In the 1950s, shows like Leave it to Beaver always seemed to include a scene where the mom yells for everyone to wash their hands before coming to the dinner table. When you were little, maybe your mom said the same thing. Turns out, June Cleaver knew what she was talking about!
In Colorado, there has been an outbreak of a strange and potent upper respiratory infection. The ebola outbreak is the largest in history, with the CDC estimating that it could affect as many as 1.8 million people before it is over. Flu strains seem to be gaining strength and morphing around our attempts to vaccinate against them.
The simplest thing you can do to protect yourself from most colds and viruses, and any other germ you might pick up in your day: listening to your mother and washing your hands.
Believe it or not, even the CDC’s first instruction for controlling the spread of ebola is frequent hand washing.
With seasons changing and the air outside getting colder, I thought it would be a good time to talk about how to keep yourself from getting sick this winter.
Instead we get concerned about downing decongestants and cough syrup to treat the symptoms. Washing your hands sounds too simple, right? Sure, there are supplements and essential oils you can take to boost your immune system, but remembering to wash your hands as often as possible is truly your best defense.
I’m not trying to be dramatic when I say that germs live EVERYWHERE – door knobs, grocery carts, our own refrigerators, keyboards and cell phones. We also touch our faces all day long and it is really just a matter of time, given those circumstances, before our immune systems can’t fight the germs on their own anymore. And if you have kids, you know they are touching gross stuff all day long and then putting their fingers right in their mouth. They are even sticking their fingers in YOUR mouth! But we can help in the fight.
Here are my suggestions:
30 Second Rule
Honesty check: After you’ve used a bathroom (particularly a public one), do you do a quick run under the tap to wet your hands and dry your hands? If that describes your hand-washing regime, you are wasting your time and asking for trouble. To really wash the germs off your hands, you need to use soap, warm water and at least thirty seconds of scrubbing – around your nails, between your fingers, all the way to your wrists. You don’t need antibacterial soaps, or harsh, alcohol-based wipes and gels. Good ole fashioned hand washing is your first and best line of defense. Not sure how long thirty seconds is or need to teach your kids the rule? Here’s what I do with Madeline – We sing two rounds of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” every time we wash our hands. It takes about thirty seconds to sing that poem twice and it makes the activity even more fun. Be warned, it can be a hard habit to break, I found myself singing “Twinkle Twinkle” in the restroom of Denver International Airport not too long ago!
Keep Your Home Clean
Your next line of defense should be to keep your home as clean as possible. Door knobs, door handles, your kids’ toys, the TV remote, light switches – things you and your kids touch every day, all day long. I’m not a fan of antibacterial sprays, bleaches, and other toxic chemicals that you’ll find in most household cleaners, but you don’t need to go nuclear to keep the germs at bay. There are essential oil combinations, DIY recipes, and plenty of products on the market that will do the trick naturally. When in doubt, look for DIY solutions with lemon and vinegar. And no, your house will not have a funky vinegar smell!
No Shoes In The House
Lots of my friends have a no-shoes in the house policy, especially during the winter. It’s easy enough to keep a rug or shoe cubbies in or near your coat closet at the front door. It will help keep dirt and germs that shoes pick up and carry around at your front door instead of all over your house. Not only will you keep the germs out, your floors will stay cleaner longer! Yes, I will do ANYTHING to vacuum less!
What do you do to keep your hands and house clean during the winter? Share your tips below.
Hayley Hobson is an author, speaker, business coach, yogi, Pilates instructor, and holistic nutritional expert based in Boulder, CO. Her unique and intelligent style promotes strengthening while softening—empowering her clients to heal not only their physical bodies but their hearts and minds as well. To learn more about her nutritional courses, events, and custom programs, visit hayleyhobson.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.