My husband was at the airport last week. He texted me that the woman next to him was coughing. And so was the next person who sat down. So I told him to move and that I was taking him going to make him walk through the car wash in 30 degree weather when he got home. You know… out of love (and self-preservation). While there’s a lot you can’t control during cold and flu season, there are some things you can do to keep your home a healthy space.
Period. End of story. Washing your hands (or if you’re out, using hand sanitizer as a back up) is your best defense during cold and flu season. Make the act of washing your hands appealing. Get a soap dispenser you like and is easy to wipe down. Use soap that has a great scent. My personal favorite is Mrs. Meyer's honeysuckle scent. It’s routine in our house as soon as we come home to wash our hands and occasionally wipe down our phones.
If you want to go one step further, and trust me – I understand this is not practical sometimes –change when you get home if you’ve been near someone who is just generously sharing their cough/sneeze. Keep that outside yuck off of your couch and bed and put it in the laundry basket. Don’t put your purse or coat on the kitchen counter either. And if you want to be poetic about it, you can use changing into house clothes as a wind down ritual.
Depending on where you live, you could be experiencing minor seasonal affective disorder during winter. Here in the Mid-Atlantic the shift that happens in December and January is… disgusting. The green is gone. It’s dark at 4:30. I thrive on the outdoors and greenery. If you’re the same, and you miss greens, bring the outdoors in. For the holiday we hung an evergreen chandelier that smelled amazing. But day to day, potted plants can help clean your air and researchers at the University of Melbourne even found that looking at natural vegetation restores a person’s attention span (Lee, Williams, Sargent, Williams, & Johnson). Not so good at keeping plants alive? Buy some cut flowers for a little dose of happy. It doesn’t need to be a full bouquet. I’m a fan of slender vases and bud vases that let a few stems shine.
A humidifier can help treat skin dryness but also dryness associated with your nose throat and lips. If you’re already sick (bummer) it can also help ease symptoms of a cold or flu. Since we live in an old house which are especially notorious for having dry air, a humidifier is a quick fix adjustment. Just plug it in and go. I’m particularly taken with this Swiss designed Stadler Form OSKAR LITTLE Humidifier which is sleek, small and white and allows you to add an essential oil!
I have to add my dietitian caveat here. While there’s currently no evidence Vitamin C prevents the common cold, we do know that research suggests it could help shorten the length of a cold or the severity of a cold if it’s consumed before you get sick. You know what has a ton of vitamin C? Citrus. One medium sized orange contains over 100% of your daily needs for vitamin C. Luckily, citrus season is smack in the middle of cold season. Put out a variety of citrus in a basket on the counter for easy snacking. We’re a fan of satsuma oranges which will change your life if you’ve never had them before.
Listen. We already talked about how you can do somethings, but not everything, to prevent illness. Have a little kit ready that contains things to ease symptoms, but also clean as needed in one tidy holder. Things like tissues, cold and flu symptom medication, hand wipes, new lip balm and a cell phone charger in one area will make it easy to park it next to you on the couch or bed while you recover.
Here’s to a healthy winter season. May you find oranges in bulk at your local Costco.
Here are some delicious recipes to help you stay healthy during the cooler months and tips for staying cozy: