By Danielle, Contributing writer
With the fall breezes finally blowing, and winter just around the corner, we are all stocking up on pumpkins, cough syrups, and even holiday decorations and shopping lists.
But, is your home ready for the colder months?
I am not talking about the oodles of toys you need to keep your children entertained during a blizzard, nor gallons of bone broth, but preparations you can take to make your home a bit more healthy.
Most don’t think that there are actual steps you can take to keep your home healthy outside of using disinfectant, like bleach or your handy essential oil spray, to boost the health in your home, but there are!
Let’s first look at some of the reasons we get sick more often during the winter.
Why do we get sick in the fall and winter?
– Less vitamin D exposure. Vitamin D, the best source being the good old sun, is increasingly shown to be one of the best supporters of overall immune health. With virtually no sun exposure in the winter months, our system is sorely lacking.
– Limited exercise. Let’s face it. Even if you get to the gym often, you are not exercising, touching the dirt, or doing anything that sounds like that when it’s cold. I don’t blame you for opting for some cocoa and a warm blanket. But, this also means our muscles, ligaments, blood, and endocrine organs and fluids are also taking a break. More movement in the warmer months means more movement of our precious lymph fluid, which cycles and cleans toxins out of our system. In the winter? Not so much (turns on electric fireplace).
– We eat fewer fresh fruits and vegetables. With no farmer’s markets, our gardens frozen over, and produce prices up in the winter, we are simply consuming less vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients from raw fruits and vegetables, which normally keep our immune system in top shape.
- – Toxic air. Most of us, especially those in the north, get very little fresh air during the colder months. Our windows are always closed, and our heaters are cycling dusty air through our air vents (yuck!).
These few reasons, along with a host more, explain why we simply are more open to illness in the colder months. Now, there are tinctures and tonics, remedies and juices which can get and keep you healthy in the winter, and by all means get those brewing. Luckily, there are also steps you can take to make your home and its lifestyle ready to beat the winter bugs, as well.
7 Steps to Prep for a Healthy Home in Colder Months
- Open the windows! OK, no, not all the time. But find a day per month at least, once a week at best, and open up your windows. This allows all the nasties out, and some fresh air in. I check the weather and find the warmest and dryest day of the week, and open those babies up for 30 minutes in the afternoon. Yes, it’s chilly. Yes, I wear two pairs of sweatpants. But, we then huddle by a fire, turn the heat back on, have some cocoa and breathe in the fresh air.
- Switch out the light bulbs. Those fancy, twisty CFL light bulbs may promise energy savings, but they also promise ill health. Go old school and use incandescent bulbs (230 Hz) or LED (350 Hz), not the new Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) bulbs (236,740 Hz). CFLs emit electromagnetic radiation which can cause headaches, fatigue, skin problems and even cancer. These bulbs contain enough mercury to 6,000 gallons of water when broken, so dispose of properly.
- Turn down the heat! Please keep reading! I know you don’t like the idea of this, but hear me through. Aside from your bill, too much heat can actually breed those germs you are trying to kill. It takes a lot of energy for your body to acclimate to drastic temperature changes, energy it could be using to digest your latest meal or fight off a viral bug. Have you ever noticed, even in the summer, when going outside after being in the home how different the temperature is? It’s okay to be chilly in the winter – winter. is. chilly. Your body will acclimate (and so will your wallet) to cooler temps, and you will not suffer such a bone freezing when you walk outside. Fifty-five to sixty degrees is the lowest you want to go, so that your pipes will not freeze. Consider turning down the heat one degree or two until you find the temperature that keeps you warm, but not freezing. We keep our home at fifty-five degrees during the day when we are not home, and no warmer than sixty-two when we are home. Of course, we wear warm layers, but we do not suffer the temperature shock that others do.
- Use natural disinfectant only when necessary. We are over-sanitizing everything today. Studies are showing that more disinfectant we use, the more ill we become. Opt for natural cleaners, or make your own natural disinfecting spray.
Quick Recipe: 4 cups of white vinegar and 2 dried orange peels and 2 cinnamon sticks or your favorite essential oils. If using the oranges and cinnamon, place in vinegar for up to two weeks, then remove. If using the oil, add 4-5 drops of your favorite essential oil (Thieves, lavender, tea tree) to vinegar.
- Turn off the cell phones and WiFi periodically. Cell phones and WiFi emit EMF’s, which can cause headaches, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, and even cancer. Turn your cell phone off or in airplane mode when not needed. Consider also getting an EMF blocker on all your technological devices. Also consider putting your internet on cables, or turning off when not in use. I keep mine on a power strip, and turn it off every night.
- Replace chemical air fresheners and candles. Air fresheners and candles contain harsh toxins shown to cause allergies and asthma. This is not what you want to be using during months when you are shut in! Opt for soy or beeswax candles, and make your own essential oil sprays (with water), or diffuse them. Another timeless way to bring good smells to your home is warming orange peels, cinnamon sticks, or pine needles in a saucepan on your stove.
- Bring in the dirty! I did something a little crazy last year, I must admit. I was desperate to keep my little one playing in the microbial-rich dirt last fall, so I brought in an old sand table with dirt from our garden. I can’t tell you how many hours that entertained my little one in the basement! Throw a few tractors and trucks in, and you have days of fun, all while keeping those warm, healthy bugs in your life. Get creative and find ways to still enjoy the outdoors in the colder months.
So, there you have it. While we enjoy all the wonders of fall, we can still look ahead to the colder months knowing we have the resources to keep our little ones – and homes – healthy!
How do you prep to keep your home healthy in the colder months? Share with us!
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