As the season changes we move in to cold and flu season, people are coming in with the sniffles, sore throats, achy bodies, clogged sinuses and their related head aches.

There are a number of simple things you can incorporate in your lives that can have a positive impact on your health and the quality of your life.

1. Wash your hands often

It’s not all bad that we are constantly coming in contact with germs and bacteria, in fact it’s largely how we strengthen our immune systems. Using antibacterial soaps and cleanser kills the most of the bacteria that isn’t particularly harmful often leading to survival of the fittest ones that are no longer held in check by the less resistant ones. This is in part how superbugs come about. You are far better off using regular soap and warm water. Easier on the skin and wont leave only the toughies in the school yard.

2. Train Your Kids

If you have kids in school, have them get in the habit of washing their hands often; before their lunch and especially before leaving school and bringing it all home with them. Anyone who has kids knows they bring a whole host of stuff from school. Colds, flues, LICE – over and over again, thank God they are relatively easy to shampoo and comb out. Teach them while they are young, give them routine and they and you will benefit all your life.

3. Stop Touching Your Face!

People spread more germs by touching their nose, eyes and mouth with their hands than any other contact. Unfortunately is deeply unconscious. Do your best, because when you touch that door know afterwards you are spreading your own germs and picking up that other persons stuff too. Refer back to point no. 1.

4. Get a Good Nights Sleep

Sleep is often underrated, this coming from someone who generally for the past 25 + years gets somewhere between 4-6 hours of sleep a night. Mostly due to habits. This really wasn’t much of a problem until I had kids, then everything changed as you don’t always get to sleep when you want to and it becomes quite broken. I would often find that just about the time I was ready to go to sleep one of the babies would wake up crying and since you are the parent who is up, it’s your turn. Now I’m really going to feel awful in the morning.

I help people deal with a lot of sleep issues, this is not the article that I am going to offer a lot of depth on what you can do to change that. I will go into much more detail in a later post. So please do share your comments. There are two primary tools I use to help people get more out of the sleep they get and to get back to sleep when their mind turns on and wakes them up. Swami Paramahamsa Nithyananda taught me a very powerful 15 minute meditation technique to supercharge what ever amount of sleep you do get. When I do this before I get into bed, I always wake up more refreshed even with as little as 3-4 hours of sleep. Thank you Swami!

Emotions of the day, week, month and years play a huge roll in how well you sleep. and clearly affect your immune system. More stress means more adrenalin and cortisol surging through your body. Extra tired? notice your natural buffer for irritations goes way down? So does your immune system. Ask yourself how often your depth of sleep is affected by the amount of stuff rolling around in your brain at night. This can certainly contribute to some whacked out dreams too. The answer I have found to be invaluable at changing the quality of your sleep is a modified use of Emotional Freedom Technique. (EFT) The technique is easy to learn, you can even follow along to a video and get instant benefits from it. Search YouTube to find 100’s of videos. Sorry I haven’t gotten around to making mine yet, a little prodding wont hurt though. Before going off to find the video simply make a list of the top 10 things that are bothering you or the thoughts that come back to keep you awake at night. Rate them on a scale of 1-10 in intensity. Go tap on the video or download my Pdf of the technique. Do several rounds on each issue or better yet keep tapping until they have a big fat zero for intensity. It has been my experience with over 1000 clients, If you can bring the intensity down by 1 you can bring it to a zero. Getting it to zero is the part that comes with much practice, not to say you wont have your one cycle miracles. Just give it a try!

5. Acknowledge and Deal with Your Stress – ahh the not really so silent killer. I can’t tell you how many people tell me that they are not stressed in a high pitched twitchy voice as they suffer from head aches from clenching their jaws and wearing down their teeth at night when they sleep. Denial is not just a river in Egypt! Have you noticed that your shoulders like to climb up to your ears when you are not paying attention? Ask me how to fix this! I’ll share.

Stress takes a serious toll on our immune system. When you are stressed you body produces cortisol, excessive adrenelin and DHEA-S.

6. Vitamin D. If you are one of the many people who live north of the 49th parallel then you are almost certainly suffering from Vitamin D deficiency. We simply don’t get enough sunshine to produce this ourselves. They are only just discovering the many uses the body has for this vitamin our bodies produce by being in the sun. To keep our bone density at a healthy level we need to have sufficient levels of calcium and magnesium and vitamin D. The most current recommendations are that we need to get 1000 units/day. Some people take as much as 4000IU. Be careful with Vit. D as you can get too much of this and it can some serious side effects. One of my clients spent 7 miserable months thinking she was premenopausal which turned out to be toxic levels of Vit. D.

7. Exercise – Nothing strengthens the immune system more then having a health, strong body which means that you need the right mix of cardio and strengthening (weight bearing exercises). Many of my clients like to inform me that even though they do not exercise regularly, they work really hard all day 5 days a week, they have “active jobs” This may be so, but this rarely equals a balanced work out session. The greatest influence I see from physical jobs is that since most people repeat the same activities day in and day out. They create imbalances in their posture and their structure suffers as a result. Too many activities with your arms out in front of you and the muscles in the front of your body overwhelm the strength of the smaller back muscles. (more about this in a further article.)

8. Breathe Deeper and More Slowly – Most of us don’t breathe deeply enough or use the most effective parts of our bodies to breath efficiently. How this relates to your immune system is that deep and slow breathing dramatically reduces stress levels, this is not just an automated function of the body, we can take conscious control over our breathing and should regularly. The other issue which will be discussed in further detail below is that the diaphragm is part of our immune system. When you use the diaphragm to breathe in an out if stimulates the movement of lymph though the lymphatic system which is where your killer T cell circulate…

Generally there are three types of breaths: Diaphragmatic, rib and upper chest. Diaphragmatic breathing primarily uses the muscle that was designed to work every few seconds of your life. Without it, life ceases to exist, and you turn a funny shade of blue. To properly breathe with the diaphragm you need to push your stomach out! Kids learn at a particularly early age to hold their stomachs in when they breathe so they don’t get teased for being fat. In particular a huge percentage of women in my clinical practice barely use their diaphragms properly. The lungs have to expand somewhere so this leads to the second kind of breathing pattern. Rib expansion, this takes place in the mid and upper portions of your chest forcing your ribcage to expand like bucket handles. Constant rib breathing tend to lead to shallow breathing, tight rib cage, mid and upper back pain. (You know that pain between your shoulder blades) People who sit for a living tend to have very tight spine and ribcages, thus limiting their breathing capacity. The third and worst kind of breathing pattern is upper chest breathing. In situations where you are exerting yourselves, your shoulder and neck muscles will contract to lift up your clavicles and top of the ribcage to get full use of the last 20% of lung capacity. We were not meant to breathe this way all the time. This is the most common form of dysfunctional breathing. I see and treat this all the time. The downside to this pattern is that you are constantly overworking the small muscles in the front of your neck, the scalenes and your shoulder muscles the upper traps. The tighter and more fatigued these muscles get the more likely you are going to have a forward head posture. Tight scalenes are primarily responsible for: Forward head posture, numbing and tingling in the hands, weakness and tightness in forearms, elbow pain, shoulder blade and lower neck strain, pain and head aches. This is one serious muscle and if the primary reason that it’s too tight is because of your dysfunctional breathing patterns you really need to learn how to breathe properly.

9. Dress warmly, keep your head and neck warm. I used to think this was just a old wives tale, then one of the universities experimented on their student bodies, chilling them on a regular basis and exposing them to viruses. They found that those that were chilled had compromised immune systems and got sick more easily and more severely. Go figure, your mom had it right after all.

10. Drink Jewish Chicken Soup. Seriously there was a study done that showed that soup made from kosher chickens improved their test subjects immune system. There is a very good possibility that soup made with the chickens you find in most supermarkets, even the free range chickens who don’t usually have the strength to move through the tiny doors to get outside to the ‘free range’ in the light* wont contribute to your immune system. Kosher soup chickens are large old birds and are supposed to be raised and slaughter in more humane ways * (Watch the movie Food Inc.)

Even adopting only a few of these good habits may have a significant effect on your immune system. This could mean the difference between being sick 4-5 times a year and being abundantly healthy while everybody else is coughing and sneezing around you. Here’s to your health!