Common winter colds just aren’t what they used to be.When I was little there was an unspoken ritual around being sick and having to stay home from school. My mum worked full time so we would be bundled off to my grandmother’s house for the day to receive a good dose of love, nourishing food and all manner of home remedies. My Russian grandmother was like an old witch doctor. She had a concoction to treat every ailment, always administered with copious amounts of love and attention. She would tirelessly provide all measure of treatments. Depending on the complaint there were foot massages, onion juice in the ear, a raw egg drink, raw garlic clove up the nose, fresh vegetable juices, heat treatments, etc. She was a healer who grew her own food and medicinal herbs, practiced yoga daily and was truly way ahead of her time. It is no wonder that I do the work I do. It is in my blood (and ears and nose). Being ‘treated’ with love and nourishing foods and home remedies still feels nurturing and healing today, and I try do the same for my children.
I now know in theory what I then knew as experience. Wellness comes from feeling loved and cared for as much as anything. As adults we often find that we need to provide this for ourselves and take responsibility for our own needs. Reaching out and allowing someone else to care for us in some way, whether that someone is paid or not, is also a wonderful thing that perhaps takes us back to our own version of being cared for as a child.
When my grandmother would go out to get supplies for the day she would leave me tucked up in her big bed, propped up on a mound of sumptuous continental pillows watching television. (This is where I first developed a penchant for Shirley Temple movies and Swami Sarasvati’s morning yoga). Before her brief departure she would always ask if I wanted anything, and whilst I am sure she was expecting and hoping for me to request ingredients for a favourite meal or edible treat I would ask for something to read or a colouring book. To my amazement she always returned with my request in hand. She was wonderfully attentive in every way. Being sick was like living in paradise.
In case you don’t have such a grandmother on hand to advise you or attend to your every sickness-induced need, let me step in here with some sensible preventative measures to help avoid winter colds. My grandmother’s advice closely resembles that of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Here is what they would both say:
- Stay out of cold winds and rain.
- Protect your neck and lower back from the cold by wearing scarves and long tops.
- Keep your feet warm by wearing shoes and socks (avoid open shoes in winter).
- Rug up well after exercise.
- Dry off wet hair before bed or leaving the house.
- Avoid damp and cold environments.
- Rest up and avoid stress to allow your body to heal itself.
- Good nutrition with plenty of soups, warm foods and fruit and vegetables.
- Keep hydrated by drinking water – preferably at room temperature – to replace fluid lost from fever and sweating, phlegm, nasal discharge.
Take care of yourself as though your grandmother was watching!
Do you have fond memories of being nursed back to wellness as a child? Do you have any weird and wonderful winter rituals for warding off a cold? I would love to hear your stories.