Prevention rather than cure: how to steer clear of coughs and colds this winter

As we enter the flu season, I realise I’m lucky and have rarely succumbed to a cold or even worse, the flu. But this wasn’t always the case.For many years I suffered from constant coughs, colds, post nasal drip and sore throats – it would be my area of weakness and each time it would lay me quite low for up to 10 days at a time perhaps as much as every month or every 6 weeks.  Not good when you need to be on top form – at the time I had a senior corporate job in London,  was commuting at least 2 hours a day, was a JP in my local community and had a young child so taking time off was not an option.

So I suppose I was pushing myself to the limits but I still have just as hectic a lifestyle today with international travel and I don’t get sick nearly as often.

So what has made the difference?

    1. Cutting out diary– my go to breakfast was a Greek/natural yoghurt with some fruit and granola on top. Dairy, however, as I have since learnt, can lead to increased mucous production and cutting this out meant my body didn’t produce as much mucous and the post nasal drip just disappeared. When I do have a cold now it tends not to be quite so heavy.
    2. Cutting back on exercise – I used to push myself to exercise intensely – circuits, personal training sessions, a lot of high intensity and I think when you are exercising an already exhausted body it was just too much. These days I’m better at ‘reading’ my body. My exercise regime is now much more balanced and I incorporate gentle exercise, Yoga and Pilates and when I do high intensity interval activities I do it for a maximum of 10 minutes at a time – AND guess what, I am the leanest I’ve ever been. So an important lesson for me – working out harder was not actually working our SMARTER for me.
    3. Scheduling some down time- I take better care of myself and I’m better at listening to my body and when I feel tired I rest, making a point of scheduling in some time to do nothing during my weekends. This might take the form of reading a book or watching a film on a Sunday afternoon. In other words I don’t keep going till the battery runs to zero – I make sure I recharge before the hectic week ahead.
    4. Turning to natural remedies. If I know I’ve got to travel, or I’ve been burning the candle at both ends or I’m feeling that I’m sickening for something, I tend to up my ‘anti illness armoury” to boost my immunity . This for me is:
    5. Getting a good night’s rest – and for me this is indulging in a mug of Golden Tea before bed, having a hot shower or bath (espom salts with some essential oils – lavender or ylang ylang ensures I’m fully relaxed). And making sure I’m in bed by 9 pm to read for half an hour before turning off the lights by 9.30pm

I’d love to hear what strategies keep you germ free this winter

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