Frugal (Fun) Ways to Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

A cold is bad enough to go through, but getting the flu is worse. So how can you stay healthy when everyone else seems to be getting sick?
It’s true your best defence begins by washing your hands frequently and getting a flu shot, that’s not all you can do to keep those winter germs at bay. Let’s look at the most effective ways to stay healthy during this year’s cold and flu season.

Sing

The Carpenters iconic hit, “sing” can do more for your health than you knew!

Yes, you read that right. I said sing.

Japanese researchers have found that singing helps boost your immune system. When you sing, cortisol (a stress-related hormone) levels drop, and immunoglobulin A (responsible for deflecting bacteria and viruses) amounts rise. When you sing, you’re actually strengthening your immune system against cold and flu bugs. So crank the radio and pick up that hair brush. Your audience awaits.

Yin Yoga for Health

Yin yoga, a gentle yoga practice, has been found to reduce the duration and the intensity of cold and flu symptoms almost 50%. And a recent study by Tufts University found Tai Chi had similar benefits. So before you get sick, get in the habit of practicing gentle yoga a couple of times per week.

40 Winks

Sleep is vital for good health and a healthy immune system. People who sleep fewer than seven hours each night are three times more likely to get sick! Studies have shown a reduced number of protective antibodies in individuals who received a flu shot and slept five or six hours a night when compared to flu-shot recipients who slept 8 hours.
A proper night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do to arm yourself during the cold and flu season.

Probiotics

Probiotics can lessen cold and flu symptoms by reducing the body’s inflammatory response to respiratory viruses. Rutgers studies found that while people who regularly consumed the probiotics seemed to catch a cold with the same frequency as those who didn’t take probiotics; their symptoms were less severe and the duration of their symptoms significantly shorter. Liquids, powders, capsules, yogurt or other probiotic-rich foods can help keep you healthy.

Check out Dollar Tree for a great deal on probiotics ($1 for 30!)

Don’t hesitate to add fruit, springs of mint, or even frozen grapes to your water

Stay Hydrated

When you think of ways to avoid coming down with the flu, you may not automatically think of a glass of water. But drinking between 8-10 glasses of water each day can help you stay healthy year-round. When our bodies become dehydrated, they draw moisture from the air at a higher rate than usual, and that can pull airborne viruses directly into our body, increasing our chances of getting sick.

Don’t like drinking plain water? Try adding a slice of lemon or cucumber for a refreshing, flu-busting pick-me-up.

It’s no fun being sick, but by taking care of yourself before you get sick, you can make the most out of winter.

5 (Almost) Free Ways to Say Goodbye to Dry Winter Hair

We all have a bad hair day now and then. But winter winds can make it feel like you’re having a bad hair season! From hat-head to split ends, from dry to frizzy, harsh winters can wreak havoc on your hair. If you spend a lot of time outside, the icy rain, snow, and winter winds can cause your hair to tangle or become brittle and dry. Spend your days inside? The constant dry heat can also do real damage to your tresses. So before Jack Frost starts nipping at your ponytail, here are five tips that will have you saying goodbye to dry winter hair before it starts. And I’ll bet you already have these remedies in your kitchen – meaning these frugal tips are really freebies!

Extra Moisture

As the seasons’ change and that all-too-familiar nip in the air starts to descend, it’s time to add a little extra moisture for your hair. Look for shampoos that infused with naturally hydrating oils such as almond oil or shea butter and are labeled ‘moisture-rich.’ Or, add a few drops of almond oil to your favorite conditioner and shake to combine. Massage the conditioner into your scalp, and keep it on your hair for up to five minutes. For extra moisture, pop a shower cap on to take maximum advantage of the shower’s heat, help your hair absorb the extra moisture.

Cool Rinse

A cool rinse can be a lot to ask, especially when it’s cold outside. But resist your urge to crank up the temperature. A cool water rinse boosts shine and helps keep valuable oils where they belong – on your scalp.

Skip the Dry Heat

Whenever possible, choose a combination of towel and air drying of your hair instead of using a hairdryer. The dry heat of your hairdryer can cause extra damage to hair that’s already beginning to lose its moisture.

Raid the kitchen for moisturizing hair conditioners like coconut oil

Leave-In Conditioner

As your hair begins to dry, use a small amount of leave-in conditioner for extra moisture. Coconut oil (about the size of a dime for shoulder length hair) or avocado oil is also great to use, squeezing it into the ends of your hair for extra emphasis. Coconut and avocado oil are also great for controlling dry, flyaway hair, all too common during the colder months.

Weekly Treatment

Every week, pamper your hair with a homemade oil mask. Warm a tablespoon of coconut, almond, avocado, or olive oil in the microwave or on the stovetop. After checking to make sure the oil isn’t too hot to handle, massage it throughout your hair. Start at your scalp and work it all the way to the ends. Next, tuck your hair under a shower cap, or wrap in cling film and a towel on top, turban style. The added heat from the towel will help your hair absorb the natural oil. Leave one for an hour, then wash your hair as usual. You’ll love how your hair feels after this treatment.
Do you have a favorite tip for saying goodbye to dry winter hair, and hello to soft, supple, shiny curls all winter long? Let me know in the comments below.

4 Products That You Should Always DIY if You Care About Your Health and Your Wallet

Who doesn’t like a few extra coins in their pocket at the end of the week? Saving money is always an excellent reason to DIY, but it’s not the only reason. In some cases, the cost of not making it from scratch is a lot more than just money. While that bottle of face cream from the dollar store might be easy on your bank account in the immediate, your health and the environment are paying the price for all that “convenience.” And it really isn’t so convenient when you consider how easy it is to make at home.

Deodorants

In addition to frequently being testing on animals for unwanted skin reactions, aluminum-based antiperspirants and deodorants have been linked to a rise in breast cancer rates around the world. Our bodies need to sweat; it’s how we eliminate toxins. To block that natural process, to keep those toxins inside of us, is just plain dangerous. The simplest and most efficient way to keep unwelcome odors at bay is to dip moist fingertips into a small bowl of baking soda and apply it to the underarm area. That’s it: no mixing, no recipe, just baking soda. Its natural properties will keep you smelling fresh.

Feeling creative? You can always add two to three drops of your favorite essential oil and mix for a fun fragrance.

Create your a truly original scent in minutes

Perfume

Speaking of fragrances, many of the synthetic chemicals found in fragrances, including expensive big-name brands, have been linked to hormone disruption and even cancer. Parabens, found in many fragrances, are also found in pesticides. You wouldn’t spray pesticides on your skin daily, why do it with your perfume? Use distilled water (200 ml) with a few drops of essential oil and a tablespoon of vodka instead. Shake before using it.

Sinusitis Remedy

If the changing seasons have you sniffling, you may be thinking a trip to the doctor is your only course of action for relief. And if your symptoms last more than a few days, that may be in order. But if you’re in the initial stages of discomfort, why not try to save yourself from a course of damaging antibiotics or worse, a steroidal nasal spray. Bring a kettle of water to a steady boil and carefully pour it into a heatproof bowl. Add two drops of tea tree oil. Bend forward over the bowl and cover your head with a towel. Breathe deeply. The antibacterial properties of the tea tree oil will help combat any unfriendly bacteria, and the steam will keep your nasal passages moist and feeling healthy.

Wash and reuse old cosmetic or cream jars, or use small mason jars for your homemade eye cream

Eye Cream

We all know that the eyes are the window to the soul. But did you realize that the delicate under-eye skin is a gateway to your bloodstream? Whatever you put on your skin will be absorbed by your skin. So why are you taking chances? Put three tablespoons of coconut oil into a clean container. If the coconut oil is solid, you can submerge your jar in a bowl of hot water until it liquefies. Add to the coconut oil the contents of three vitamin E capsules, or 1/2 teaspoon vitamin E oil. Mix well and allow the oils to solidify once again. It’s now ready to use. No refrigeration is needed.

Dry Winter Skin? Homemade Lotion Bars Are The Answer

Winters can mean harsh winds that are brutal for your skin! You can slather lotion on your hands every five minutes and they’ll still cry out for more. Thankfully, this homemade rescue for dry, cracked winter skin will get rid of that itchy feeling once and for all. And because it comes in a ‘bar’ form (rather than messy lotions that can drip or spill at the worst possible moment) you can keep one with you at all times. They’re even great to use on winter-whipped chapped lips!

These fun, practical, and economical lotion bars are also a great homemade gifts. I often make several batches during those cold days I refuse to venture outside. And every time I use someone asks me where they can get one. Now I always carry an extra homemade lotion bar for dry winter skin with me, to hand out to friends and family.

With only a few ingredients, even novice do-it-yourselfers can master these use skin-saving bars.

Image by silviarita

For 16 Homemade Lotion Bars You’ll Need:

  • Coconut Oil (1 Litre)
  • Soy wax pellets (500 ml) you can use either pellets or bars
  • Essential Oil/ Fragrance (20 – 25 ml) Anything you like. My favourite combo is Patchouli and Vanilla (optional)
  • A Double boiler (If you don’t have one, don’t panic. You can improvise a double-boiler with a pot and heat-safe bowl)
  • A lotion bar mold (Silicon or rubber muffin pan, candy molds also work great. Metal muffin pan can be used too, just remember to use paper muffin liners or you’ll never get the lotion bar out!)
  • Spoon or spatula for mixing

How To Make Lotion Bars for Dry Winter Skin

  • Clear a workspace in your kitchen and get all your ingredients and utensils together.
  • Melt the soy wax in your double boiler, over medium-low heat.
  • As the soy wax begins to soften, add the coconut oil and stir gently, using your spatula.
  • Once the soy wax/ coconut oil mixture as mostly melted, add in your essential oil if you’re using it.
  • Next, pour the soy wax/ coconut oil/ fragrance combo into the molds and put in the refrigerator to cool quickly, or let cool on the counter.
  • Once the bars have cooled completely, they’re ready to use.

Relief from dry winter skin has never been so easy!

Once thoroughly cooled and firm, wrap your homemade lotion bars for dry skin with a ribbon or wrap loosely in a piece of reclaimed fabric, and they’re ready to hand out to family and friends to show them you care.