As nights get colder and mornings chilly, we instinctively look for that snuggly top, an extra blanket and begin to crave hearty soups. There are really good reasons that we look to hibernate a little during colder months; and the current Stay At Home in New Zealand is extra incentive to take care of our immune systems and indulge our winter tendencies.
We share a few ideas - Kawakawa tops our list of course! - and talked to Suna Pilates + Wellbeing about natural ways to boost immunity.
Kawakawa Tea thank you!
We love our Kawakawa and if you're lucky enough to have one growing at your place, make this quick immunity boosting tea.
Pick a 2-3 leaves - the holey ones are best as they're thought to contain more healing actives - and drop into a cup of boiled water. We love ours with a slice of ginger, a little honey and a squeeze of lemon. Also best infused with Karakia (blessing).
Keep in mind if you're hapu (pregnant) avoid having Kawakawa internally.
Embrace your inner bear!
Staying warm is a great way to lessen the energy your body uses as temperatures drop, leaving more reserves for our immune system and fighting off seasonal bugs (and the current nastier-than-normal virus, of course!).
Root vegetables like carrots, kumara, potatoes and beets in nourishing broths, stews and casseroles are full of immune boosting nutrients like vitamin c, while the accompanying antioxidant rich herbs, and onions and garlic are brilliant for antiviral properties and health support.
Mother nature serves up what we need right on cue as feijoas ripen for a dose of natural vitamin C right from the garden, with lemons and oranges ready mid-winter.
Avoid processed foods and go back to basics with whole-food meals. Simple and in-season is the key!
We're all aware how important it is to wash your hands properly, especially before eating and when coming home... use a natural spray from Santosa or Figgy & Co to clean bench tops and door handles, and any high-touch areas. Clean mobile phones and TV remotes, wipe down keyboards and tablet screens, sanitise handbags and wallets.
Pre-winter is a great time to mould-check your home - in particular look for black moulds or damp carpet that can trigger allergies, ezcema and asthma. Cleaning off the mould is important, and thinking about ways to keep that area dry.
We are big believers in 'good dirt' though! Don't worry if your toddler gets covered in mud or eats the odd leaf, it's all part of building up a healthy tolerance!
Fresh air and sunshine is good for the soul
Open windows and doors to let fresh air cleanse your home, and when the sun shines, make a point of getting outside and enjoying yourselves. Vitamin D in sunshine is great for keeping spirits up in shorter daylight hours and helps boost your immune system.
Move that body
Exercise is really good for boosting immune function and keeping our metabolisms working well. Not to mention you'll enjoy that endorphin rush and feel fantastic about achieving your fitness goals.
This isn't as challenging as you think during 'lockdown' - we can walk with the people in our 'bubble' near our homes, TVNZ has Les Mills classes on Demand and Suna have an Pilates On Demand plan which gives you three new workouts every week to do at a time that suits you!
Stay hydrated by drinking good quality water, not just coffee and tea or alcohol. A well hydrated body can use the natural detox processes to flush out and fight viruses.
Who are we kidding - you should enjoy a good red with that winter casserole if it takes your fancy, because you need to...
Take care of your emotional and mental state
Our bodies are vulnerable when we are in a state of fight or flight. When we are anxious or stressed our bodies shut down systems it believes are non-critical - like the immune system - and runs in an 'escape the tiger' state where adrenaline, heart rate and stress levels are high. Staying in this state is damaging for our bodies as well as being an awful way to feel.... especially as in modern life there very rarely is a 'tiger' and rather than a life threatening danger we are often stressed over work, rush hour traffic or the expectations we place on ourselves.
When we are calm and feeling balanced, our parasympathetic nervous system functions best. This is called the rest and digest system, as it conserves energy, slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and boosts immune system function.
Winter (especially this winter) is the perfect time to slow down. Enjoy small indulgences. Make time for leisurely conversations with people you love. Stop breaking your heart over the things you can't change, and worrying about things outside your sphere of control. Bake muffins, hug your child, take a nap. Give yourself some time of grace.
We'd love to hear some of the ways you have found to take care of yourself and whanau during New Zealand's month at home - feel free to pop a comment below!