Autumn can bring an abundance of change for many folks. Some may be stepping into a fresh year of school, or perhaps returning to work after a relaxing summer break. A significant change in schedule is bound to throw off anyone’s sleep, stress and immunity levels. Here in Nova Scotia, we also go through a pretty dramatic weather change from summer to fall. Days get colder, nights get longer and with that may come more time indoors and less time soaking up that Vitamin D. These are just a couple factors, out of many, that could contribute to a weakened immune system this time of year. Lucky for us, there are some steps we can all take to boost our immunity and battle this cold and flu season head on.
Nourish Your Body...
Our bodies are incredible vessels that carry us though the different seasons of life. The better we treat our body, the better it will treat us. A few ways we can nourish our body this cold and flu season are :
including whole, unprocessed foods - some of our year-round favorites that we stock our kitchens with this time of year include honey, garden-fresh veggies and lemons. Herbs are also our allies during this season - both in their ability to strengthen our immune system and in supporting the body when managing symptoms of an infection. Common helpful herbs during this season include, astragalus root, garlic, echinacea and elderberry. 
finding opportunities to move our bodies (indoors and outdoors)
taking supplements or probiotics to support a health immune system. An Apothecary favourite this time of year is Herbaland's Immune Plus, in gummy form! Convenient and delicious, these contains a powerful combination of Vitamin C, Zinc, Elderberry & Echinacea. Available for both adults and kiddos!
Catch Some Zzzz's...
We all know the difference a good night’s rest can have on our mood, so it’s no wonder it would have the same effect on our physical bodies. Studies show that the optimal amount of sleep for adults is 7 to 8 hours a night. When we sleep, our bodies produce infection fighting proteins. When we get sick, we need a higher level of these proteins to help our immune system heal our body like it should. Getting a full night’s sleep is important in general but should be a top priority when battling a cold. Easier said than done, right? If you need a little extra help drifting off, try creating a bed-time routine that promotes sleep. This could include reducing screen time before bed, taking a hot bath / shower, using essential oils for aromatherapy, or indulging in a hot herbal tea. According to the sleep foundation, Chamomile, Lavender, and Lemon Balm are all herbal teas that can aid in the sleep process.
If these tips just aren't doing the trick, you may want to consider a sleep products. At the Apothecary, one of our top sellers is Sleep Plus gummies from Herbaland. All-natural (and delicious!), they contain a special blend of Melatonin, L-Theanine, and Lemon Balm that works not only help you fall asleep but to stay asleep. We sell them in bulk, so you're able to purchase just a few to see if they work for you.
Another important factor in maintaining a healthy immune system is proper stress management. In recent years, it can seem like there’s a new catastrophe somewhere in the world, every day. The news channels and social media outlets are running a 24/7 special on “What to Worry About Today", and it can feel beyond overwhelming at times. While stress doesn’t directly cause us to get sick, it’s the effect that stress has on our hormones that can make us more likely to catch *and keep* a virus. When we are stressed, our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol can supress the immune systems ability to fight off infection by lowering the amount of white blood cells in the bloodstream (white blood cells are kind of like the soldiers of the immune system, fighting off any invaders in the blood.) That’s why it’s ever so important to take time each day to decompress and let go of situations you have no control over; you can literally become sick with worry!
Aromatherapy can be an easy and affordable addition to your daily routine that can help reduce stress levels. Scents like lavender, lemon, chamomile, cedarwood and bergamot are a few essential oils regularly used in aromatherapy. Add a few drops to a bath, a diffuser or dilute in a carrier oil and apply to your skin. Take deep breaths and allow yourself to be fully present; clear your thoughts and let your mind and body fully relax.
Lastly, being up to date on all your recommended vaccines is one of the best preventative measures to take during cold and flu season. Our immune systems are pretty smart when it comes to fighting infection; vaccines just give it an extra boost to be even more efficient at recognizing and fighting off viruses. If used in a collective, vaccines can also prevent an illness from spreading to begin with. With a wider spread use of a vaccine such as the flu shot, an illness has a lesser chance of spreading through a community, since most have already been exposed to the virus through the shot. Pharmacies in Nova Scotia are able to provide flu shots beginning October 22nd. This year, you can conveniently book online using the same platform that was used for Covid vaccines. Trust me, you will thank yourself later when your peers are cooped up in bed with whatever yearly “bug” that’s going around and you are enjoying the nice fall weather, tissue-free.
At the end of the day, By giving our body what it needs to thrive, we set ourselves up for success in the long run. There are small habits that we can integrate into our daily lives that not only improve our well-being now, but also in the future. Being mindful about our choices is the ultimate step in the right direction, so next time you are making a choice about your heath, take a second and ask yourself if it is something that your body would appreciate.
[Disclaimer: the information provided is for general educational purposes only. The content in this article, website or any linked material is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare provider before introducing any changes into your wellness routine.]
 The Herbal Academy. (2017, November 07). Tips for staying healthy this cold and flu season. Retrieved October 16, 2022, from: https://theherbalacademy.com/staying-healthy-this-cold-and-flu-season/
Olsen, E. J. (2018, November 28). Can lack of sleep make you sick? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved October 7, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757  Ryan, T. (2022, April 11). The best teas to help you sleep. Sleep Foundation. Retrieved October 7, 2022, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/best-tea-for-sleep  Petram, T. (2020, April 5). How stress affects the immune system. Sunshine Community Health Center. Retrieved October 10, 2022, from https://www.sunshineclinic.org/blog/how-stress-affects-your-immune-system/  Pagan, C. N. (2022, January 3). Aromatherapy & Essential Oils for relaxation and stress relief. WebMD. Retrieved October 10, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/aromatherapy-overview