4 Simple, Surprising Steps to Stay Healthy this Winter

I transported myself and 5 very sick children to our doctor’s office ONCE and vowed I would never do it again. I haven’t! Granted, I’ve carted 2 or 3 kids sick kids to the doctor’s more than once . . .
Life is challenging enough without throwing in the sniffles, a cough, unplanned doctor visits or a lovely round of the stomach flu. Nothing disrupts REST as an attack of a winter illness. For what it’s worth, here’s my “attack plan” for keeping our family of 7 healthy each year. Each of these 4 simple items are backed by research and years of personal experience.


  • “Wash your hands” is my war cry. It is the first thing my kids hear when they walk in the door, followed by “drink some water.” Eventually we get to hugs and “how was your day?” When it comes to washing hands, most of us are brief and lazy. Take the time to lather up and scrub! (Folks tell us to wash for the length of time it takes to sing happy birthday.) Truth be told, we also pass around the antibacterial gel as we pile back into the van after being in a public place. Can you tell I hate getting sick?
    • We all take 1,000 to 2,000 units of vitamin D every day, all year, with a meal that includes fat. It’s a fat soluble vitamin and is worthless if there is not fat in your stomach when you take it. Learn more about the benefits of vitamin D.
    Sleep. Adults need 7-9 hours of restorative sleep to keep our immune systems in its prime. Kids need 9-10, and that includes teens. Try to keep your crew well rested.
    Humidified air. We run a humidifier each winter. Moist nasal passages are able to resist an attack of those nasty airborne viruses more successfully when moist and not dried out.

First Sign of Illness
I do all of the things below and manage to dodge most bullets. Some of these things are not real pleasant and my crew resist and decline . . . but some have come on to “my side” and are also staying healthier!

  • Gargle with warm salt water 2-3 times a day.
  • Suck on zinc lozenges at the first sign of a sore throat. If taken in the first 24 hours, for a day or two, it can reduce the length of your cold. (They can be rough on the tummy, so I make sure I have some food in me.) Zinc leaves an unpleasant metallic taste in my mouth for hours. I hate it, but I hate it less than I hate getting sick.
    • We up our vitamin D to 10,000 to 25,000 units a day if I think I am getting sick or I am sick. Kids, too. We also try to get as much sleep as possible.
    • Vicks Vapor rub. This is an old/new find for me. I tend to get sinus infections after a lingering cold. I take 12-hour pseudoephedrine hydrochloride (generic Sudafed) during the day, but the stuff keeps me up at night. (Too much also constipates me, so I counteract that with lots of water and 2,000 mg of Vitamin C.) At night, I place Vicks in a thick layer under my nose. This allows my nose to clear up enough to get a better night’s sleep. My mom used to rub the stuff on my chest when I was a little girl and cover it with a thin hanky at night. Was that something your mom ever did?

This is my game plan to combat winter viruses. What’s yours?

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1 thought on “4 Simple, Surprising Steps to Stay Healthy this Winter”

  1. The only other things I can add are…1) go outside at least once each day. 2) get some sunshine….outside or through a window. And 3) laugh. God bless you.


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