13 Natural Ways Our Family Stays Healthy in Winter

13 Natural Ways Our Family Stays Healthy in Winter // jessconnell.com

Here are 13 natural ways to stay healthy in wintertime. :) These are simple, easy, FREE ways you can boost your family’s health.

  1. Teach our kids (from very young) to cough on the inside of their elbows. Even 2 year olds can learn to do this, rather than into hands or just out into the ether. This lessens the spread of germs because there’s less germs on hands (and thus, less germs on household items and surfaces).
  2. Wear socks or slippers in the winter when it’s cold out. This is something we picked up while living overseas, and –honestly– I though it was baloney at first. But we tried it for a year or two and became convinced. The whole body stays warmer, which uses less bodily energy just to maintain warmth. Especially when people start getting sick, sniffling, coughing, I’m fierce about seeing to it that they wear either socks or slippers, 24/7.
  3. Drink warm beverages (and avoid ice) in the winter. Same thing as above. I didn’t think it mattered when the Chinese and Thai people tried to win me over, but the Turks were the ones who ultimately convinced me. Warm beverages soften and open up the esophagus and warm the belly as well. It’s comforting and (I think) promotes health.
  4. Get outside, often. Too much stale, indoor air, is good for no one. This is something we found out once we moved BACK to America. In most indoor spaces here, air is recirculated, and that’s something most cultures since the beginning of time have recognized is NOT a good thing, especially in seasons of sickness. We open up windows when we can to let in fresh air, but we also head outside to renew the air we’re breathing and get in a little exercise as well.
  5. Soup. Homemade is best. But canned chicken noodle works, too.
  6. Get plenty of sleep. It’s tempting to stay up late in the cozy living room, fireplace blazing, with warm beverages in hand. Snuggling down and watching movies seems infinitely cozier in the winter, yes? And we do that, some. But we also (for the most part) maintain good bedtimes for everyone (8pm for little guys, by 9 for everyone else… and for us– whenever we feel like it, but we strive for earlier when possible.) Most of us sleep in until around 8 most mornings. When the light allows for longer sleeping hours, we try to take advantage of it, and feel like this is one way our bodies try to tank up in order to be able to better fight illness.
  7. Epsom salt baths. (I do love adding a couple drops of lavender to my bath salts, and this is the best price I’ve found on it.) It supposedly pulls out toxins and gives a dose of magnesium. These are especially good for the first day of a cold. I like the way it warms up my starting-to-feel-sick body, and I always feel better afterward.
  8. Natural forms of vitamin C, in bulk. Satsuma oranges (“Cuties”) are my kids’ favorite way to tank up on vitamin C. They eat tons and tons and tons of them. (We buy them at our discount grocery store, cause who can afford tons of them at typical store-bought prices?) In the winter, (well who am I kidding? this is my general approach) they can eat as many bright, vitamin-C-rich oranges as they like.
  9. Eat a balanced diet, in general. We are not perfect eaters by ANY stretch. But we eat homemade food more often than not. Overall, we prefer simple foods (where we know what’s in them), to meals made of boxes and mixes and unpronounceable ingredients. This probably seems overly simplistic, but our bodies can only fight sickness with what we give them… so giving our bodies plenty of basic, healthful, pronounceable foods (and, more often than not, choosing things other than chips/cookies/processed foods) is part of our approach to wellness.
  10. Eat a BRAT diet when there’s signs of a stomach virus. (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) When there’s any hint of throwing up or diarrhea, I immediately switch that person over to a simpler, plainer diet for at least a day or two. Longer if it was a long virus.
  11. Cold moist air for the croup. If anyone gets a croupy cough (not normal ones, but the deep-throated one that comes with the croup), we bundle their body up warm and go sit outside in the cold night air for 5-10 minutes. It’s counterintuitive, but for croupy coughs, cold moist air fights it better than virtually anything else.
  12. When compromised, we stay home. When anyone seems sick or like they might be coming down with something, we stay home rather than risking getting exposed to more illness or passing around whatever we have. I feel like I’ve finally gotten OK with this. Early on in my mothering, it was tempting to feel frustrated that I might miss anywhere from a couple to a half dozen Sundays over the course of the winter months. Now, I see it as a simple fact of being mom. Part of my job is to keep everyone as healthy and well-rested as I’m able. As wife and mom, being an observant nurturer of the bodies of my family members is one way I can ultimately care for their whole persons.
  13. Sick people take naps. Even older kids. And this is true once there’s a *sign* of sickness. It seems that it’s very common to drop naps at quite young ages, but our kids take daily naps until they’re at least 4 years old (that’s with NO sickness). But once there’s a sign of the possible onset of sickness, even older children take naps.

 

IN THE COMMENTS: What are your best simple, free, & natural tips for boosting health in the wintertime?

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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10 Responses

  1. Emily says:

    Good ideas! Something we do is whenever we get home (from anywhere), everyone washes hands with soap. We also make it a regular habit anyway like if we are out, or before we eat… but now it’s like second nature to walk in and immediately go to the kitchen sink. I’ve done it for so long it’s like autopilot and doesn’t seem excessive or time consuming. My husband works an office job with smaller quarters so (after some reminding) first thing he does is wash hands before he plays with the kids. I also carry alcohol-based hand wipes for the kiddos and me when we are out and can’t wash hands.

  2. Rachel says:

    We do cod liver oil (vitamins A & D for strong mucus membranes) each day all winter, outside time each day, avoid any and all sugar when we can, get to bed on time and eat lots of bell peppers (also high in vitamin C), take garlic whenever run down or exposed to bugs, and lots of vegetables in our soup each day. If exposed to stomach bugs we take grape juice and activated charcoal.

  3. Janine says:

    Black tea w/cinnamon steeped in is good for “drying up” intestinal issues~and our cold treatment is juice of 1/2 lemon, minced garlic clove, vit c powder or crushed tablet, drop of hot sauce in a cup w/hot ckn broth.

  4. Hannah Evans says:

    I make my own elderberry syrup which we take daily in the winter and several times a day when we’re coming down with something. Also I like to make lemon ginger tea or echinacea tea with honey to soothe a sore throat/ boost the immune system. What discount grocery store is that you mentioned? I would love to find cuties at a bargain because my boys eat them like candy! ☺️

  5. Erin says:

    When a nasty bug hits our family, I switch to using paper towels so that the hand towel isn’t incubating the germs!

  6. Diana says:

    I love this list, especially since so many of them just aren’t part of the normal American repertoire. I had to think about the “wear slippers” and “drink warm drinks in winter,” because that just isn’t the way I think – but I can totally see the logic in it.

    Also, I am learning the art of being content with missing a lot of church due to illness. The larger our family gets, the longer it takes for an illness to make the rounds, and that’s just how it works out. We do our best, but staying home is better than spreading the plague! :)

    (I remember my MIL telling a story of how her church scolded her for staying at home when her baby twins were sick with high fevers. Apparently that wasn’t a good excuse in that time, place, and denomination!! I’m thankful it’s not like that where I am!)

    Thanks for sharing!

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