Nobody likes getting ill, but coming down with a cough or a cold can be particularly inconvenient for busy mums. After all, the odds of getting a few days recovering in bed is pretty unlikely, whilst statistics suggest that mums with young kids are many times more likely to get ill.
What is a busy mum to do? Fortunately there are some tried and tested ways to stay healthier and avoid those nasty winter bugs, no matter how busy you might be…
Get Enough Sleep
We all know that getting enough sleep can be difficult at the best of times, but crawling out of bed after a few restless hours can do more than making you feel grumpy. Not only can tiredness reduce our reactions to the point that routine activities like driving can become dangerous, but it can also severely impact our immune system.
In one interesting study, scientists monitored the sleep patterns of several hundred people, recording not just how much sleep they got but also how frequently they contracted colds. The results were shocking. As it turns out, the evidence suggests that people managing less than seven hours sleep each night are three times more likely to catch colds than those getting a proper night’s sleep.
So, while it may be a challenge, aim for at least eight hours sleep a night, and enjoy the benefits not just to your health but also your frame of mind. Don’t see getting a proper night’s sleep as a luxury; think of it as a necessary investment in virus avoidance!
Find Ways to Deal With Stress
Just as tiredness can have negative impacts on our immune system, so can excessive stress. Sadly, for many mums stress becomes a way of life; but it’s unlikely to be helping your health.
Investing time into coming up with ways to reduce stress should therefore be considered a vital part of your health regime. Aim for positive activities such as yoga, pilates or spending time with friends, rather than falling into the habit of enjoying a glass of wine each night before bed.
Limit Exposure to Anyone Already Ill
We’re all busy these days, and few of us can afford the luxury of staying home when suffering from coughs and colds. Sadly, this means that sooner or later you’re going to make contact with someone already suffering.
The good news is that there are no guarantees that you yourself will get ill from short-term contact. Evidence suggests that your odds of catching a cold from others is directly proportional to how much time you spend with them. In other words, to limit the chances of catching a cold, try to minimize your contact with anyone already suffering.
If your kids come home from school with the snuffles then things can be a little more difficult. To minimize the chances of the whole family getting affected, consider tucking them up in bed rather than leaving them lounging on the sofa. In this way, the rest of your family should be shielded from the worst of the germs.
Wash Your Hands Thoroughly
There are two common ways that viruses can be passed on; one is the direct route where people cough and sneeze. Sadly, while using a handkerchief may help to reduce airborne germs, it doesn’t protect against the other common source of infection: picking up germs off surfaces.
When someone in your family is ill pay special attention to household hygiene, sterilizing surfaces on a regular basis. Also, try to avoid touching your face with your hands, where germs can be transferred. Common examples are people chewing their fingernails or rubbing their eyes.
Using a hand sanitizer or washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water have been shown to be surprisingly effective for killing off any germs you have picked up.
Many of us don’t get enough water to drink each day. The problem can become worse in winter months when central heating dries out our environment, causing greater loss of moisture.
Implementing a system can help to ensure that you get the NHS-recommended six to eight glasses of fluid per day. For example, make drinking a glass of water your first activity on rising in the morning, and ensure you enjoy at least one glass of water with every meal.
Some busy mums find that keeping a bottle of water containing their recommended daily intake (just over a litre) closeby helps to encourage them to meet their target.
Involve Your Kids in Exercise
Repeated studies have shown that even modest amounts of exercise can help to boost the immune system and keep you healthy. One recent study found that as little as one hour of exercise per week can be beneficial for your health, but many of us struggle to find the time for exercise.
One great solution to this problem is to include your children, and make exercise part of your weekly routine. You could, for example, take the kids swimming on weekends, or just enjoy a dash around the park after school. In this way you can combine the health-giving benefits of exercise with your responsibilities as a parent.
Take Immune-Boosting Supplements
A number of supplements are believed to help fight off colds and coughs. Vitamin C is possibly the best-known of these, though the positive impact seems to be greatest when vitamin c is used as a preventative measure before colds first appear. Other popular supplements among mums include echinacea, garlic and zinc, all of which may have benefits for the immune system.
Lastly, if you find that you’re regularly being affected by ill health, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with your doctor. It is always possible that you are suffering from an underlying condition, which is increasing your likelihood of contracting winter bugs. Your GP will also be able to provide personalized advice on how to keep your immune system firing on all cylinders.
In conclusion, coughs and colds can be thoroughly unpleasant for anyone, but the impacts of getting ill can be particularly inconvenient for busy mums. Luckily, with a few changes to your lifestyle there are ways to significantly reduce your chances of getting ill. Here’s to a cold-free winter!
This article was written by nutritionists at Simply Supplements.
Disclosure; This is a collaborative post