Germ Warfare: How To Stay Healthy This Winter

My household has had the dreaded flu for over a week. Yet ironically, dear old mum has managed to stay healthy amidst an endless disposal of sick buckets and snotty tissues. Like most mums, I can’t afford to get sick because seriously, who’s going to look after me if I crash and burn? Therefore, I recently put my germ warfare strategies into action and managed to stay healthy in a house full of sick people. All without the slightest hint of a sniffle!

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Luckily, I trained as a nurse for a year and a lot of the training surrounded germ and disease control – and not just the everyday cold and flu, but more serious infections like golden staph, hepatitis and HIV. Regardless of the type of infection, however, the strategies to reduce the chance of catching anything is very similar. While a lot is basic hygiene, there are some other immune boosters I use around my home. They not only keep me healthy but get sick family members back on their feet faster. That’s a win, win for everyone!

Basic hygiene

Basic hygiene is stuff like hand washing after using the toilet or before cooking. While I’m in the company of sick people I make sure I wash my hands way more often. For example, if someone is bed ridden (like my family has been) I’ll wash my hands after dealing with them every time.

Overkill? Not really. Imagine if I were to throw out dirty tissues from my sons room and then get asked to grab my partner a couple of pain killers and a glass of water? They’re innocent tasks that we do without thinking, but if I go from one to another without washing my hands, I’d be transferring germs from one to another without them having any contact.

Luckily, in a household situation I know they’re sick so I take precautions. Cross contamination happens so frequently in public places and that makes hand washing really important. Then there’s other basics like always covering your mouth when sneezing and coughing. These are simple things we learn but essential in germ warfare, whether it be a common cold or Ebola.

Get some fresh air!

Many people avoid going outside in winter because it’s just so damn cold. However, a bit of fresh air is really good for you. So on days when the suns out, get outside when you can. So many of us rely on air-conditioning units to stay warm in places like offices, malls and our homes, yet these systems are excellent breading grounds for bacteria. Getting outside is a great way to boost your immune system and provide a bit of vitamin D if you’re lucky.

Using steam to clear your airways

You don’t need a vaporiser to be able to use steam to clear your airways – there are some excellent alternatives. Bathrooms offer a room full of steam, which is great if you start to feel congested. Another option is a bucket of hot water covered with a towel. I have wood heating and place a large saucepan of water on top of the unit with either with a drop of eucalyptus or a dash of chest rub in it. You can also do this with a saucepan on the stove.

Not only does this make the house smell great but eucalyptus is an awesome disinfectant. When you use it to vaporise the air, it’s like pumping clean air into your home which not only prevents illness but also helps heal the sick. It’s also a very strong and a natural cleaner; so when wiping over benches add a drop of eucalyptus to your cloth and it will prevent germs from spreading.

Homemade chicken soup

No, this isn’t an old wives tale! Apparently there has been significant medical evidence on the benefits of homemade chicken soup. For one, it can thin mucus and make it easy to expel. It’s also packed with easy to digest nutrition such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and sulfur. Furthermore, it’s good for your gut and great for inflammation. So why specifically homemade and not bought broth varieties? Well homemade is cooked slower and therefore the chicken can release more healing properties.

Final tip

The last thing to remember is that when you do feel something itching to strike, STAY HOME! Chances are if you do head out to work, study or socialise, you’ll ultimately get sick. That twinge we usually feel before we get ill is the immune system giving us a warning. It’s trying to say that it’s under pressure and fighting some bug, so take extra precautions.

If you learn to listen to your body you’ll instinctively know the signs. Either be very vigilant if you really need to go out, or stay home and give your immune system the best possible chance to fight it.  This will not only reduce any time off in the immediate future, but it will also lessen the chances of you passing your germs along to someone else. Unfortunately, it’s because sick people go out in public that we have a cold and flu season in the first place.

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A Busy Girl’s Guide To Staying Healthy

A full schedule can really push your diet and exercise routine to the bottom of the list. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little discipline, you can combine a healthy lifestyle with a busy one. Here’s how:

1. Set an alarm
Getting up early is highly praised habit of healthy and happy people. Don’t wake up with only enough time to put on your clothes and brush your teeth before you’re out the door. Use your mornings efficiently to prepare for the rest of the day. Think of all the things you can achieve with an extra hour in the morning! Exercise, prepare your lunch, or just sit and read to clear your mind before the day ahead.

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2. Eat a good breakfast
I know you have heard this before, but eating a large, healthy breakfast really is the best way to start your day. It kickstarts your metabolism and gives you the energy to make it through the morning until lunch. Optimize your breakfast by eating carbs and low GI foods.

3. Choose lunch carefully
While it’s often healthier and certainly more economical to pack your own lunch, we understand that busy girls don’t always have the time for this. Therefore, when it comes to lunch, try selecting the healthiest option. Don’t go for the burrito today – eat a sandwich instead. Swap those noodles for some sushi or get the turkey sub instead of meatballs! Whatever you do – stay away from the fast food!

4. You only need 30 minutes of exercise a day
I really envy those people who love exercise (come on, do you really?), but most of us struggle to find the motivation. Just remember that doing something is better than nothing, and it only takes 30 minutes to get a decent workout. Walk, run, skip, stretch, do pilates – just do something! A great way to sneak some exercise into the daily grind is simply to walk. Walk to the train station or bus stop instead of driving, don’t get a cab two blocks, don’t eat lunch at the closest cafeteria – try the one five minutes down the road. Especially those of you working at a desk – use those breaks to stretch your legs and get your blood pumping.

5. Download a meditation app
A healthy mind is key to your wellbeing. You only need five or ten minutes to sit-down, relax and center yourself, and it could turn your whole day around. Try these on for size.

6.  Prepare
Take an hour or two out of your weekend to cut up vegetables to snack on  during the week. Make a meal plan and do your grocery shopping. Cook a large soup, curry or pasta dish that will provide leftovers for a few more meals. Incorporating healthy-eating into a busy schedule is all about using your time efficiently!

7. Swap coffee for herbal tea
Even the best of us sometimes need a coffee in the morning. But for those of you having more than one or two every day – make one of those a green tea. Herbal teas are full of antioxidants that cleanse your body, and will also keep you more hydrated than coffee.

10 Ways To Fight A Cold

It’s easy to become run down during the cold and flu season, but many of us are feeling the effects of a cold coming into spring. If you’ve caught a cold, here are 10 healthy tips that may help you fight it quickly so you can get back to feeling your best.

1.       Rug up
It may sound simple enough, but keeping warm between seasons is key to fighting off the common cold. Dress warmly, particularly if heading out after dark! 

2.       In bed? Elevate your head
Adding an extra pillow under your head at night can help to alleviate coughs and ease sinus pressure. Make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep every night and apply Vicks VapoRub before bed to help relieve nasal congestion  and minor muscle aches for a good night’s sleep.

3.       Wash your hands
The surest way to catch a cold is to catch the germs that cause the cold. In fact, hand-washing is so important in eliminating germs, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention made official guidelines! 

4.       Calm itching throats
Don’t let a dry, itchy throat stop you from going about your daily tasks. Coat your throat with the naturally-flavoured range of Vicks VapoNaturals throat drops.  For 2-in-1 relief, try Vicks VapoDrops to soothe your throat and clear your nose.

5.       Drink plenty of water
Be especially vigilant about drinking at least six to eight glasses of water a day during the cold and flu season. Water keeps your digestion working well, flushes the system and helps fights fatigue. 

6.       Love your shower
Care for a stuffy head by running a hot shower or bath and let the steam fill the room; a simple trick that might even help you breathe easier! 

7.       Be prepared
Coughs and sniffles can be a nuisance. Be prepared by keeping your favourite Vicks products on hand for when symptoms strike. If you’re out and about, carry Vicks Sinex with you for quick and effective relief from a blocked nose for up to 12 hours. 

8.       Keep exercise to a minimum
Gentle exercise is ok if you’re fighting cold symptoms, the simple act of sweating can help expel harmful germs, but if you have a fever, give your gym shoes a rest.

 9.       Eat for relief
Hot soups and drinks can work wonders for clearing a stuffy nose.

10.   Be patient
Give your body time to recover!

What are your best tips for relieving cold and flu symptoms?

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