A few years ago, I used to catch every cold or flu exposed to – it wasn’t a matter of “if” I would be sick but how long it would take before I was sick. I have struggled all my life with an autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis. Which I have inherited from both sides of my family. I have been a caretaker for almost three decades for family members who have the disease. Then after two car accidents 23 months apart, this disease plus a new diagnosis of Fibromyalgia started me on my personal wellness journey. Armed with what I have learned these last almost three decades, I am honored to share my experience and resources to help others navigating their own wellness adventure.
I am relieved to say that I am not panicked as I would have been in the not so distant past. Rather, I am confident that I have as fair a chance of not getting sick as anyone else. The following personal practices evolved over the years as I was blessed to serve as a lay pastor at my church plus as an author/educator who has been speaking and meeting with thousands of people six to eight times a year at the Nourished Festival – a conference supporting people who are navigating alternate eating lifestyles and pursuing natural wellness therapies.
I originally wrote this article as a note for family members before embarking on a journey together – which would include air travel and time with our precious grandchildren. We have been looking forward to this treasured time away with family. I knew some of my sanitation habits may seem a bit much for some (not any more with Covid-19) so I just wanted to explain the “why” to them. It really helped – If you haven’t already, I encourage you to open lines of communication with your friends and family when your habits do not match up – when people understand “the why” they are ever so much more kind.
Here is a quick checklist of what I do when interacting with the world. While I was writing this for family, realized you (my audience & friends) may value this information too. *Reminder that I am not a licensed medical professional or doctor. I am licensed in the professional beauty industry and have been teaching some of these concepts for decades (see example in the photo at top.) This article illuminates what works for me and my family. Feeling safe affects our daily life and I thought this may help you too! This is personal experience that you may use as “cliff notes” to help you find habits that may serve you and your family. Always consult your doctor and health professionals regarding what might be best for you.
The purpose of this list helps me remember to do these things when I have spent time interacting with people outside my home. It helps put my mind at ease that I have done what I need to and to relax. Through online and in person clients, I am meeting many people that are becoming hyper-vigilant and scared of everything. Living in extreme anxiety – I pray my list may help you create a plan with your health professionals and give you some peace!
1. Choose safe, non-toxic products to wash or sanitize your skin and the surfaces around you. This will help you keep your skin intact – let’s avoid red, irritated or chafed skin from frequent handwashing. Use cleansers that have skin conditioning properties will help keep skin pliable and healthy. There are many products out there to disinfect surfaces – many are toxic. Check labels and be wise what you bring into your home or vehicle. I have found I am extremely sensitive and test all products on a small patch of skin first. I test surface cleaners/disinfectants in a room I can move from before using extensively in my house or in my car. (Definitions for the difference between washing/sanitizing and disinfecting are in my article “The Hand Towel Did It” June 19, 2019 on my website www.elizabethanthonygronert.com.)
2. Washing your hands after interacting with people or being outside the home is a best practice. I also cleanse/sanitize all items that my hands may have touched during my time outside the home! When I clean my hands, I also wipe down my phone, my glasses & case, water bottle or any container/tool contacted while away (like steering wheel and door handles of my car.)
3. Instead of handshakes, I “elbow-bump.” This started years ago at church because I have arthritic hands and some people just squeeze uncomfortably hard or “wind up” for a powerful fist bump. This reduced the amount of palm to palm, finger to finger contact. Bonus!
4. I wear a long scarf or jacket with pockets – yes, I have been called a “fashionista” but truthfully, it has become a simple way to open a door or hold onto a handrail for support. When I reach out, the scarf/hand in pocket protects my bare hands. Or in the winter, I wear gloves a lot. Both are simple to drop into the laundry when I return home.
5. Since I am always immune compromised with AS, I use these two additional steps. I blow my nose to clear the fine hairs that filter our air before taking into my lungs. And I drink plain water to cleanse the back of my throat of any germs collected there. Depending on my situation I just take a drink – stomach acid is one of our best defenders. Or I can swish with salt water and spit if home.
6. If I met someone who was ill or have a sick person in my home – I wash clothing, towels, and sheets separately. Do not commingle family laundry when there might be a “bug in the wash tub!”
7. Take care of yourself. Eat well, stay hydrated, learn what are the best foods, nutrients and movement for your body to support a healthy immune system. Here are the big ones for me:
- Daily Bone Broth: A few years ago, people started asking me what I had done to look visibly healthier. It launched my career into discussing and evaluating food choices with people. The primary thing that escalated these visible results to my skin, hair, nails, and balanced weight was my daily dose of eight to twenty ounces of my homemade Bone Broth. I control the ingredients according to my nutrition needs – need more iron, add this; need more vegetables, add that. The invisible benefit was my increased immunity and resilience.
- Daily Smoothie: I feel better when I get most of my nutrition from my food. My smoothies are a mix of veggies and fruit from whatever is in season and in my fridge. And if I need supplements they are better received by my moody tummy if well mixed into my smoothie (can add to my bone broth too – things like turmeric!)
- I make sure that I have at least half my body weight in ounces of water each day! If you add lemon to the water, it feels special and it aids your body flushing out toxins!
8. Ask your medical team if supplementation makes sense for you. I have an immunity boosting supplement that I take only when needed. It has been a game-changer for me. I take added supplementation:
- If I have been around someone sick.
- Will be traveling or overexerting myself.
- And/or feel scratchy not feeling right.
- It is a blend of vitamin C, zinc, echinacea and astragalus root. It has made the difference for me.
9. Essential oils (EO’s) are a medicinal gift from our ancestors. They can be diffused, diluted for application to skin and added to baths. After a day of physically being out and about with people, I use diluted Oregano EO on the soles of my feet when going to bed at night (my lucky husband!) Warning: EO are very potent and must be handled carefully. Please learn how to safely handle EO’s – consult your medical practitioner before use with children and especially do not use if pregnant or on a baby without expert help. Here are the things I evaluate before using an EO for my family:
· Use essences derived from real plants, not synthetic.
· I dilute the essential oil with plain oil (called a carrier oil) especially for my grandchildren and those with sensitive skin.
· I use filtered water in my diffuser, so I am only inhaling what I add to the water.
· I always do a test with new EO’s and blends for 24 hours to check for allergies and sensitivities. ** FYI: Be careful when using or wearing an EO in public. Others like myself can be very allergic – I have had two severe reactions to others spraying EO homemade sanitizer on their hands and I happened to walk through the “mist” just as they sprayed.
10. Get outside – the sunshine always makes my day! You can look up on the internet the many different reasons why – all I know is if I don’t get outside and feel the sunshine on my skin for about 15 minutes (in the summer and winter) each day, it noticeably affects me. Try it for a week and see if it helps you too!
11. Finally, don’t share! Here are a few examples:
· Don’t share your towels at home (yep – you read why in “The Hand Towel Did It!” my article on my website (June 19, 2019) www.elizabethanthonygronert.com
· Don’t share personal care items like lip balm, toothbrush or nail clippers.
- Don’t share water bottles, drinks or eat off the same utensils.
· If you share a phone or keyboard, sanitize/wipe it down before using.
Since these strategies have become habit for me, it doesn’t seem like a lot – I just do it intuitively. But it does “look” like a lot of steps when I write it out here. There’s hope for anything new I start to improve my immunity and wellness – practice makes it routine.
I share this because I am reliably less affected by people that are sick than I used to be. It is worth taking these steps for me. Hope this information blesses you and your family! You have my permission to share with anyone you feel it would support!