthy fats is the very best way to keep your body healthy all the time. It just is. And if this becomes the lifestyle you adapt to, over time you will not only feel better in general, you’ll improve your ability to fight off germs and all those bugs and viruses going around.
  • SLEEP WELL. Sleep is always important, but especially during cold and flu season! Getting enough good quality sleep is essential for your immune system to function properly. So make sure you’re getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night–and if this is something you struggle with, then really focus on getting intentional about doing whatever you can to improve your sleep, whether it’s creating a better nighttime routine, shutting off all electronics a few hours before bed, or incorporating some sort of meditation or relaxation ritual.
  • DRINK PLENTY OF WATER. Dehydration can weaken your immune system, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day. You may also want to consider adding in some quality sugar-free electrolyte powder once or twice a day as well. Herbal teas, especially green tea, are also full of natural antioxidants. But stay away from soda and other sugary drinks!
  • TAKE SUPPLEMENTS. There are a lot of supplements you could take that will help boost your immune system, and it’s a good idea to check with a healthcare professional before starting any new ones. But here are some general recommendations for the specific immunity boosting supplements I like to take every day this time of year:
    • Vitamin D. Most people are deficient in vitamin D during winter months when we’re not out in the sun as much, and this deficiency can greatly affect our immune system. So make sure you’re supplementing with a high-quality vitamin D supplement.
    • Probiotics. A healthy gut is essential for overall health and a strong immune system, so consider taking a good probiotic to keep your gut flora in balance.
    • Vitamin C. This antioxidant is known for its immune-boosting properties. You can either take a supplement or increase your intake of vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, strawberries, and leafy greens.
    • Zinc. Zinc is essential for proper immune system function and may help reduce the duration of colds and flu. It’s also important for wound healing and maintaining healthy skin.
    • Quercetin. This antioxidant has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a great supplement for fighting off infections.
  • REDUCE STRESS. Stress can have a major impact on your immune system, making you way more susceptible to illness. That means that if you’ve got a lot going on, or a lot weighing on you, it’s important to find ways to actively manage and reduce stress in your life. Sometimes that might mean cutting back on activities, or hiring help if you’ve got too much to do. But it could also mean limiting your exposure stressful & negative influences or toxic people.
  • GET OUTSIDE EVERY DAY. Nature has a powerful effect on our health, and simply getting outside in the fresh air and especially the sunshine can do wonders for boosting your immune system. Plus, sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D! Try to make it a goal to spend at least 20-30 minutes in the fresh air every single day.
  • PRACTICE POSITIVITY & GRATITUDE. This might sound a little woo woo, but there is actually SO much evidence to support the idea that a positive attitude and gratitude can greatly improve your physical health. When we focus on the good things in our lives, it boosts our immune system and overall well-being. I recommend getting a journal or notebook, and before you go to bed, record 3 wins–something you learned, something you did, something god that happened, or something you’re grateful for. It will you put you in a positive mindset before sleep, and also help you to wake up feeling grateful. It’s a simple thing, but amazing what a difference it can make!

What to Do If You Do Get Sick

While those are all the things you can do on an ongoing basis to keep yourself healthy and keep your immune system strong, there might still be times where despite your best efforts, you still DO get sick. So what then? What can you do to get yourself feeling better and back to normal as quickly as possible?

Well, I’m sure everyone has their own process, but these are the exact steps I take anytime I or my husband or one of my kids get sick

  1. First, we LOAD UP on vitamins, especially Vitamin C.

I’m big into supplements anyway, but the moment we feel something coming on, we go into vitamin overdrive. Specifically, we’ll do what I call “MACROdosing” on Vitamin C–take WAY more than the recommended dose, and then keep taking it in super high doses throughout the day. And you can do this with Vitamin C because your body can’t actually absorb more than it can use, so you’ll just flush out the excess. But I think there is something to be said for flushing out the toxins along with it. We also make sure to take Vitamin D and Zinc and some extra Quercetin and magnesium, but we don’t macrodose on those ones–basically just take the normal amount.

  1. Second, we use a LOT of essential oils.

The next thing we do is get out all the essential oils. I’ve been using Young Living for a really long time now–at least 10 years, and I am such a big believer in the power of oils. Our favorite for sickness is one that’s called Thieves. But if we feel sick, and especially if we feel anything in our throat, we’ll usually drop Thieves onto our throat several times a day. I also like to rub one called Immunopower on my forearms and on the bottom of my feet. And oregano is also a good one for the bottom of your feet. Peppermint can also be super helpful for helping with headaches, or with congestion. And if you’re really congested, you can put a few drops of eucalyptus and peppermint in boiling water, and then breathe in the steam.

  1. Third, we hydrate with soothing tea & broth.

The third thing is making sure we stay hydrated. We drink a lot of water, but also herbal tea–I like to add peppermint essential oil–and also bone broth is really, really good for you. A lot of times when you’re not feeling good you’re not super hungry, but the tea and bone broth can go a long way.

  1. Fourth, we try to get as much rest as possible for the first 24 hours

The last thing that we do, which is not always totally possible, is to just try to give ourselves as much time to rest & recover as we possibly can. It’s not always practical to stay in bed all day, but there’s no reason you can’t go to bed at 5pm if you’re feeling crappy. Sometimes just a little extra sleep can make all the difference, especially if you’re loading up on vitamins and oils beforehand.

Final Thoughts

In the end, the old adage really is true–an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you can make these healthy habits a part of your daily routine, and take care of yourself both physically and mentally, you’ll have a much better chance of staying healthy during the cold & flu season.

But just in case, it’s always good to have some natural remedies at your disposal for when you do get sick. And hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you stay healthy and get back to feeling your best in no time.

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