We’ve all got wellness on our minds, so in today’s post, I thought I’d share some of my best tips for staying well. You may remember that I have an auto-immune disease, so let me just start by saying that staying healthy is like a part-time job for me! I haven’t been sick with even a cold in about two years, so it seems like what I’m doing is working! ???????? Most of the time, I wouldn’t dream of boring y’all to tears with my
germophobe wellness tips, but we’re all trying hard to stay healthy right now, so I thought it might be a good time to spill some of my secrets! ????????
Staying Healthy & Strong: The Basics
We’re all pretty aware of the basics when it comes to wellness, but let’s reiterate!
1. Hand-Washing & Hand-Sanitizing
According to the CDD, the mechanical, rigorous nature of hand-washing will greatly reduce, if not eliminate, COVID-19 as well as other viruses. When you wash, it’s important to wash for at least 20 seconds, and be sure to wash the backs of your hands, your wrists, and even under your fingernails! I bought a four-pack of these happy little nail brushes and put one by every sink! If hand-washing is drying out your hands, consider doing what I just did and switching to a soap made with organic oils. In February’s SO in the KNOW post, I told you that I’d recently discovered Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap. ” I ordered this starter kit with one each of peppermint, lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, and almond. I’m here to tell you that this soap is wonderful! It leaves my hands soft and smooth, and the fragrances are divine! I don’t think I’ll ever go back to another brand!
When it comes to drying your hands after hand-washing, you might want to consider using paper towels right now, rather than your normal hand towels, which can harbor bacteria (more on this below). If you’re washing hands in a public restroom, always opt to dry off using a paper towel rather than the air dryer because the friction of rubbing with a paper towel removes germs. Also, if you’re in a public restroom, know that research shows that the first bathroom stall is the least visited, so be sure to choose that one. Once inside, know that the floor is the germiest spot, so avoid putting your handbag down on it.
We all know to wash our hands after using the restroom and before eating (also after if you’re eating tacos ???? or lettuce-wrapped burgers at In-N-Out, just sayin’ ????), but also remember to wash them after going through your mail, opening those Amazon packages ????, etc. Also, if you spend a lot of time with your grandkids, you can show them this fun VIDEO and teach them the accompanying song to demonstrate what hand washing should look like.
Hand sanitizer is great in a pinch but is not as effective as hand-washing. That said, sometimes it’s all you’ve got! It’s almost impossible to find hand sanitizer right now, but you can make your own using this recipe.
- 2/3 cup Isopropyl Alcohol (at least 91% strength)
- 1/3 cup Aloe Vera Gel
- 5 drops antibacterial Tea Tree Essential Oil
- 5 drops Lavender Essential Oil
- Optional: 5 drops Vitamin E Oil (for softening)
Whisk ingredients together and put into a glass spray bottle. When you use it, rub your hands together until it dries on your hands. l.
Lack of sleep can affect your immune system. Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. This is because your immune system releases proteins called cytokines during sleep. Cytokines fight infection, inflammation, and even help with stress. Sleep deprivation decreases the production of these protective proteins. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours a night.
Do you struggle with sleep? It’s not uncommon at our age! I recently wrote a post called Six Surprising Reasons You’re Not Sleeping Well & What to Do About It. If this is an area of challenge for you, I think you’ll find it helpful! You can read it HERE.
Even moderate-intensity exercise can help boost your immune system. If you’re into medical journals (I kinda am! #nerdybuttrue ????), you can check out this article from the Journal of Health & Sports Science to learn more.
If you don’t want to go to the germy gym right now, that’s understandable! Consider doing what I do and using the free workout videos at FitnessBlender.com. You can filter by difficulty level, low or high impact, strength training and/or cardio, and lots more.
Staying Healthy & Strong: BEYOND the Basics
1. Oral Health
In late 2016, nurses at the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center Community Living Centers began ensuring patients brushed their teeth twice a day. The result? The number of non-ventilator, hospital-acquired pneumonia (the number one hospital-acquired infection in America) decreased by 70%.???? Yep, it’s true! (You can read more HERE.) Regular brushing and flossing prevent the buildup of plaque (the sticky substance that’s constantly forming on your teeth). When you skip brushing or flossing, you allow plaque to build up in your mouth, where harmful bacteria, including any that you’ve inhaled, grow, and multiply.
What’s the take-away? When you’re in the hospital due to illness or surgery, or when you’re trying especially hard to stay healthy & strong, you should brush your teeth more frequently —just as you should wash your hands more. By brushing your teeth and flossing three or four times a day, you prevent the proliferation of the bacteria you’re likely breathing in regularly. (To double-check that you’re using proper brushing technique, check out THIS brief article.)
According to a Journal of Aging Research study, seeing a dentist two or more times a year may lower mortality risk (from all causes) by 30-50 percent. So if you haven’t seen your dentist in the past six months, now would be an excellent time to schedule a checkup. (BTW, according to that same study, non-flossers had a 30 percent higher death risk than daily flossers.) ????
Want more info? Check out my recent post: Oral Health Over 50 | The Link Between Mouth Health & Good Health. I interviewed my dentist and friend, Dr. Brian Wong, of Stonebriar Dental, and asked him about the risk factors of poor oral health, the advantages of good oral hygiene. Finally, I asked him to share his product recommendations for everything from toothpaste and dental floss, to whitening strips. You can read the post HERE.
Finally, consider sanitizing your toothbrush and/or nightguards. I own this inexpensive portable toothbrush sanitizer, and Bob and I are in the habit of sanitizing our toothbrushes every Saturday morning. (I know! #nerdalert ????) Also, at the risk of over-sharing, I’ll tell you that we both wear nightguards. (Your girl, Suzy, is a teeth grinder/clencher! #nostresshere ????) We sanitize them once a week with safe, chlorine-free, non-effervescent cleaner (those bubbling ones can damage your appliance).
If you haven’t done it in a while, now might be a good time to throw those reusable shopping bags into the washing machine on hot. (Thanks to a mishap that I documented on Monday’s Instagram post, I just did this!) Also, be sure you’re using the anti-bacterial wipes your grocery store provides to wipe down your shopping cart handle. (According to a recent study, fifty percent of them tested positive for E. coli bacteria. ????)
If you’re out and about, be conscientious about using hand sanitizer or washing your hands when you touch surfaces that everybody touches, like door handles, the gas pump, or the ground floor elevator button.
Also, consider taking your own pen and stylus to use in germ “danger” zones. When you’re signing credit card receipts or signing in at the doctor’s office, you’ll want to pull out your own pen to use. More and more often, though, we’re using those electronic styluses to sign on payment machines. I bought this 12-pack of combo pen/styluses and shared them with family members, stashed one in every purse, etc.
Beyond the basic cleaning that you’re undoubtedly already doing, be sure you’re hanging your towels out to dry between uses and washing them after three uses. Dirty towels can spread viruses, fungi, and bacteria. The bacteria that causes staph infections (MRSA) is known to spread on towels and linens.
When it comes to your bedsheets, know that your sheets can accumulate a lot of stuff you can’t see: thousands of dead skin cells, dust mites, and bodily fluids. When you get out of bed and make it right away, you trap moisture. Airing out the bed before making it can help reduce moisture and reduce the number of dust mites as well. A study by Kingston University discovered dust mites couldn’t survive in warm, dry conditions found in unmade beds.
The Cleaning Institute (Yes, there really is one of those! ????) recommends washing your sheets every other week, or more if you:
- have allergies or asthma
- you have an infection or lesion on your skin
- sweat excessively (#thanksmenopause)
- sleep with a pet ????????
- eat in bed
- go to bed without showering
- sleep naked ????
If you’re opting to press forward with airline ✈ travel plans right now, or you have to travel for work, know that there are things you can do to stay safe. I use this Fly Caddy every time we travel! It fits over the back of the tray table in front of me. It holds my sanitizing water bottle, my book, snacks, etc. Most importantly, it keeps me from having contact with the germy tray table in front of me, and it goes right in the washing machine when I get home!
Bob has used PlaneAire Travel Spray for years. He uses it to sanitize the area around his seat when he travels, and he uses it in his hotel room before he even unpacks! It’s 100% natural, and it’s made from six Certified Organic essential oils with antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties, purified water, and organic fruit acids.
5. Frequently Overlooked Areas
While you’re cleaning, be sure to use anti-bacterial wipes if you have them, or even DIY hand sanitizer on a paper towel to clean:
- your phone
- the car door handles, steering wheel and gear shift, radio and temperature controls
- your computer keyboard
Want more info? Check out my post, Jesus & Germs are Everywhere | How to Stay Well When Nobody Else Is.
This dress has nothing to do with wellness! ???? I was initially going to do a post with ideas for dresses to wear to spring and summer weddings and/or Easter, but I felt like this post was more important and timely right now! (BTW, let me know in the comments if you still want that dress post!) This dress was a splurge (it’s currently on sale), but it makes me feel like a princess! It’s tweed and has the cutest fringe trim at the hem, sleeves, and even the seams! It’s really special! It fits TTS. If you put in your measurements, the brand does an accurate job of suggesting your “true fit size.”
BTW, my favorite thing about the photos in this post is that you can see Bob’s reflection in the windows behind me! ???? He’s such the #instahubs!
Stay well out there, sweet friends!
P.S. You might want to Pin this post for future reference!