Winter is well and truly here! Which means almost everyone I know has some kind of cold/flu bug.
I’m currently getting over pleurisy, which was a nasty complication from a viral infection, so I’ve been doing all I can to give my immune system a boost. I mean, I normally eat a pretty healthy, nutritious diet, and look after my body anyway, but right now I’m really trying to help my body recover.
So I thought you might like to know what I recommend for giving your immune system a bit of a boost. First of all, let me say that if you are seriously unwell then you need to see a doctor – I’m definitely not one of those people who believes that a bowl of spinach can cure major illnesses. I’m just giving this advice for anyone who feels like they might be coming down with a cold and wants to try to kick its butt before they end up stuck in bed trying to recall what it felt like to be able to breathe through both nostrils.
So, what do I recommend?
1. Listen to your body…and pay attention to what it’s saying
You’ve probably read this particular piece of advice hundreds, if not thousands, of times before. And you’re probably thinking “yeah yeah, I listen to my body”. But do you really? I used to tell people I listened to my body, thinking I genuinely did, but then I’d carry on with what I was going to do anyway regardless of what my body was telling me. Simply put, I did LISTEN to my body – I just didn’t ACT on what it was telling me. I was foolish.
Now I truly do listen to my body. I mean, I actually walked out of the gym a few weeks ago after only having started my workout less than five minutes before, because my body didn’t feel right. I never would’ve done that before! I would have pushed on with the full workout and then wondered why I felt like junk for the rest of the day.
2. Get enough sleep…and make sure it’s good quality
Someone recently asked me how much is ‘enough’ sleep. Honestly, I have no idea. There are various studies on this, and we’ve all been told at some point that we should get at least 8 hours sleep a night, but the truth is everybody is different.
I LOVE sleep! I have genuinely got 10 hours sleep before on numerous occasions and still woken up wanting more. But then I do have ME/CFS, so that probably plays a big part in it.
Anyway, the truth is you’ll know if you’re getting enough sleep. Your body will tell you. If you’re starting to fall asleep on the sofa most evenings as soon as you get home from work, or if you feel absolutely horrendous every time your morning alarm goes off, your body might be telling you to go to bed earlier…or maybe to get better quality sleep.
If your mattress is really old, or your pillows are lumpy and uncomfortable it can affect your quality of sleep. Or maybe you don’t take time to wind down before getting into bed, so when you close your eyes you’re still wired.
Something I found that really helps with my quality of sleep is reading a book when I go to bed. And if I’m still struggling to switch off from the day’s activities I’ll spend a few minutes meditating before I go to sleep. A few years ago, I would’ve laughed if someone had told me I would start meditating, but honestly, it’s brilliant!
Even just taking five or ten deep breaths where you focus purely on your breathing before you nod off can really help you relax.
3. Make sure you’re getting plenty of nutrients in your diet
Don’t worry – I’m not going to demand that you start eating bags and bags of kale, because nobody wants to do that! But take a look at your diet and check that you’re eating plenty of nutritious foods.
I know I don’t always manage it! So I recently started taking supplements from Link Nutrition to help make sure I get the vitamins and minerals I need every day. Link Nutrition asked if I fancied trying them, and one of the main reasons I agreed was because they’re food-based with no fillers or binders. No junk, basically.
Anyway, if you’re on a budget (like pretty much all of us are) and can only afford one of these products, I’d recommend buying the Multi Plus as that has a load of vitamins and minerals in it.
The Multi Plus contains vitamins A, C, B12, B6, D, zinc, folate and selenium to boost immunity; vitamin E, selenium, copper, vitamin C, riboflavin and zinc to protect your cells from oxidative stress; and vitamin B12, folate, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, niacin, riboflavin and vitamin C to help reduce fatigue. You definitely get a lot for your money with this one!
I’ve been taking each of these vitamins every morning for the past few weeks, and it’s great knowing I’ve got a hit of nutrients before I even jump in the shower. With everything I’ve been doing to look after my body, I’m definitely starting to feel better now, and my doctor has finally given me the all-clear to exercise again.
4. Try to minimise stress…seriously, do your best
Initially, I didn’t have the word ‘try’ in this point, and then I thought seriously, if minimising stress was something we could do without any effort then none of us would EVER be stressed!
Some stress is unavoidable. I’m a single mum who works part time in employment and part time self-employed, so I fully understand that those gurus who tell us we shouldn’t be stressed at all seem to be talking poop. BUT some stress IS avoidable.
I’m talking about the kind of stress that we bring on ourselves by things like overthinking – I’m guilty of it too. I’m currently reading a great book that’s all about deciding what is worth your time and energy, and I’m working on refusing to waste any stress on the things that ultimately don’t matter. Stress can really impact the immune system, so do your best to not let things get you worked up unless they really matter.
5. Exercise regularly…but don’t overdo it
Before anyone thinks I’m going to answer the age-old debate about whether it’s safe to exercise when you’re ill, everyone is different and every condition is different. If you have the flu then there’s no chance you’ll even be able to make it out of the house, let alone start throwing weights around in the gym! But if you’re just feeling a little under the weather then a light workout, or maybe even just a walk might help to pick you up.
Take it from me though (as I learnt this the hard way), don’t make the mistake of thinking your body can handle the same thing when you’re ill as when you’re fully healthy. You might feel fine initially, but you’ll end up taking way longer to recover.
But that being said, I often do find that a light workout gives me a little boost. If I start feeling something like a cold coming on then I will usually give the gym a miss, and go for a walk instead.
If you’re wondering how soon it’s safe to return to the gym after you’ve been unwell, the truth is that ultimately, this comes down to listening to your body…and without even meaning to I’ve done a full circle back to the first point on this post. Damn, I feel smooth now!
If you want to know more about the Link Nutrition vitamins, click here. Have a great day, and remember to not only listen to your body, but to act on what it’s telling you to do.
This post was sponsored by Link Nutrition, but the views are all my own.