May: How to Acclimatize Your Body, Strengthen your Immune System and Prevent Cold’s and Flu’s
Welcome to part 2 of Seasonal Living for May. The month of May is a transitional period of the year where the last warmth of summer disappears, and the autumn wind carries us into the coldest part of the year, a time of the year where rest and repair are at the forefront.
Winter is cold, winter is dark and winter is wet; when is there a better time in the year to rug up and add a little more time for rest and repairing into your routine?
Just because there is less sunlight and the weather is a little bit colder, however doesn’t mean that winter is a time for sickness and sadness; people get sick at all times of the year. I usually get sick when the seasons are changing, which struck me as odd, why would I get sick in the warming months to spring as opposed becoming ill when the winter months were at their harshest? This lead me to research how to adapt my diet and lifestyle according to the seasons, or to learn how I could better adapt to nature.
Living a Holistic Lifestyle to Strengthen Your Immune System
As a Holistic Health Coach, I teach my clients about the importance of what it means to practice being healthy as a lifestyle. I encourage that my clients create a healthy work-space and healthy relationships as well as eating healthy foods, because as I have experienced throughout my life, when one aspect of my life is out of balance, the other aspects will soon follow.
In Part 1 of Seasonal living, I broke life into four categories: Career, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Relationships. In Part 1, I discussed the ways in which you can strengthen your immune system and acclimatize your body by improving your work life and by eating better nutrition. This week we will continue to discuss ways to combat the winter blues further in the categories Physical Activity and Relationships.
Seasonal Living and Physical Activity
Get the Juices Flowing for a Strong Immune System
Ever heard of the saying ‘get the juices flowing’? I’m sure what they’re talking about is getting your lymphatic system pumping with some good old fashion exercise.
The lymphatic system follows your circulatory system around the body, only it doesn’t have a heart to pump it, the lymphatic system is pumped around via kinetic energy or exercise. The more you move, the quicker your white blood cells and T-cells can squash the virus or cold about to get you! Not only that, but exercising also improves circulation, strengthens your entire body and it calms and centres your mind (also good to prepare for an intense day at work).
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine and many other ancient medicinal practices like Ayurveda, winter is a time for moving inwards and for rest – this is reflected in nature by the shorter days and hibernation - and so we should adjust our exercise routines accordingly. Don’t get too upset with yourself if you feel more tired than usual at this time of year.
Physical Activity for the cold winter months
If you want to adjust to the season of winter, choosing exercise regimes that are a little bit easier on the body are ok for this time of year like yoga, pilates, walking or swimming. Or if you still want to pump as much iron as possible you could also choose a regime that has big emphasis on a longer warm-up, you guessed it, to warm-up the body slower in the colder conditions.
In terms of acclimatizing your body to the colder weather, I try to get outside as much as possible so that my body is always aware of what nature is up to. Rug up as much as needed, you don’t have to be a Canadian drinking a cold beer in minus 20 degrees, that’s crazy talk. Here are some suggestions:
Tip 1: Move a little bit everyday
Even if you are only walking for 10 minutes a day, a little bit here and there goes a long way, especially when you’re trying to combat those winter blues. Get outside in nature as much as possible, there is so much beauty, fresh air and freedom that will help alleviate those low moods. By getting outside you are allowing your body to acclimatize directly to the seasons so you that you can adapt and fight that common cold. However, being that it is getting colder, rug up as much as you need when venturing out into the wild – our ancestors still wore furs outside when they were cold, so we should still rug up too.
Tip 2: Choose an exercise activity that is fun and right for you
We don’t all have to be marathon runners and we don’t all have to be super yogis either. There are so many different ways to move that there has got to be a sport out there that you will absolutely love to do! Living out in Mandurah with so many jetties, beaches and parks, even just a quick walk will do in empowering you to live a happy and healthy lifestyle.
Give a sport a go that you have never tried before and if you’re nervous then ask a friend to go with you, exercising with a mate is heaps of fun. Here is a link to the local Mandurah Sporting community if you are looking for suggestions https://www.mandurah.wa.gov.au/Facilities/Recreation-Centres/Sports/Clubs-and-Associations but don’t stop here if you don’t find what you are looking for, there are martial arts classes, Yoga, Pilates and Qi Gong classes throughout the Mandurah area also!
Change with your own seasons
Physical Activity is a very broad subject and for good reason, because we are all unique as individuals, in that we all need different foods, activities and careers to keep us happy, healthy and motivated, but as individuals we all constantly change and grow throughout our lifetimes. You will prefer different foods in your twenties from when you were under the age of 10. The same applies to our physical activity levels, as we grow and mature into adulthood and then into old age, our likes and dislikes change, our personalities change and our bodies change. These changes play a huge role in what fitness activities we like to participate in, if any at all.
When I was a teenager, I was very sporty. I never stopped moving and there wasn’t a day in the week when I wasn’t participating in a fast-paced team sport. When I turned 21 however, something changed. Suddenly I didn’t want to run around anymore, I didn’t want to go until was absolutely exhausted. This drove me nuts, because I still wanted to move my body but I just wasn’t motivated to move like I did when I was younger. I was tired and my body needed a rest and it craved change.
After a few months of banging my head against a wall, I finally came across yoga video on Youtube and decided to give it a go. I’m not going to lie to you, I didn’t like yoga the first, second or third time I tried it. I really liked the idea of yoga but I couldn’t get it to stick for some reason. After a week of persistence I found out that I did like yoga, what I really needed was a teacher that resonated with me.
I found Yoga with Adriene, a Youtube channel that really resonated with my maturing and new personality.
My point is that, you as an individual is constantly growing and changing and so should your lifestyle and in this case your physical activity routine, to match who you are in this time in your life. Flow with your seasons my friends.
The goal of these suggestions is to keep your body moving and well oiled so that it is always functioning properly and for an added bonus, if you walk outside in nature not only are you acclimatizing your body to the weather to fight those common colds, but you are also finding time to relax and re-centre yourself in this crazy world.
Seasonal Living and Relationships
The relationship category again is very broad and it encompasses everyone from your family, friends and work colleagues to your significant other and most importantly YOURSELF.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, winter is the time of year to move inwards and to focus on inner growth and self-love, so I think May is the perfect time of year to make your relationship with yourself a strong and loving relationship. As I always say, the best way to improve your relationships with others is to improve your relationship with yourself.
Did you know?
If you need another reason to make sure that are feeling A.O.K then read this for a lark. Did you know that many of the symptoms of depression like insomnia and negative thoughts are said to depress and weaken your immune system. As I mentioned last week in Part 1 stress can be a major factor in depleting your immune system by inhibiting your digestive, waste management and stop healing damaged cells. If you are not healthy in your mind then you soon won’t feel very healthy in your body. This is why it is so important for you to always check-in with yourself and make sure that you are feeling ok. If you are feeling a bit sad, stressed or just a bit rough then ask what it is you can do to make yourself feel better?
Self Care and Self Love
Self love is my number 1 way to boost confidence and happiness levels. If you are feeling good about yourself on the inside then there is a greater chance that you will feel amazing on the outside. If self love feels a little hard to come by for you sometimes then I have the perfect antidote: Self Care!
Self care is when you set time aside just for yourself. In this time it is all about you, so try to let-go of any thoughts about your to do list or about work or the family or school or anything! Self care is time that you put aside just for you.
Self care practices can be anything you like, but really try to focus on what YOU think you need, not what anyone else says that you need. Here are some suggestions to get your imagination started:
These activities are recommended to be done by yourself so you can get to know what you like and dislike and so you don’t accidentally change your opinion to please someone else.
- Take a bath (maybe with some Epsom salts for a magnesium twist)
- Go for a walk (maybe along Silver Sands Beach)
- Buy yourself some flowers
- Listen to music and dance
- Get a massage
- Write in a journal
- Write down what you are grateful for
- Take yourself out to dinner
- Write yourself a love letter
- Do a spring clean
- Go to a movie
- Cook yourself a romantic dinner
- Go for a day trip out of town somewhere beautiful or interesting
Adding in self care and self love into your routine can be challenging at different times of your life but it could never be more essential for you overall health and wellbeing. I would recommend starting small and slowly adding self care practices to your routine as you go along.
The goal here is for you to learn how to appreciate who you are and to realize how special and unique you are, this will increase the number of positive thoughts you have and your immune system will love you for it.
Holistic Living is the Way To Health and Vitality!
Since I was a young teen, I became aware of the benefits of healthy living in all aspects of life. I noticed that whenever I experienced a heavy onslaught of negative emotions, the flu would usually follow and/or I wouldn’t be able to focus in school. I also noticed that when I ate healthier foods I would perform better in sports and in the classroom, this also proved the opposite for when I ate more processed foods I would become lethargic, lazy and emotional.
I hope after reading Part 1 and 2 of Seasonal living for winter you have begun to understand that everything in your life is connected. If you’re not feeling very productive at work, ask yourself if you could improve your diet or your exercise routine. Seasonal living is about reconnecting with nature and most importantly reconnecting with yourself so that you know what you need to thrive on a daily basis no matter what the weather.
Meet Georgie from Newellness! (newellness.com.au)
If you’re considering trying to take on the winter that is near approaching but would like some more support in how you can go about strengthening you immune system and re-acclimatizing your body to the winter season I highly recommend meeting Naturopath and Herbalist Georgie Feodorov. Georgie will be popping into Mandurah Health Supply on the 6th of June and 7th of June between 9am and 2:30pm. Georgie is a walking book of knowledge on the natural systems of the body and will definitely be able to help you give winter a run for its money!
Thankyou for reading my 2 part Seasonal Living, I hope I have given you some inspiration and insight into living through a cold coastal winter and coming out of the storm stronger than ever.
If you did enjoy reading this series then you might like to check out my new website and blog Dare To Ignite at www.daretoignite.weebly.com