Cold and Flu Season
Like clockwork, every autumn the calls start rolling in: Is this allergies a cold or the flu?
While fall and winter are typically “cold and flu season,” it doesn’t happen just because the weather is turning… it might be your nervous system crashing the party!
Be honest – how do you feel about the holiday season coming up?
Does it make you feel joyful, relaxed, and happy? Or – much more likely – like a “stressball”?
This fall, fight cold and flu season with a strong nervous system!
Your Immune System and Nervous System
Especially during this season, it’s important to balance the two main parts of your autonomic nervous system:
- Rest and digest (parasympathetic nervous system)
- Fight or flight (sympathetic nervous system)
Your fight or flight gets triggered with all kinds of modern stressors, including sudden noises, email alerts, phone dings, etc. When these stressors happen, your body produces a hormone reaction that disrupts your sleep, digestive system, reproductive system, and immune system. Meaning, your body is fighting everything except the external cold and flu bugs.
Shifting Into a Peaceful Holiday Season
Ready to have a holiday season full of ease and grace? Dr. Elyssa has three easy, accessible tips for you!
- Tip 1: Box breathing. Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, inhale for 4 counts… Repeat for a few rounds.
- Tip 2: Turn off your notifications. Turn your phone on silent so you don’t get constant “ding” anxiety, and consider setting specific times to check your phone or email.
- Tip 3: Be mindful of inflammation activators. Inflammation increases stress response and calls your immune system to fight the inflammation, distracting it from outside invaders like colds and flus. To support anti-inflammation in your system:
- Watch out for extra sugar, rich/heavy foods, and alcohol
- Drink more water, especially when you get sugar cravings
- Eat something that helps you feel healthy before going to holiday gatherings
- Take snacks for the road!
Let us know how these tips work for you this holiday season, or if you have any to add!
In this episode you’ll hear about:
- Why fall becomes cold and flu season
- What’s really happening each autumn that causes those colds and flus
- Balancing holiday season stress
- How your nervous system and immune system work together
- Ease and grace this holiday season
- Dr. Elyssa’s three tips for a healthy nervous system and strong immune system
Resources in this Episode:
- Pain-Free Pregnancy registration
- Body & Balance website
- Learn more about Dynamic Body Balancing
- DBB Website
- Episode 4: All About Dynamic Body Balancing
- Episode 5: It Takes a Village – Doulas
- The Benefits of Bone Broth
- Healthy Holiday Eating
- Stress Free Home for the Holidays
- Boulder Locals: Join our free, in-person Pain-Free Pregnancy community each quarter. Register here!
- Body & Balance: New patients start here
- About Dr Elyssa and Dr Katherine
- Connect with Body & Balance on Instagram
- Connect with Body & Balance on Facebook
- Enjoying the podcast? Be sure to subscribe and leave a review!
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers/listeners of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Elyssa Wright nor Body and Balance Chiropractic. LLC nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading, listening or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
Full Episode Transcript
Dr Elyssa Wright 00:00
Hey there and welcome to the Trimester Bubble! I am Dr. Elyssa and I’m a chiropractor and dynamic body balancing facilitator here at Body and Balance Chiropractic. We support mamas, mamas to be, and babies by helping them live their best lives. Here in the podcast, we’ll be bringing you a ton of educational content for your pregnancy journey from both us and special guests.
Whether you’re thinking about starting a family or maybe you’re already pregnant or have kiddos at home, we want each episode to help lift you up. We know that this can be a confusing and lonely time, and all of us here at the Trimester Bubble want to support you on your journey that is motherhood. If you are local to the Boulder area, we’d love to invite you to our free quarterly pain free pregnancy class that meets in-person at the community roots Midwife Collective to discuss why pain in pregnancy is common and not normal and what you can do at home to have a pain-free pregnancy.
We meet on the second Tuesday and our next quarterly will be in January. So as we get closer, we’ll be sharing some more dates and times. You can always check out and see what events we have going on at www.bodyandbalancechiropractic.com.
As always, if you love what you hear here, we would love for you to share with your friends.
So feel free to send this link along and it’s always greatly appreciated. All right, let’s get to the episode!
Hello everyone. Dr. Elyssa here. And on this week’s episode, we’re entering fall, we’re entering this cold and flu time. And one of the things that seems to happen in my practice, and in my personal life is this time of year I start getting the phone calls: “I don’t know if this is allergies. I don’t know if I’m getting sick. I have a sore throat, my baby has a fever.”
And it’s it’s that time of year. So I know you’re probably thinking, great! She’s going to get us some tips on how to get through it. And bear with me, we’re going to get there. But the thing that I am really focused on is, what can we do to prevent this?
Why do we get sick this time of year? And I know our go-to is always, cold weather, but I am going to challenge us to also look at what this last quarter of the year does to our systems from a stress perspective. So we’re going to do a little game here. When I say holidays, what happens in your body?
Do you relax and melt and fill with joy, or do you go – I have so much to do! I need to plan for this dinner. I need to plan for this party. I need to get this schedule organized. I need to make sure my calendar is up to date. Who’s family are we with this year? Which town are we going to?
And all of a sudden, that to-do list starts to grow and grow and grow. And most people, when I say the word holidays, instantly go to that stress. They don’t go to a place of relaxation and joy and happiness. And so this season we’re going to talk about how we can shift our mindset, shift our nervous system in to that place of restful ease versus stressful holidays.
And so we’re going to fight these fall and winter cold and flus by starting now at regulating our nervous systems to get ready for this season. So you might be wondering what does nervous system have to do with my immune system? How does this nervous system even manage it? And great question. Our nervous system is split into two little arms.
If you’re watching me on YouTube, you’ll see my fingers, my Italian heritage comes out and I start talking with my hands when I explain stuff. So two little arms and those two little arms, one puts us into a place of rest and digest. And this is where our sleep comes from, how our body digests food, our reproductive systems.
All of those pieces is when our body is in that rest and digest place. The rest and digest should be balanced with the fight or flight, and that’s called our sympathetic nervous system. And that fight or flight should be when we are being chased by an animal with the way of our society. That fight or flight is now showing up when our cell phones ding, when our emails ding, when we hear a sudden noise that we weren’t expecting.
And so we spend a lot of time in that fight or flight, sympathetic nervous system. And when we are there, hormone reactions happen that shut down our digestion, that shut down our immune system, that shut down our reproductive organs. So when we enter into this holiday season and all of a sudden we slip into our stress response, now our digestive system isn’t working as well and spoiler alert, our digestive system hosts a huge chunk of our immune system.
So digestive system goes down, immune system goes down, and all of a sudden we can’t fight off those bugs quite as well as we could when we weren’t entering this stressful time of year. So what can we do about it and how can we, instead of moving into this fight or flight shift over into a more peaceful way to enter into the holiday season?
And I have three tips that I share with my patients, my friends, my family to help them remember that this time of year we can come at it through a place of ease and grace and we don’t need to be coming at it through stress and overwhelm. I’m not saying anyone’s perfect, myself included. I sell. We’re traveling this year for Thanksgiving and I have my little stress thing in my head going, my gosh, we’re going to be in the airports over Thanksgiving and we’re what if the flights do what they did last year?
What if the airports shut down? What if we get stuck and I feel you, I do the same thing. I run into that stress response and my goal is to catch it and go, I’m in the stress response. I’m thinking about things I can’t control and future casting worrying about things in the future instead of staying here in the present moment.
So one is to call yourself on it and go, yeah, I see this. I don’t want to be doing this, and then do something about it. So my favorite thing to do because we’re all busy and so taking 30 minutes to sit in meditation all day, every day, especially if you have littles running around a crying newborn, maybe you don’t have time for that.
And so my favorite thing is a quick and easy breathing exercise. It’s called box breath, and we inhale for four, hold at the top of the inhale for four, exhale for four, hold at the bottom of the exhale for four. So you inhale one, two, three, four, hold two, three, four, exhale, two, three, four, hold, two, three, four.
So I’m going to do it without counting so you can get a sense of what it looks like. And we inhale. Exhale. And as simple as that, it’ll help you to stop, become aware of your breath, become aware of the present moment, and settle in. So when you notice yourself starting to look to the to do list of the future, stop and do three rounds of box breath.
Or do one round of box breath. Even as simple as becoming aware of your breath. I’m inhaling. I’m exhaling. Those pieces will help you to readjust and reregulate your nervous system and settle back in. So step one, breathe. Step two is look around. So right now I’m in my chiropractic office, and when I look around at my desk, I have on my screen my patient schedule of who’s coming in next, what do I need to be ready for on my desk?
I have my cell phone, I have my iPad to take my notes. I have all these electronics around me.
How much are these electronics infiltrating? How I feel in my day and what I do. And so I highly recommend we take these little things and we turn off the notifications My phone has been on silent for probably going on ten years now.
I know it drives my friends and family crazy because they can’t get a hold of me unless it’s cell phone time for me. And I did that because every time my cell phone dinged, I have a message ding, I have an email ding, I have a notification. I was getting anxious like, my gosh, I need to get back to this person.
Or my gosh, I need to move right now. And that wasn’t serving my health and trying to keep to that rest and digest place. So I recommend, especially this time of year, when it might feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions to turn off the notifications on your cell phone. Turn off the notifications on your computer screen if your computer is hooked in and now your computer is digging those messages, get rid of your notifications.
It will help your nervous system not constantly be waiting for the next shoe to fall, and it will help you be more present. So. But what am I going to check things right? That’s always the question of when am I going to check things? What am I have to like? Be there. I would challenge you to pick a time in the morning and a time in the evening so my emails get checked at like 637 in the morning.
That’s before I start my day with patience. So I want to make sure I get everything taken care of and then it gets checked right around dinner time. I usually check right before dinner as my last closing round of work brain before I transition into family time brain. And so that’s my email check time, and that’s most of the time I text message check time instead of constantly being ready, I check things when I want to, not when my phone tells me I should so that is number two to help you decrease that stress load is as any place you can find a notification, turn it off.
And number three, this one is tricky. This time of year, it’s to really look at where you’re putting inflammation in our bodies. So we have the mind game of where stress kicks in and now we want to look at the body game of where stress kicks in. Inflammation is things that make your body hot works overtime. And when we’re full of inflammation, what that’s going to do is increase our stress response and push our immune system to fight the inflammation.
Once again, taking the focus of the immune system away from the pathogens, away from the bugs and putting it into, you just ate a cupcake, now your system’s inflamed. you just worked out for the first time in eight months. Now your system’s inflamed. you just went to four holiday parties in a row. Now your system’s inflamed.
And so we can see with that list of examples, one of those things was a good source of inflammation. But when you add that good source of inflammation on to three bad sources of inflammation, your immune system is fighting a war against what you put into your body versus being on the protection for things that might be invading.
So we want to decrease things that inflame us. What does that look like? That looks like sugar, The sugar season, in my opinion, starts. It’s I’m recording this on the 20th of October and we know Halloween is right around the corner. So for me, that’s kind of beginning of sugar season. We go from candy at Halloween to pies at Thanksgiving to cookies at holiday parties all the way through.
And along with those things, we also have a lot of alcohol that comes into the picture. We have a lot of rich, heavy foods that come into the picture. And so all these pieces layer inflammation, inflammation, inflammation. So what can we do to combat that?
We’re not as naturally thirsty and so any time you go to grab a suite, any time you go to grab a snack, I am going to challenge you to drink a glass of water. First. A lot of the times we think we’re hungry, but we’re actually thirsty. So you want to aim for about half your body weight in water every day.