That Time of Year

9466455337_8c3cfda7ae_m“Wellness is a connection of paths: knowledge and action.” ~ Joshua Welch

Though she lives 1,800 miles (2,900 km) to the East, I talk with my Mom every Sunday. At 83, she is blessed with a sound mind and able body. She lives independently with a healthy dose of pride. And soon, in one of our conversations, she’ll ask: Did you get a flu shot? What can I say, she’s a Mom; a wise one.

We in the Northern Hemisphere are heading into that time of year: winter, the solstice, an extended holiday period, the annual cold and flu season… and whatever else typically accompanies days of shorter daylight. In the spirit of awareness and your personal wellness, are you preparing for the coming months?

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Yes, we get colds and we try to avoid the flu. But there are other seasonal risks. It seems unfair, but if you’re prone to summer allergies, chances are you’re susceptible to them in winter too. Why? Because those warm weather irritants are around all year, like pet dander, mold and mildew. When you settle indoors for chillier weather – the windows closed, the heater on – your exposure to the same allergens heightens.

Research also shows that the incidence of heart attacks spike during the holiday period. In combination, overeating, overdoing alcoholic consumption, being too sedentary, and even the stress of the season can trigger heart attacks. Yet how many people plow, unwittingly, into the vacuum that this time of year can be?

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Some people plan for the challenges that accompany this time of year. They consciously prepare. Not that preparation can cover everything that presents, but it can provide some insulation from endless marketing, external stimuli, bacteria, and things that can threaten our wellness. Getting a flu shot is simply one of those preparations.

There are countless other considerations. You likely have practices that work well for you. If you are looking for some simple ideas to help prepare for and get you through the next few months, here are three suggestions:

  1. Slow down. Intentionally. We all have so much to do and so little time in which to do it. And you want me to slow down? πŸ™‚ Who has time for that? Rephrase the question: who doesn’t have time for that? The answer: our bodies. If you squeeze every second out of every day at record speed, your flesh, bones, muscles, and organs will eventually suffer. A serene mind really is nothing without a healthy body to carry it.
  2. Rethink your commitments. Ask: Are you committed to something because of genuine compassion or interest rather than a sense of obligation? Continuing to give your time and energy when your heart isn’t truly engaged often does you and others a disservice. Think fulfilling your own needs while connecting with and helping others.
  3. Highlight health and feeling well. Focus on the way being healthy makes you feel and what it gives you. Feed your body nourishing food so you feel your best, and remove the worries about dis-ease and poor health.

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To our Southern Hemisphere friends, here’s wishing you a refreshing spring and summer.

53 thoughts on “That Time of Year

  1. I think I am beginning to feel the stress of the holidays already! The stores are full of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas stuff and I haven’t even starting my shopping. Thanks for the reminder and tips to slow down and enjoy this life!

    • I remember a friend once commenting on the impending season — “Stop the insanity!” What we do to ourselves in the name of pleasing/gifting others, borders on questionable behavior (in my humble opinion). I hope the post serves to remind (and help) other readers, JoNell. Thanks for chiming in!

  2. Thank you for the good wishes. I survived winter without catching a bug (but with a flu shot)! So now it’s the season for hay fever, pollen allergies, bee stings, fleas, sand flies, mosquitos, food going off, sun stroke, sunburn…

      • Not much I think – it seemed to appear quite early. A sister of mine (despite the flu shot) was down with the flu for a fortnight (i.e. two weeks in American parlance!)

      • There’s no magic pill (or vaccine). It’s a contagion and if you exposed, you’re ripe for infection. Still, there are steps we can take to mitigate exposure. I hope your sister fully recovered. Flu can have some nasty lingering affects.

      • I do like to keep a window cracked- I hate the thought of “stale air” My husband and I are always freezing so those gigantic heating bills are just what they are. Flip side is we never use AC in the summer! πŸ™‚

  3. I just said yesterday that I’m not ready for the holidays! I think we all need to remember that they happen again next year so if this year isn’t perfection, it’s alright. My body gives me warning when I am overdoing it and if I listen to it, the cold generally does not get a foothold! I love that your Mom still looks after you πŸ™‚

    • I long ago gave up aligning the holidays with any version of perfection. They will simply end up being what they are without me or family risking their physical and emotional health. Stress truly debilitates. As with you, many people can sense/feel the early stages of a cold and nip it in its bud, with their own unique remedies. The flu can be another story.

      And yes, I am her favorite. πŸ™‚

  4. Even though I’m technically still in the Northern hemisphere, it doesn’t feel much like winter here. In fact, I’m more likely to get sick in the middle of summer here, what with all the AC in buildings. But my body does slow down during the winter months and I’m fine with that.

    • Listening to our bodies is prudent and more. The winter season is said to be a restorative one, even in your climate, I surmise. In the end, it *is* what we’re individually fine with so kudos to you, Ger.

  5. I believe those suggestions are valid regardless of whether you are about to welcome the winter chill and snow or, like in my part of the world, intense heat, humidity and cyclones! Did your mum make those suggestions?

  6. I really liked your second suggestion Eric, “Rethinking your Commitments.” I stopped doing something recently precisely because of what you shared there and I feel a tremendous sense of freedom now. Such a good post.

    • Thank you, Don. Glad you shared your recent experience, as I am heading into a similar situation. I have (knowingly) spread myself thin and find myself burning the candle at both ends. I know my priorities and why they are so; now I simply need to realign with them. I’m looking forward to being liberated and that “sense of freedom.” πŸ™‚

  7. Can’t remember whether our winter conditions follow your previous one or vice versa, but we didn’t have many frosts this year. Love the spring, renewal, rebirth …

    • Indeed, the season of renewal. Relish it. I have no idea what the meteorologists have forecast for our impending winter as I don’t follow them. I simply deal with what nature chooses to share with us, even if it’s her wrath. πŸ™‚

  8. Eric I am happy to say I am coming into the warmer weather but the hay fever season is not my friend either. The best thing I do for the flu is slow down and sleep more, listen to your body it knows best. Having said that I need to get moving, walking and weights in a nice easy way. I listen to my body and it tells me when to rest. Happy autumn to you.

    • Yours are prudent and proven practices, Kath. To the slowing down and getting needed rest/sleep, I add staying well hydrated. Water, for me, is a great flusher of all sorts of bugs/toxins. Enjoy the easing back into your walking and weights. πŸ™‚ And thanks for the autumn wishes. Returning flipped seasonal greetings.

  9. So much here, Eric! Thank you! I have slowed enough to notice the seasons and allow my body and my pace to work with, rather than against, the energy of each. I love the seasons, especially now. Spring and Fall are wonderful periods of preparation for the energy of Summer and Winter. I have noticed, too, that my nutritional needs change…and that is how I know I am living at the pace and energy of nature – which is our best teacher about life. That all important relationship with our Moms…that’s an entire book, I believe! πŸ˜‰

    • Not surprising to learn how you relate to the seasons, Carrie. πŸ™‚ It’s an interesting perspective to intentionally align our lifestyles with nature. It’s a way of life for many here in the High Desert. Thanks for acknowledging the post and its messages, as well as recognizing the relationships with our Moms. I just finished talking with her 30 minutes ago.

  10. As always Eric, wonderful information. I try to be aware of health and prevention. I don’t know how or why our world has turned in to such a high speed demand. Why must our existence be a race of stress? I say this as I try to get a few minutes to read and write in the car as the husband drives while we head to the fifth engagement of our 2 day weekend…….

    • It doesn’t have to be “a race of stress.” I (the hard way) learned this a decade ago. In the time that has passed, I have worked diligently to create and live a lifestyle that minimizes stress. I cannot afford and do not want it in my life. I say this (too?) often, it’s a choice we make. I do hope you and your husband enjoyed the weekend’s social whirlwind. πŸ™‚

      • Thank you Eric, we did enjoy it. Which was one of the reasons for so many engagements. It was the ‘good’ stress. People we wanted to spend time with, help and enjoy life with. We have learned to say ‘no’ when we need to. And that lesson alone is worth it’s non measurable weight in gold! πŸ˜‰

      • It’s huge. Many have trouble saying no.

        And while efforts are often well-intentioned, it just further depletes people. Glad you chose to enjoy some ‘good’ stress. πŸ™‚

  11. How wonderful that your mother is still with you. Mine moved to a higher plane back in 1995 when she was 83 and I still miss her — always will! I have such mixed thoughts about these flu shots. I have not had one in almost three years since leaving the work force and I can’t say I miss it. Smart or foolhardy? I don’t know yet! A great post reminding us of the upcoming season! Thanks, Eric!

    • I don’t know the efficacy of an annual flu shot, Linda. I do know, however, that I get one every year and I haven’t had a cold or the flu in four winter flu seasons. And we’ve had some virulent strains circulating in the last couple of years. So I’m of little help answering your (rhetorical?) question. Glad, though, that the post served to remind.

  12. Must work on the serene mind! πŸ™‚ We listened to one of your podcasts, “Living your Dreams in Spite of your Circumstances.” Loved the intro. πŸ™‚ Your guest was amazingly resilient. I can’t imagine having to deal with that kind of loss.

    • Cool that you picked the “serene mind” out of this message. It’s not as hard to achieve as some (many?) may think. As with most choices and efforts, it simply takes a personal commitment coupled with patience and persistence. Piece of cake, right Shelley? πŸ™‚ Thanks for listening to one of the shows. Your choice of the word “resiliency” is perfect for Dave and his experience/journey. Continued safe travels!

  13. As always, great post! I have, over the years, totally relaxed about what the holidays mean. It is all about choice. I’ve removed the “obligation part” and it has reflected in our enjoyment of it all. As for flu shots – no matter how much my father tried to convince me to get one, I never did (except the H1N1 scare…) I used to get sick often when I was miserable in my job… funny how that works, eh? I don’t any more! We keep the house cool so no bugs can spread! My son is convinced that his hot peppers keep him healthy! Feels a cold coming on, munches on some ridiculously super hot pepper… he can keep his remedy, thank you very much!

    • Amazing isn’t it, Dale, what can happen when we bypass “obligations” and instead make conscious choices that support our lifestyle and happiness? Your comment is spot-on. Interesting fact: (per the American Heart Association) more heart attacks occur on Monday mornings around 9:00am – just when people are heading into jobs they hate. Funny how that works, eh?

      I know people here in the High Desert who do that very thing with (sometimes dangerous) peppers. To each their own remedies. πŸ™‚ Always appreciate your enjoyable thoughts/comments.

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