Sunday, January 29, 2012

Winter is Beautiful -- Except for the Viruses

Winter can be such a beautiful season: crisp and bright and still.

I might complain occasionally of the cold or the cabin-fever brought on by a snowstorm, but all in all, winter isn’t too high on my hate-list.  Of course, my sometimes-fondness for winter isn’t hurt any by the mild season we’ve been having this year.

But for all its beauty, winter has the ability to bring me to my knees.  The dry air and lack of sunshine creates the perfect environment in which sickness thrives.  Having small children, I sometimes think of winter and its accompanying viruses as a minefield.  One we must navigate with stealth and cunning if we are to avoid the worst of the season’s offerings.

Even if your family chooses to vaccinate against the flu, the vaccine isn’t one-hundred percent guaranteed to protect.  Plus, there are numerous other viruses making the rounds each year, meaning that we must take matters into our own hands as much as we are able. 

Here are some simple ways to keep winter’s minions from felling your house with sickness:

Wash your hands
We’ve all heard this mantra before, and with good reason: it’s scientifically proven to remove the germs that would infect us before they can reach our noses or mouths.  If the virus isn’t on your hands, it’s less likely to take up residence in your body.  Wash several times per day with warm water and regular soap to rid your hands of their ability to spread germs.

Turn and cover
It’s almost as useless to cough into a hand as it is to cough without covering at all.  The germs on a cough-catching palm are easily transferable to doorknobs, toys, and friends.  Teach your kids to turn away and cough into their elbows instead, trapping the germs in an out of reach area.

Fuel up

Feed your family foods that are proven to boost immunity.  Load up on onions, garlic, citrus, probiotic yogurts, black tea, bell peppers, fish, and oats.  Eating chicken soup is no joke: the hot, salty broth can thin mucous secretions while the iron and protein in chicken can strengthen blood cells and aid in antibody production.  Be sure to supplement with plenty of Vitamin D (ask your doctor for correct dosages) as its components help our bodies fight illness.  

Count (healthy) sheep
To be able to fight off viruses easily, our bodies need to be well-rested.  Get your kids to bed at regular or even slightly early times during the winter months.  If a virus has already taken hold, keep little ones home in bed to let their bodies heal while keeping their germs contained.

Stay Hydrated
When your body – cells, organs, and skin – is well hydrated, it’s harder for viruses to take hold.  Moist mucous membranes trap the germs that would burrow into our system, causing sickness.  Drink mostly water – all day long – supplemented by hot tea and a little bit of fruit juice, especially those that are naturally full of vitamins, like orange juice. 

Nothing is a foolproof guarantee against our families getting sick during the dry, cold winter season, but implementing these practices to stay healthy can only improve our chances.  

Which, in turn, has the ability to keep winter just as it should be: beautiful and bright.

[Originally published here.]

What does your family do to avoid winter germs?  Share your tips and tricks!


  1. Ugh! How many months until summer? Winter colds are nasty!

    You should put mango on your list of immune-boosting foods though. I read somewhere once (but don't quote me!), that mango is the only fruit that literally *killed* the cold virus during some study recently. I have no idea if it's true, but isn't that interesting?

  2. Lots of great ideas! Thanks for sharing! As for winter, I am not a fan! Although, it has been a strangely mild winter for us so far. Still, I'm looking forward to spring and summer!


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?