I was talking about the flu, what f word were you thinking of? Sheesh, get your head out of the gutter. :) Anyway, my little guy was very, very sick on Friday, and I opted not to take him to the doctor (this time of year, the ER room and doctor's offices are a cesspool of germs). He is back to his usual wild three year old self again today, and I have thoroughly cleaned every surface of my home, washed all the linens, and have the windows wide open. Lots of prayers we manage to ward off any lingering germs and that no one else gets sick. But Friday got me thinking about the flu, I mean tis the season, and I started to think about how fortunate we are that so far, none of my kids have had the flu.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, January and February are the peak season months for the flu. Uhm yuck. Now I am NOT a nurse or a doctor, but (knock on wood) my family is usually pretty healthy. Sure, my kids get the common cold periodically but my little guy's tummy bug he succumbed to on Friday was very rare, though we did have a bought with a nasty tummy bug last year, but typically we stay pretty healthy. Here are the top eight ways we manage to stay relatively healthy. This, and LOTS of praying. And again, I am NOT in the medical field, just a mom of three healthy kids.
1. Wash your hands regularly. That’s easy enough right? Hand washing was one of the most significant discoveries of the 1800’s and there’s a reason for that. Remind your children before you send them off to school to wash their hands before lunch, after they use the bathroom, and even suggest they use a paper towel to open doors if need be. Public places are often cesspools for germs, but simply taking the time to wash your hands regularly can be very helpful to your overall health and warding off nasty germs.
2. Get enough rest. Sleep is vital to your health. Without proper rest, your body cannot perform at its best and can become more susceptible to illness. Make sure your children are getting plenty of rest, but don’t forget to put yourself to bed at a decent hour too. Sometimes, in order to get the rest you need, you may just have to say ‘no’. Don’t try and take on too much. There are only so many hours in a day, and it doesn’t do anybody any good if you are all exhausted.
3. Keep the stress to a minimum. Easier said than done right? One of the biggest killers in society is heart disease which has been linked to stress, so do yourself a favor and stop stressing! Again, like being sleep deprived when your body is stressed out, you are more prone to illness. Stress has actually been proven to be an immune system suppressor. Yikes! Stress seems to come with the territory these days, but do you and your family a favor and reduce the stress level. You may need to delegate tasks to each family member to help accomplish household chores. Or you may need to skip some chores all together. You may have to (kindly) tell your boss at work that you need a lesser workload. You may need to opt out of some of the clubs or organizations you are in. You may need to take up yoga. Or drinking. No, I'm just kidding. Don't do that.
Unless it really helps.
4. Exercise. This is twofold. Exercise is a great stress reliever but also helps to keep the body healthy. It’s easy to fall off the exercise wagon in the winter when it’s so cold out, but this is when the flu is rampant so it is of the utmost importance. You can utilize indoor work out DVD’s, you could walk your dog (just dress accordingly), you can split wood for your fireplace, you can run up and down the stairs in your house. The possibilities are endless. Get your kids involved, keep them active, and keep fighting off the flu. We just went on a nice long family walk, and one of my resolutions this year is to walk three days a week. No comment on my success with that resolution so far. And I think the fresh air is always a good thing too.
5. Eat your fruits and veggies. Again, during the holiday season where baked goods are in excess, this is much easier said than done. But vegetables and fruits have so many essential vitamins for your body to help keep you healthy, you can’t afford to not eat them. You crave what you eat, so it may take a little time, but eventually if you grab an apple or carrot sticks to snack on, you will have forgotten about wanting cookies or ice cream. And while sweets are not horrible in moderation, it’s important to fill your belly and your children’s bellies with real foods. Not junk food. I don't mind my kids eating goldfish or cheeseballs as long as they have more fruits and veggies than junk food each day. I also give my kids a pepper each day for lunch. I swear by it. Peppers actaully have more vitamin C than oranges, and I really think this helps with their overall health.
6. Drink plenty of water. Your body is made mostly of water and H2O is vital to your existence. Your doctor probably inquires on your daily intake whenever you see him or her. Drink less coffee and soda (even though it tastes so good!) and fill up on more water. Your body will thank you for it. This is another resolution for myself. Micah has always been a really good water drinker, but I struggle with my addiction to coffee. My addiction is actually to the coffee creamer I put in my coffee, but that's just splitting hairs. I will say that I always feel so much better personally when I consume mostly water each day, and I seem to have fewer headaches. Again, I'm not a doctor, but water: it's a good thing.
7. Stay in. Sometimes one of the best ways to prevent the flu is to not expose yourself to it. Your children have to go school, BUT they can avoid other public places. You may have to skip a few weeks of church or you may have to say no to the mall (difficult as that may be). You might even have to tell your friends that you can’t make it to dinner; at least until the worst of flu season has passed.
8. Incorporate more garlic in your diet. Strange but true. Garlic has a multitude of health benefits and purposes, not just to fend off vampires. I went over to do an interview the other day at a farm that specializes in healthy, organic living and they were raving about garlic. In fact, the farmer's plant close to 4,000 garlic bulbs per year! The Mann’s understand how excellent garlic is for the body as an overall health booster. It’s been said that the Greeks fed garlic to their Olympians before competition. Garlic tablets are available if you have picky eaters, but garlic can be very easily added into many dishes. Eat plenty of garlic, your body will again thank you for it. But be sure to have plenty of breath mints on hand, your friends will thank you for it.
Of course even if you do everything right, it’s possible the flu may still affect your family. However, the better health you are in, the faster your body will recover. The majority of the above tips are simply common sense, but it’s easy to forget and sometimes little reminders are necessary. You may even find that once flu season has passed you’d like to continue practicing some of these tips to keep up your general health. Good luck and may the flu skip your home altogether this year.
~ Sarah ~