Self Care for Increased Immunity this Fall

 
self care blog
 

This is my favorite time of the year! The leaves are bursting with beautiful shades of bright oranges, yellows and reds. The days become shorter and the temperature starts to drop. 

This is also when our schedules become jam packed. We are busier than ever with kids, deadlines, balancing schedules and, well, life! As a result, we end up getting less sleep, feeling run down and the next thing you know, BAM you have a cold.

Here are a few tips to keep you feeling your best as you enter into November and the holiday season.

1. Get 7-8 hours of sleep. Wait, I thought we just talked about how busy we all are, but yet you are still telling me to sleep? Yes, I am:) You are welcome! We must give ourselves permission to take care of ourselves. Our need for sleep changes with the seasons. As we prepare to head into the winter, this means less hours of sunlight, less vitamin D, which throws off our entire circadian rhythm. Less sunlight, means less melatonin production, the hormone that tells your body to sleep. However, most people feel the pull towards putting on pajamas and going to bed earlier when it is dark at 5 or 6. I say, go for it! Get in your pjs after dinner and head to bed at 8 or 9 if that is what you need and your schedule allows for that.

Also, try shutting off all electronic devices, such as computers, iPhones, televisions and other electronics 30-60 minutes before bedtime. The blue lights emitted from these can stimulate the brain, making it hard to sleep. You can also try taking a bath with lavender oil or a shower before bed to help you wind down.

2. Drink plenty of water.  We all know we should be drinking more water, yet we still find it  challenging to do so.  Drinking water allows your blood to flow properly through your body ensuring your cells are getting adequate oxygen so your organs can function at their peak level. Proper hydration also helps in the production of lymph (the fluid that contains white blood cells and other bacteria-fighting cells that keep you healthy). 

The recommended amount of water is half your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, then you should be drinking 75 ounces of water per day. This amount will vary depending on activity level, but this is the goal. 

Not a fan of water? Try putting a few pieces of fruit in your water bottle for natural flavoring. Some of my favorites are strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, cucumber, mint, lemon, lime or a combination of these. I also like to use essential oils in my water, such as lemon, peppermint, and wild orange. Email me to learn more.

3. Exercise. Ah, exercise, you know the thing we all know we should be doing more of, yet don't seem to have the time. Exercise is another really important way to keep your immune system strong. It helps flush bacteria out of the lungs and airway reducing the chances of getting a cold or the flu. It is also a great way to reduce stress which can lower your immunity.

Don't have time for the gym? Try taking a walk during your lunch hour. It allows you to get outside into the fresh air, get some much needed vitamin D, helps clear your mind and is a great reset for the rest of the day. Yoga is my personal favorite as it can be done anywhere, even at your desk. Try a few neck and shoulder rolls, slow, deep breaths, forward folds and gentle twists all while at your desk if you can't get a break. If you can, opt for an entire class. You will leave feel physically and emotionally refreshed and more calm. Ahhhh, sounds nice huh!

4. Diet. Oh, I will start eating better on Monday! Sounds familiar? How many Mondays have past, yet you find yourself still too busy to make healthy foods? Eating whole foods from the earth, such as fruits, vegetables, meats (if you eat meat) eggs and whole grains, all preferable local, organic and non-GMO are best. A general rule of thumb, shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Everything in the middle tends to be processed, inflammatory food.  Lastly, I love cooking with herbs such as garlic, ginger and turmeric as they are natural anti-inflammatory foods which boost immunity. Chop some up and throw it into a soup, stir fry or smoothie.

Try preparing meals during the weekend or the night before so after a long day you can come home to a healthy choice rather than winding up getting take out or purchasing a lean cuisine for convenience. I am loving my crock pot as I find myself so busy and struggling like most folks to find the time and energy to cook at night. I have been loving this pumpkin chili recipe as I simply throw everything in the crockpot before I go to bed and wake up to a kitchen filled with yummy smells and I am good to go for lunch or dinner that day. See recipe below.

5. "Me" time. Making time for yourself is the hands down most important thing you can do for yourself as well as your loved ones and coworkers. Just as you plug your phone in to charge overnight as it is low on energy, you too need to recharge. We live in a world where being busy is the new norm and the more you get done, the more successful you are. However, this level of running around from one event to the next, from the time you wake up until you get home at night, is simply not sustainable. Your cortisol (primary stress hormone) levels will increase, your immune system will be struggling, causing increased inflammation in the body increasing your chances of getting sick.

Try taking a bath with epsom salt and lavender essential oil, taking at least five minutes to sit and deep breath or meditate, journaling or anything else that helps you feel more relaxed and ready to sleep.

Hopefully these tips will help you get through the next few months feeling healthy and well. 

Pumpkin chili recipe

  • 1.5 pounds of organic ground beef, bison or turkey (a package of tofu if vegetarian)
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
  • 1/2 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 14 ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 1 large onion)
  • 1 large zucchini- chopped into cubes
  • 1 large yellow squash-chopped into cubes
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper- diced
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup organic chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/5 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/5 teaspoon cayenne (optional, more if you like spicy)
  • 1 1/5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon salt (I like Himalayan pink salt- to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (I like fresh ground- to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Heat coconut oil in large pan or dutch oven on medium-high heat. 
  2. Add onions and peppers, salute until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, cook for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the ground beef, using spatula or spoon to break up meat, cooking until meat is cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. (If using tofu- dry using a cloth to remove excess water, then cook in pan until broken up and brown, about 5 minutes).
  5. Drain any excess juice/fat then transfer to the crockpot.
  6. Add remaining ingredients, stir and cover.
  7. Set heat to low and cook 6-7 hours.

I like to serve this with chopped cilantro and avocado on top.


*I found a version of this recipe on the Whole 30 program Instagram page, but added some veggies for my liking.
**You can also add a can of kidney beans if desired


Can you commit to incorporating one or two things from this list?

I am only an email away if you have any questions or need any support. info@kathrynfordrichter.com.

Wishing you good health,
Kathryn