T’is the season for colds and flus to halt productivity. Alison Tritschler offers advice on how to stay well this winter.
Now the nights are drawing in and the weather is getting colder many of us find that coughs, colds and lethargy starts to set in. You need to recharge, but when you’re running a business, it’s difficult to take time off. So, what can we do to prevent feeling run down?
Supporting Your Immune System
Our immune system is extremely complex, but essentially it protects our bodies from attack, and we need it to be in balance. In the current climate, where so much is out of our control, here are some top tips you can use to help support your immune health:
Lifestyle advice for wellbeing
1. Reduce stress levels – there is no doubt that having your own business can be stressful, but there are actions you can take to minimise stress levels. Having a structure and plan for your day will help reduce any feeling of overwhelm. Know when to step back and take a break. Take 5-10 minutes to do some deep breathing, meditation or even just a break for a cup of tea. Getting out in nature also has a really positive impact on emotional wellbeing.
2. Reduce alcohol intake – this can deplete the body of a healthy immune system. Maybe consider cutting out alcohol during the week and stick to 1-2 units at weekends.
3. Exercise – when we exercise it releases endorphins which promotes good immune health. Stimulating blood flow also has a positive impact on your gastro-intestinal tract which is important.
Many of us have become more sedentary, especially if you’re working from home. Try and take a break from your desk for 5 minutes every hour. Find time for a walk, either before you start work or take half an hour during the day. There are now many online fitness classes available, either live or recorded. Find something you enjoy and you’re more likely to stick at it regularly.
4. Keep hydrated – we should be drinking 2-3 litres of water every day. Staying hydrated has been shown to have a positive impact on your immune system.
5. Sleep – our bodies need to time repair and restore for the day ahead. A good 8 hours of restful sleep can make all the difference to your health and having a productive day. Turn off any electronic devices an hour before bedtime, try a relaxing herbal tea or diffusing an essential oil such as lavender to soothe away the stress of the day.
Diet advice for wellbeing
Around 60-70% of our immune system is found in our gut. In fact, so many of our bodily functions are regulated in the gut, it’s been known to be called our second brain! So, fuelling our bodies with good nutrients and having a healthy gut to absorb those nutrients is key.
1. Nutrition – It’s all too easy to reach for sugary snacks when working at home – the kitchen is never far away! So, what should we be eating?
Foods high in vitamins C, B6, B12, and D help contribute to the normal function of the immune system, as well as iron, folate and zinc. These can be found in foods like citrus fruits, berries, bananas, dark greens, sweet potatoes, red meat, avocado and wholegrains. Why not try making a smoothie for an afternoon snack instead of reaching for the biscuits!
During the winter months our bodies have particular difficulty producing enough Vitamin D from sunlight so looking for a good quality supplement is useful, as well as eating oily fish and eggs.
2. Good gut health – we all have trillions of microorganisms and bacteria in our bodies, mainly in the intestines. Known as our microbiome, it plays a key role in healthy immune function.
Prebiotics – Eating foods high in dietary fibres such as onions, garlic, asparagus, banana, wholegrains and legumes help ‘feed’ the good bacteria in your gut. Interestingly, Aloe Vera also works as a prebiotic as the inner leaf gel contains a unique polysaccharide – Acemannan!
Probiotic – Eating foods such as live yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha or taking a good probiotic supplement will populate the gut with more good bacteria.
As entrepreneurs and small business owners it’s even more important to look after your health, because if you’re not functioning well, who will run your business?! Making some small changes to your lifestyle and diet can have a really positive impact on your wellbeing enabling you can concentrate on what’s important.