Winter is often the most sickly time of the year with folks suffering from colds, coughs, sniffles, achy joints and cold sores. There are many reasons blamed: confinement with others, cold weather, depression, stress, weak immune system or lack of exercise. Depending on whom you ask, all of them can be a part of the problem.
Here are some guidelines for winter wellness.
- Eat healthy and don’t over indulge. A healthy diet will keep your gut microbiome in order, preventing harmful bacteria from taking over. Consuming lactic acid consuming bacteria naturally found in raw food like fruits and vegetables support gut and respiratory health. Consumption of traditional comfort foods high in glucose causes oxidative stress in the blood and compromises your immune defenses. Eat plenty of leafy greens, beans and citrus.  In addition, including your own sprouts of alfalfa, broccoli, lentil and red clover in your daily diet are extremely beneficial. Don’t forget garlic, “nature’s penicillin,” which has been used to fight infections for thousands of years. 
- Get more sunshine. It’s easy to stay inside during winter. Get outside often, dressing appropriately, it will make you feel better, stimulate your metabolism (your body burns more calories keeping warm), and enhance your absorption of vitamin D. Remember to be careful about excessive exercise. It can be bad for your heart. Use a small shovel, and move small amounts of snow at a time. Take any chest pain seriously and seek medical help immediately. 
- Manage your stress level. Winter activities and obligations can get overwhelming. Spend sometime alone in meditation. It will help you refocus and be more mindful of your blessings. 
- Keep up your fluid intake. Avoid dryness both internally and externally. Apply extra lotion, moisturizer, turn on that humidifier you cleaned when prepping your home for winter, and drink lots of water. Include herbs in your water like lemon and mint, use a straw and limit your alcoholic drink consumption. 
- Practice standard hygiene techniques. Cover your cough with your arm, wash your hands, gargle with salt water, and discard used tissues. Limit the length of time you spend closed up with other people. Steer clear of those you hear coughing and hacking.
- Consider herbal supplements to stimulate your immune system. Herbs like elderberry extract can be a preventative tonic,  oil from peppermint will open sinuses and help some headaches,  sage mixed with honey helps sore throats. 
- Find ways to serve others. When you change the vibrational rate in your body, by focusing on positive gratitude, it creates a dynamic energy and powerful healer. 
- Get plenty of sleep. Nothing restores the body more than getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Immune cells are most active during the sleep cycle.  Good sleep banishes depression, curbs junk food cravings, eliminates extra amounts of cortisol, the stress hormone, and burns calories. 
- Does a flu shot work for you? Flu symptoms include fever, chills, and body aches. You can catch it by droplet transmissions from up to 6 feet away. If you get sick, stay home don’t spread it around.
Billie Nicholson, Editor